3 Staple Workouts for Busy Runners

If you’re like the rest of us, you’re probably busy, but you want to keep running and you’re not quite sure how to do that. So, how do you fit in running when it takes a lot of time? I’m going to give you three staple workouts for busy runners today.

If you’re like the rest of us, you’re probably busy, but you want to keep running and you’re not quite sure how to do that. So, how do you fit in running when it takes a lot of time? I’m going to give you three staple workouts for busy runners today. If you haven’t been on the channel here before, before we get to these workouts, you should know I’m Jesse Funk. This is a show I call Runner’s high. And you should hit that subscribe button so you get more tips like this on this channel every Tuesday and Thursday.

Now, before we get going, the first thing you have to do when you figure out how do I fit in workouts in my busy schedule is be honest with yourself. Are you actually busy? Now, I don’t know you, you may be super busy, crammed-packed, full to the gills where you just simply cannot fit anymore in. But I think it’s important to start with this because I know recently, I felt like, “Man, I just -- I don’t have time to do the things I want to do; practice my violin or write music or chill and roll hacks.”

You know, there’s this feeling that oh, I’m doing all these things. But when I took an honest assessment of what I was doing, I would often end up down like social media rabbit holes where I wasn’t getting anything done. I felt like I was getting things done, but I was spending much, much, too much time on these things. When it feels good, it feels like you’re doing something but you’re not actually doing anything.

Now, that isn’t to say that social media doesn’t have its place and it isn’t good. Obviously, you’re here with me on this YouTube channel, and YouTube can be its own rabbit hole. But you have to be honest about how much time you’re spending on that. One way to do that is to look at your phone, some phones have usage monitors on them that say, hey, this is how much time you’re spending on something.

And then you can say, okay, I know exactly how much time I’m spending. If I’m honest, I’m spending too much time. Or in your case, it may be, no, really, I am just busy. And I need some way to get these workouts in so I can still be a runner, still feel good about myself and still get better. Whatever the case is, once you’ve gone through that honest assessment and figured out, can I cut anything else out to fit my run in? Or do I just need to run a shorter period of time, then you can go from there.

So, let’s get on to my three staple workouts that we’re going to do in 30 minutes. Number one, this should come as no surprise and that is the long run. I start with this because this is the most obvious. We’re not going to spend a lot of time here, but traditionally 70 to 80% of your runs are going to be spent here. Now if you’re busy, you may not spend 70 to 80% of your time here.

Because if you’re only running three, four days a week, and you’re still training for say 5Ks 10Ks, something where it’s a race, and you need to maximize your time, the days you spend where you have time off are also going to be recovery. But you do still need to spend time doing these long runs. They improve your aerobic capacity, they help you recover, and are beneficial to building a foundation of fitness so that you can do the other kinds of runs, so not skip these, they’re still important. So, half-hour here, good to go. On to the next one.

Now, my staple number two can be done a lot of different ways. But I’m going to make a very specific suggestion for you and that is the fartlek. So, when we do a fartlek -- it’s Swedish for speed play -- if you haven’t heard me talk about it before, you haven’t heard it somewhere else. And that means we’re going to change the speed that we’re going in a particular run. The whole idea when we think about a 30-minute run is we don’t want to stop at any point and say, okay, let’s add these rest intervals. We just want to cram it all together and get the most out of it that we can.

So, in a 30 minute run both for this one and the next staple workout. We’re going to divide it up like this. 10 minutes for warm-up. This is just your easy pace, that long run pace we talked about that staple number one. 15 minutes of the set and then a five-minute warm down.

The fartlek, I’m going to make a suggestion for you is the 30, 60, 90. I love this workout. It fits in many, many places and can be used at varying stages of the game when you’re getting ready for races. Early season, late season, no matter what it is, it kind of accommodates where you are physically and helps you adapt accordingly.

So, the 30, 60, 90 fartlek is just this. You run for 30 seconds hard, you recover for 30 seconds and that’s not stopping, you’re still running that long-run pace. 60 seconds hard, 60 seconds to recover. 90 seconds hard then three minutes recover. In that 15-minute section, you can do that three times. The key to this workout is that you want to do the exact same pace for every 30, for every 60, and for every 90.

I like to compare these two when you’re in really good shape. The 30 is basically a sprint, the 60 is like mile pace, and then the 90 is like 5K pace. So, you’re slowing down as you’re doing these, but you’re working on different paces.

Not only should this improve your fitness, it should improve your pacing ability because you have to be real keen on exactly how fast you’re going at different speeds, different times in the workout, and different fatigue levels. That’s a huge key in pacing a race is knowing when you start a race, you don’t start it too fast, you start at the appropriate pace, even though you feel really good.

And then later on in the race, as you’re feeling fatigued, you continue at that pace because you have the fitness to do it, and because you’re used to being uncomfortable. So, there are a lot of skills to learn and this is why it’s such a huge staple for me. You can mix up that 15 minutes different ways, but using that 30, 60, 90 is a great way to break out all of the gears, work on high-end fitness, race pace all at the same time without overloading yourself.

So, let’s get on to staple number three. Staple three is going to be a tempo or threshold workout. This is great for imitating race pace or early in season before you’ve done much speed work starting to break you out in that long run pace. So, much like the other one, 10-minute warm-up.

Again, this is that long-run pace. 15 minutes at tempo or threshold, those are two different paces, by the way, not the same word for the same thing. And then a five-minute cooldown, five-minute warm down. You can break up that 15 minutes into intervals if you want to. But you’re gonna want to go at least four to five minutes per section to maximize the effect here.

The whole idea is that we’re going to be either improving our lactate threshold at the higher-end, which is what we need, when we have maxed out our VO2, so VO2 Max, we can’t improve it anymore. We can actually get better at running by removing lactate from our muscles to allow them to continue to produce energy. That’s what that threshold is.

Or we often refer to this as sweet spot training between my coach and I, tempo. This is going to be kind of like a fast, long run/slow 10K pace somewhere around there. And this is going to help both improve your aerobic capacity, but your fat utilization when you run.

At different speeds, we use different kinds of fuel in our body. At long run pace, we’re predominantly going to be burning fat. At a full out sprint, we’re going to be using glycogen in an anaerobic capacity, which is where that lactate comes from. The mixture of what’s being burned at any given pace changes depending on how hard you’re going.

So, you partly want to try to train your body to use fat more efficiently because we only have roughly two hours of glycogen in our muscles at any given time. So, the longer the race is, the more important fat utilization is. And that’s where training at that lower tempos pace kind of comes in because it helps us learn or teach -- or learn our bodies or learning how good -- Apparently, I’m being Hick right now. Teach our bodies to burn fat more efficiently.

The one thing I want to say is that it is important to warm up properly. And that doesn’t just mean head straight out the door. There are various ways to approach a warm-up. And I’ve done a video on this before, designing the perfect 5K warm-up. Now, I will say that my 5K warm-up in college lasted about 45 minutes. For somebody who is time-crunched, that is not the way to go.

However, you can take bits and pieces on that; some of the plyometrics, some of the leg swings, the stretches, those kind of things, cram them down into about a five-minute section and use that so that your total workout is 35 minutes. You get home, you can hit the shower, get on with your day. But it is important to get you warmed up before you do that 10-minute actual run warm-up so that you help prevent injury and you get the maximum out of your body.

So, are there any other things you’re struggling with as a runner you’d like to know about, you’d like my advice? Leave them in the comments below. I’d like to make a video for you in the future. As always, I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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