Last week, a running client I had written a marathon training plan for a few years ago contacted me for help working towards a marathon later this year. She had enjoyed using my plan, and had recently run a PB at marathon distance, but she has since got a dog, so her priorities have changed a little, and she was unable to fit 4-5 runs a week into her busy schedule because she was having to walk her dog twice a day. “Can I train for a marathon PB on 3 sessions a week?” she asked me. It’s definitely possible to fit running into a busy schedule if you prioritise the quality sessions, I assured her.

I asked her about her week, and she already does strength training, and she’s active daily with her dog walks. My client has maintained a good level of endurance since her last marathon, so I had no concerns about her fitness. She just needed help knowing what type of sessions would benefit her the most, to help her achieve her goal of running a marathon PB. She now has a plan she is happy with, and more importantly, one that she can fit into her existing commitments, so that she is more likely to succeed at achieving her goal.

Quite often, a goal we set ourselves can appear daunting at first, but is possible when we just prioritise those actions that will help us to achieve this. This is exactly what we help you to do on our Get Stronger, Run a Faster 5k course: learn which sessions you will get the most out of so that you can fit running into a busy schedule.

Here are my top tips for making any training plan work for you:

Set yourself clear goals

At one end of the spectrum, this might be a distance PB, or it might simply be to tick off 3 training sessions each week. Whatever your goal, make sure it’s achievable and you will be more likely to fit running into your schedule.

Time-block running into your schedule

Allocate yourself dedicated timeslots for training in your schedule. Treat these as non-negotiable as your work and family, to prioritise consistency.

Choose the most efficient workouts if you’re short on time

Intervals are a highly efficient workout because they don’t take much time out of your day, and you’ll gain both speed and fitness with these.

Choose those workouts which will benefit your goal the most, too. For a marathon for example, don’t ever skip those long runs, or the speed endurance sessions.

Workout at or near home

Save time by running straight from home or on the treadmill – some workouts translate really well to treadmill, particularly those where you need to control your pace, or attack a hill yet don’t have time to drive to one where you can train outside. By working out near home or work, you’ll be more successful in fitting running into your busy schedule.

Prioritise strength training

If you’re having to drop a run out of your schedule because you’re short on time, consider replacing this with a short strength workout. You’ll gain huge benefits from this. In the Get Stronger, Run A Faster 5k course, you’ll have a new Pilates-based strength workout each week which will take only 20-30 minutes of your time, which will really help your running. Win win.

Use gaps in your day wisely

Boiling the kettle for a brew? Fit some squats in while you’re waiting. Brushing your teeth? Do your calf raises. There is always time to fit a little bit extra in that will really help your running. Have a meeting on the 5th floor? Use the stairs instead of the lift.

Be flexible

Think about alternative workout plans if your schedule is more unpredictable so that you can adapt to changes in your routine. The key is to stay consistent, not perfect. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session. Focus on getting back on track rather than dwelling on what has gone wrong.

Have somebody to be accountable to

This is where a training buddy, or the Get Stronger, Run A Faster 5k course could help you to stay motivated and receive support.

Find out more about our course here: Unlock Your Potential, Run A Faster 5k

Michelle x