5 Tips to Fit in Good Running Workouts with a Busy Schedule

July 17, 2019 4 min read

5 Tips to Fit in Good Running Workouts with a Busy Schedule

“I don’t have time” is a common reason why people don’t sign up for races, especially longer races like marathons.  Collegiate runners and professional runners have schedules that are centered around quality training. Their main job is to train, recover and perform.  However, for those that still want to perform at a high level, but are no longer running in college or professionally, there are still lots of ways to ensure that you fit in quality training, even when you have other responsibilities, like a job or parenting. Here are 5 ways to help get in good, quality training, even when running is not your job.


Plan it Out

If you don’t have a training plan, chances are you are not going to get much training in.  If you leave it up to chance and just train when there is time, it is unlikely that you will get in good, consistent training in.  You need a plan. Whether that is a self-made plan where you schedule miles and workouts into your calendar or a plan you have researched and committed to.  There needs to be a schedule that is set. Before the week gets started, it is essential to make sure your runs are planned into the week. If you are someone that has a full schedule, your training might not be every single day and that is okay. The key is to make sure it is consistent from a week-to-week basis.  Choose the days that work well to fit in training and commit to making those days training days every week. These weekly patterns are essential to quality training. 

Find a Tribe

If you ran collegiately or on a professional team or in a local running club, you know the difference that training with a team makes.  Eliud Kipchoge in the documentaryBreaking 2,made the following statement on training with a team: “You cannot train alone and expect to run a fast time.  There is a formula: 100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the whole team.” Even the world record holder in the marathon admits he is nothing without a team.  Even the best, need others to push them and keep their training honest. While it might not be possible with your schedule to have training partners to run with every run, it is still essential to find people to support you in your training goals.  If you can’t find people to train with, find people that can time you on the track or ride their bike next to you.

Wake Up Early 

For the people that say they don’t have time to train, it would be interesting to see what time they wake up in the morning. With work and family life, sometimes the best time to get in quality training is before the sun rises.  Especially after busy days of working and being on your feet, it can be better to get training done before work. Set an alarm. Get up at 5 am (or earlier if you’re really dedicated). And squeeze in a run or workout or cross training before the grind of the day begins.  By waking up just an hour earlier, you are creating 5 extra hours of training during the work week. Those 5 hours can really change the quality and consistency of your training. If you are someone that prefers training later in day when your body is more awake, still get up early to get work and other responsibilities done.  This will allow more free time in the day to fit in your training.  

Utilize Short Windows of Time 

The reality is that you are not always going to have 2-hour time block to get necessary recovery time in.  This should not deter you from not recovering at all. When your schedule is especially busy, it is necessary to use even small windows of time for recovery purposes. After you have gotten your workout in for the day, it is easy to think there is not any extra time to recover, but if you use those short, 10-minute windows, every day, you will find that you are able to fit in consistent recovery time. The start and end of the days are typically good times to use.  Maybe you have 10-minutes in the morning after training, before kids wake up. Use this time to roll out. Think about how you use your time in the evening. Maybe dedicate even just 5 minutes to core work before you get ready for bed. If you work, lunch breaks can be a valuable time to get cross-training in. Hop on a spin bike. Get a massage. Go to a yoga class to stretch. Walk around the block to move your legs after that hard track work. Do not underestimate those short windows of time. They can really be the difference between good and great.

Set Goals 

Write down your goals.  Put them in a visible place that you can see every day.  In order to be motivated to train like a serious athlete, even when you are have that 9-5, you must have purpose in your training. You need to have races that you are signed up for and you need to have specific goals for those races.  There needs to be purpose behind what you are doing. If you are self-training yourself and do not have a coach or teammates, it is also important to set training goals to meet each week. Your schedule might not allow for you to train 6-7 days a week. If that’s the case, set goals of how many days or hours you do plan on training. Goals are essential, especially when it is just you.  You need something to pull you along and keep you training hard and consistently. 


Consistent training with a full-time job and all the other responsibilities of life is not always easy.  It is not just going to happen. It is something you must prioritize and plan. While it takes a lot of sacrifice and focus, there is no reason you cannot still train seriously and competitively as a stay-at-home mom or CEO or teacher.  Running might not be your sole focus and number one priority, but that doesn’t mean you cannot still train and compete like a serious athlete. 

 Post written by: Kelli Capel

Kelli Capel is a Cross-Country Athlete with WCC All-Academic Honorable mention from LMU. 

5 ways to run when you have a busy schedule


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