Between a busy job (I travel weekly for work) and two kids at home, I usually end up missing a couple planned runs during the week, which really messes with my head when I’m training for a race. How can I make sure I’m getting the most of the runs I am able to do?
Great question, and not an uncommon one for many runners. Fitting all of your workouts into a 7-day training week isn’t always easy—or advisable—but prioritizing them in order of importance can help mitigate some of the scheduling stress, especially when the busyness of life gets in the way of a run.
At the start of each week, identify the 2-3 key workouts in your schedule based on your current training focus. If you’re prepping for a longer race such as a half or full marathon, it might be long run, a tempo run and a long interval session; if you have a 5K or a 10K coming up, it could be a speed workout and a hill session. Those key workouts will be the sessions that make up the foundation of your training week. Prioritize them with a label—P1, P2 and P3—and schedule them for the days when you know you have the most time. Be sure to spread them out, however, to ensure that you’re recovering properly between key sessions. Fill in your easy runs and rest/recovery days around these higher priority workouts.
Taking this idea one step further, distributing your key workouts out over a 10- to 14-day period, rather than trying to force everything into a 7-day stretch (or less), allows you to place more emphasis on getting adequate recovery between your toughest sessions. This will put you in a better position to get more out of those key workouts, which will ultimately help improve race performances.
Plan ahead to ensure you’re able to get your key workouts done, and, if necessary, don’t be afraid to get creative and combine the elements of two different workouts into one session, such as a short tempo run followed by a set of intervals, or running a few miles at half-marathon or marathon race pace toward the end of a long run.
Lastly, prioritizing your key workouts isn’t an excuse for cutting out easy mileage or skipping recovery runs—but if you have to miss a secondary workout or cut an easy run short for some unforeseen reason, you can at least look back at the end of the week and take solace in the fact that you had your training priorities straight.
Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and more regularly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.