Q&A: How to Plan Your Training on a Tight Schedule
I only have 3-4 days per week to train. What are the most important things I can do on those days to stay fit? And is there anything I can do on “off” days to help my training?
When training time is limited, often we just want to do what we love—running! But it’s important to develop a plan to keep you on the road for years to come. Here are some tips on developing a well-rounded program:
Conditioning (2 days)
Conditioning workouts include running, but also include cross-training such as biking, swimming, rowing, or kickboxing. With limited time to train, you can alternate between interval workouts and endurance runs or rides. Although you may be cross-training on a bike or in the water, structure these workouts deliberately as if you were on the track. For example, if you you’re scheduled for an interval run, you can bike to cross-train, but remember to complete your intervals on the bike to maintain your fitness goals.
Strength Training (1-2 days)
When you run, up to six times your body weight goes through each leg, so it’s important to make sure they’re strong enough to support you. It’s critical for your strength program to include single-leg strength and stability exercises for improved carryover to running. Some examples of strength exercises for runners include:
- Single-leg squats
- Single-leg glute bridges
- Single-leg press
When time is tight, you can also combine a short conditioning session with a strength-training workout.
Recovery days are just as important as training days! Some things that you can do on your off days to maximize your training gains are to stay hydrated, get adequate sleep, and perform stretching and mobility drills. For runners, some of the most important areas to stretch include:
- Hip flexors
Remember that if you have pain, consult a medical professional for an individualized assessment. Lastly, always listen to your body and have fun!
About This Contributor
Laurey Lou PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS is a physical therapist at the HSS Westchester Rehabilitation and Sports Performance Center. She is a board certified Sports Specialist and completed a sports residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she worked closely with the Northeastern University Division I athletes. Laurey is an active member of the combat sports section of the APTA Tactical Athletes Special Interest Group and worked with the combat athletes at the Olympic Training Center in Beijing. When she's not training in jiujitsu she enjoys running and has run a marathon in every city she has lived in.