Fitting in running on a busy schedule requires a little creativity and a lot of commitment, but it is possible. Many accomplished runners – such as Themba Madima one of our Olympic-hopeful ASICS FrontRunners – balance their training with a full-time job. 

You might not be training for the Olympics, but these tips will help you fit in running with a busy schedule—without burning the candle at both ends.

Treat Your Runs like Appointments
If you reason that you will just get in your run when you can, you may never find the time. Something will always come up and before you know it, the day is over. Instead, treat your run like an appointment and schedule it ahead of time. Write your workout into your calendar, set an alarm for it, and honour the commitment.

You wouldn’t show up late to a work meeting, but you also wouldn’t overstay your time once the meeting is over. Approach your run with the same mentality: arrive on time and do not procrastinate getting out the door. Have your gear prepared ahead of time and have a plan for that day’s workout including distance, effort/pace, and route. After the run, don’t procrastinate by scrolling through social media or sitting around in your running clothes.

Emphasise Quality, not Quantity
While you may see runners on social media logging over 100kms per week, you do not need to run that much mileage to train even for a marathon. High mileage is not the only way to train for a race, nor is it always the best way—especially if it means sacrificing sleep and recovery time.

Focus on the quality of both your runs and your recovery. If you can only run 3-4 days per week, then focus on the quality of those days by having one long run, an endurance-building easy to moderate run, and an interval workout. Beyond the long run, you do not need to run more than 30-60 minutes per run, especially if you are deliberate in the purpose of the run and devote at least one run per week to a quality workout such as intervals or a tempo run.

Rather than adding on more kilometres when you want to improve your fitness, add more intensity into your runs. 

Multi-task for Supplemental Training
Foam rolling, stretching, and strength training are all essential parts of any runner’s plan. Supplemental training will keep you injury-free and make your training more effective, but it does take time. Develop a multi-tasking routine to fit in these when you can: foam roll or do core work while watching TV at night or do some simple squats and calf raises while cooking dinner.

Focus on the Benefits of Running
Chances are, if you choose to run rather take a spin class or join CrossFit, you enjoy running for more than just the sake of exercise. Running decreases stress, gives you energy, and provides some “me time” or time with friends in the midst of a busy day. Here are five benefits you will see within a week.

Prepare the Night Before
Taking the time to dig around for the running clothes, make sure your phone is charged, and eat your pre-run snack wastes valuable time. No matter what time of day you run, take time the night before to prepare for your run. Check the forecast to plan for weather, lay out your running clothes and pre-run snack, and charge your phone so your Runkeeper app is ready to go. If you run during your lunch break at work, pack everything in your bag the night before. If you have the time, prep your post-run meal or snack as well, so you can refuel quickly after your run.

It’s Okay to Miss a Run
In the grand scheme of a 12-16 week training schedule for a race, one or two missed runs is not going to detriment your fitness or cause you to miss your goals. Some days, sleep is more important (especially since sleep is essential for recovery) or you just simply may be too busy. Do not beat yourself up for a missed run now and then—just carry on with your training as planned and enjoy the extra rest.