10 Time-Saving Training Tips
Even the most committed runners can find it hard to train when life gets in the way. If you're struggling to fit it all in, follow these 10 time-saving tips...
1. Run commute
The average UK commuter takes 54 minutes to get to work - that's close to two hours of every working day spent standing or sitting still. When it comes to training for a 10k - and avoiding sniffing a stranger's armpit for an entire tube journey - that time is much better spent running.
Run commuting is more popular than ever, and figures released last year even showed it to be the quickest way for Londoners to get to work. But if you can't manage the whole way to begin with, why not get the tube or the bus half way and run the rest? A suitable running bag and a change of clothes are all you need to turn your journey to work into valuable training time.
2. Run at lunch
A one-hour lunch break leaves you with more than enough time to get changed, complete a training session, shower and get back to your desk. Of course, you have to be smart with your choice of run. Now's not the time for a 10-mile trot, but a 20-minute interval session or high-intensity bodyweight workout are easily achievable.
3. Run harder
If you really do have only half an hour to spare each day, 'short and sharp' needs to be your training philosophy. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can provide the same fitness benefits as a slower session that lasts twice as long - but you have to be willing to give it your all. A sample session could be 10 x 1min with 1min rest, with the running minutes completed as quick as you can. If you don't even have that long to spare, TABATA is a shorter (and more intense) method that involved 20 seconds of all-out work (sprints, burpees and mountain climbers are good exercises to do), followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times.
Key to this type of training is ensuring you get enough rest. Don't do these sessions on consecutive days, and more than three in a week is inadvisable for most.
4. Run smarter
Training for a 10k doesn't have to (and shouldn't) take over your life. If you're finding it impossible to stick to your plan, it's possible to reap the running rewards off just two or three (depending on experience) runs a week. These should include a short, faster paced run, a longer tempo run and preferably a long, slow run of 50 to 70 minutes. The combination of all three will work both your aerobic and anaerobic systems, building your fitness in time for Race Day.
5. Start your day with a run
Suggesting to someone who is short on time to simply get up earlier is asking for trouble, but even if you get up 30 minutes before your usual alarm, you can squeeze in either a quick 5k or - if you really want to wake up - an interval session before breakfast. The first few times will be tough, but once you settle into an early-morning routine it's guaranteed to make the run-up to Race Day an altogether more energised experience.
6. Run with friends
Combining socialising with running is one of the most effective ways to fit fitness into your life. All you need are some likeminded friends and a willingness to put exercise over going for dinner and drinks. That may sound like madness to begin with, but you'll soon find there's no better way to chew the fat than on a run. More importantly, you're guaranteed to feel great afterwards, which can't be said of going to the pub.
7. Run with the family
Running is not the solo sport it once was: obstacle races, relays and running groups have combined to make it as much about community as individual performance. Events like junior parkrun - and hundreds of other kids races up and down the country - are helping to get the whole family involved, too. Persuading your better half that you really do need to go for another run is a lot easier when they or your kids are able to join in.
8. Run with a buggy
This one's for busy mums and dads - or those who want to add a bit of resistance training into their routine. Buggy running has boomed in recent years, with pushy parents lining the start lines of parkruns and races up and down the country. Save time on the nursery run or the local shop - and give your little one a heart dose of fresh air - by adding three-wheeled running to your weekly routine.
9. Run with a dog
If you find yourself walking the dog instead of going for a run, the solution is simple: combine the two. 'Canicross' is growing year on year, and many trail races even allow you to race with your four-legged friend. There are, however, a few guidelines to take note of regarding the safety of you, your dog and those around you. Official guidelines can be found at canicross.org.uk.
10. Tune in and train
If strength training means taking half an hour to get to and from the gym, swap dumbbells for your own bodyweight and take the gym to you. Certain sessions - bodyweight circuits, core workouts, Pilates and general stretching - can easily done in front of the TV, meaning you can watch the drama unfold on EastEnders and injury-proof your body in a wonderfully productive half-hour window.