How do I fit 80km of running into my normal working week?

March 11, 2024

Ultra running training is all about aerobic volume but how can you fit in big weeks with a busy schedule?

Unlike professional runners or run influencers, I do not have the privilege of getting to base my life around my training. As much as I wish this was the case I sadly have bills to pay which strangely are not covered with an 8th place in a trail half marathon. Much like a lot of you, I hold down a 9-5 job, a relationship and social commitments that all influence my training. As an aspiring ultra runner volume and high mileage weeks are almost unavoidable so how do I fit 60-80km of running in each week consistently?

How does a typical week look for me?

At the time of writing my weeks are greatly reduced due to an ongoing issue with my knee however a typical week tends to look like this:

  • Monday - Rest
  • Tuesday - 12km lunchtime.
  • Wednesday - 16km lunchtime / short evening run
  • Thursday - Rest
  • Friday - 12km evening run
  • Saturday - 16km as and when it fits in the day, usually late morning.
  • Sunday - 25km morning get it done and out of the way.

Weekly total: 81km

Take the time when you can

If you have a busy schedule or a lot of your plans are last minute it can be all too easy for your training to consistently get knocked back. Although having a rough idea of when in the day I would like to train being flexible is the key. If you have a 30-45 minute run on the cards, this can be fit into to busy schedule quite easily and can be a great way to start off your day. Waiting until after work can be great but it does mean that if something comes up or if plans change there is no wiggle room to get your run in.

Make the most of your lunch breaks

This is an absolute gem for me. A lot of my mid-week running comes from making the most of my lunch break. Most of us are lucky enough to have an hour to play with and some even have free reign over how long they take. In the winter especially I find getting out at lunch the best solution as I get daylight on my face and it leaves me with my morning and evenings to do whatever else I have planned.

Having the foresight to pack your running kit the night before is the biggest stumbling block and more than once I have gotten to the office only to find that I have no shorts or shoes with me.

Weekend long runs

This is one that every longer-distance runner is probably aware of but up to 50% of my weekly mileage can come from my runs over the weekend. Typically I try to have two sizeable runs at the weekend to build some cumulative fatigue. Ideal for simulating the demands of an ultra without the need to head out for 5-hour runs every weekend. Instead, I might do a 16-18km run on Saturday followed by 25-30km on Sunday. This also means that a higher volume is easier to fit in as you don’t need a whole day free to fit your high-volume training in.

Double stacked sessions

These should be tackled with caution and if you are new to running should perhaps be introduced gradually but running twice per day can be a great way to fit more kilometres into your week. The obvious way to fit this in for me is on a short commute, if you live 5-10km from your place of work running to and from work is an easy way to rack up the kilometres.

Another great way to use double stacking is to incorporate an easy-paced run in the mornings to increase your base endurance. I also find it a really pleasing way to start my day. Combining threshold or speed sessions with an easy run is a great way to mix up your training and increase your training volume. I don’t always have time to run 15km in one go but I can normally find time for 6km in the morning and 9km at lunch or in the evening.

Find what motivates you

Living a busy life and staying consistent with your training is hard. There are so many hurdles that can easily put you off track; before you know it, you haven’t run for two weeks. For me, the trick to consistency is finding whatever it is that motivates you and leaning into it. The more motivated you are, the easier all the steps above are to put into action.

Having a fixed goal like an event or race can be great so too can chasing a PB time or distance. There are an infinite number of motivators but finding yours is the key to staying consistent even with a busy life.

Dont beat yourself up

Consistency is key in endurance training however, we are human and we all have lives that demand our attention. As much as fitting consistent and progressive running into your weeks will put you on the right track to being a better runner sometimes it just isn’t possible. It is all too easy to get drawn into the ‘just get it done’ attitude constantly presented to you on social media but this just isn’t realistic or healthy.

If you have a particularly busy week, bad sleep or the niggles of an impending injury, knock the mileage back or have a few days off. Although it can be hard to believe being over-recovered is better than being over-trained.

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