Trail runners have all had days, weeks, months, and even years when life seemed to be playing out in fast forward, with no time left for running and training. Top trail runners tend to be busier than average, and still squeeze in the necessary training and running to take podium finishes. Indeed, an abundance of time is not a common complaint.
Having an off-and-on schedule can really mess with a training program, and requires a consistent commitment to training. Whether your life is hectic right now, or sure to get busy in the near future, follow these tips from trail runners who have kept running during hectic times.
As dedicated athletes, we like to reach for the stars, but this overreaching can sometimes leave us disappointed and can derail our training.
Missing unrealistic goals can discourage you, so set reachable goals. Being realistic will keep you on track. You can concentrate on speed sessions and quality workouts, and drops the long run when work is taking over.
If you find yourself struggling to get your scheduled training runs in, it may be a lack of prioritising. It helps to sit down and write out a daily, weekly, and monthly priority list. Of course, family, work, and household obligations are of prime concern, but your training and trail running will take priority over TV shows, sitting in the hammock on a Sunday afternoon, or sleeping in.
How you view your running will help.
“Running is not a chore to me. It gives me the breathing space and me-time to decompress and sort out my thoughts. So prioritising a run is not difficult,” says endurance athlete Sim Phei Sunn.
Choosing your most important races, or A-type race, is also crucial. And, life always seems to get hectic right when you’re getting into your heavy training for a race.
Wyan Chow was the first-place woman at the 2015 Vibram Hong Kong 100. Chow says: “If I have a target-race, I will prioritise my training for the race. In other words, I will not participate in too many races. Otherwise, I do not have enough time to rest.”
The whirlwind of a hectic schedule can be grounded with some consistency.
Chow feels that it is the consistency that helps her maintain fitness and stamina: “However busy I am, I will still make running and training an integral part of my life.”
Consistency in training is vital in terms of not losing strength, speed, and form. Having a pre-written schedule and an abundance of intrinsic motivation will help.
When there just aren’t enough hours in the day, getting creative can help you get out on the trails and keep your volume up. There are days when you have no option but to multitask on the run.
Many runners have also found ways to fit their running into their day by run-commuting. They run to and from work, or decide to go by foot when they literally run an errand. Chow used this to her advantage when she was in the police force by running back and forth to work — a 27km round trip.
Always having running gear can be the prompt that gets you out running. When you find yourself with an extra hour to spare, you will not regret the running clothes stored in your backpack or office.
Early Rise, Lunch Breaks, and Midnight Runs
There is no bad time for a run. When your favourite time to run is crowded with other obligations and responsibilities, it is time to analyse other times to run.
Back Off and Simplify It
Busy times in life are sure to come and go. There will be periods when finding the time to get to the trailhead will be tough, but it is always worth the effort. The more kilometres we rack up on the trails, the more evident it becomes that every stride is worth it. And, we somehow always come back from our trail run feeling more energetic and refreshed than before the run.
As Pavel Toropov sums it up, “We just need to get ourselves out the door and run.”
Quick Workouts for Those Short on Time
Pavel Toropov’s Quick Workout:
Start with 4 x 1mi repeats, with a 400m recovery jog in between, and an increasing-to-decreasing interval pyramid, with minimal recovery: 400m, 800m, 1,200m, 1,600m, and back down to 1,600m, 1,200m, 800m, 400m. Also, do fartlek workouts, or short hill repeats: 3min running up, with running down as recovery, 5-10 times.
Wyan Chow’s Quick Workout:
HIIT — or high-intensity interval training — is a training technique in which you give all-out, 100% efforts through quick, intense bursts of output, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up. For example, 50 sit-ups, 40 jump-squats, 30 push-ups, 20 jumps, 10 dips, 30s of burpees. Adjust to your ability and liking.
Sim Phei Sunn’s Quick Workout:
Do a shorter run as a warm-up session, followed by quick bursts of stair repeats, both up and down. This gets the heart rate up while building power and strengthening the muscles required for going up and down the trails.
Written by Clint Cherepa
Wyan Chow on her way for the HK100 title in 2015.Clint is currently in Nicaragua engaged in volunteer work, writing, and ultra training. He can also be found inspiring runners of all levels at StrongerRunners.net.