We’re all strapped for time, and no matter how dedicated we are to our sport, we’re all struggling to eke out enough time to get out and run. However, lack of time doesn’t stop most dedicated runners from sneaking in a workout because we know every minute counts.
“If you have enough time to put your shoes on and take your shoes off, you can squeeze a workout between those things,” says CTS coach Andy Jones-Wilkins. “Even as short as 20 minutes works. Do a double if you have to. If you have 30 minutes in the morning and 30 in the evening, that’s 60 over the course of the day. For the time-crunched athlete, you just have to find that time where you can find it and make the most out of it.”
Short on time? It’s not a problem. Here are a few coach-recommended workouts to do in short windows.
1. 3-MINUTE EFFORTS
“I think the best way to make the most of it, if you’re not dealing with injury, and you’ve been running for a while, is to do it with intensity,” says Jones-Wilkins. “I have people do a 10-minute warmup, then 3 minutes hard, 30 seconds walking or jogging, 5 times. Preferably on hills or at an incline on a treadmill. It’s the best bang for your buck,” he adds. If you have to go even shorter, there’s a solution for that, too. “Even going hard 3 minutes, 3 times, getting your heart rate up will give you a huge benefit,” says Jones-Wilkins. After all, one rep is better than none.
2. STAIR CLIMBING
“If you want to spend the 30 minutes doing things other than running, you get incredible bang for your buck on the gym’s stairclimber,” adds Jones-Wilkins. This is great if you’re stuck inside because of bad weather but have serious treadmill fatigue. “I love stairs as a treadmill alternative. You sweat your butt off, it burns your quads and hamstrings and it’s a great one to do in just 30 minutes — you don’t want to do more,” he notes.
3. 2-MINUTES ON, 1-MINUTE OFF
“Two minutes hard with 1 minute of rest is the best catch-all, do anywhere, time-crunch running workout,” says coach Kyle Boorsma. “When in doubt this is a go-to. Not super sexy, but it gets the job done.” Whether you’re on a track, treadmill or trail, you can still nail hard efforts, and the bonus here is that a hard 2 minutes feels like an eternity, so you’ll end your 30 minutes feeling like you’ve been crushing it all day.
Aim for a consistent effort for the 2 minutes, versus starting to slow down after 30 seconds. It takes awhile for runners who are new to intervals to get a handle on this, but it’s worth learning.
READ MORE > 3 TYPES OF RUNS EVERY RUNNER SHOULD DO
4. REHAB OR SELF CARE
If you find you’re not just time-crunched, you’re energy crunched, it might be time to sneak in a nap rather than a jog. If you find yourself doing that every day, that could be a problem, but once in awhile, your brain and body might need a break from the daily grind, and your attempt to nail a workout might be doing more harm than good.
Another option is to grab a foam roller and do some rolling and stretching for 30 minutes, rather than trying to beat your body up even more. Sports psychologist Kristin Keim is a big fan of a short yoga or Pilates routine (chose an online class). Often, we neglect that post-run care, but 30 minutes of time spent doing gentle stretches and self-massage leaves you feeling like a million bucks — and might make you do it more often!
5. JUST. RUN.
Whether you do your best thinking or clear your head by just jogging in the park, or you get a mental boost from tearing your legs off sprinting through the woods, a 30-minute window is all a runner really needs to get endorphins flowing, torch some calories and work through that nagging issue that’s been on your mind. It might not seem like much time if you’re used to an hour or more on most days, but it’s better than nothing. Bonus: Getting out in nature has been shown to make people happier and more productive, so even if you’re stealing an extra 30 after your lunch at work, your boss will forgive you when you come back fully recharged.