First ever races coming up- how to train for them with severe time limitations

I've gone and done it now- signed up for a 10k December 15 and a Half Marathon next April. My latest PB was 7.5km in 42 minutes, yesterday morning. My goal is to go under an hour in the 10k and under 2:10 in the half marathon, but I'm very time-constrained in terms of training, to the extent that Monday- Saturday I can generally only dedicate a bit more than an hour in total- including getting changed, showering, warming up and down- and then usually only 4 times a week total, although Sundays I have no time restrictions. Any advice appreciated.


  • I also have to add- it's all hills where I live, and rough stuff- stony dirt tracks. Aforementioned time constraints put me off drving elsewhere to run, apart from at the weekend.

  • Oh, and, I'm 37 soon to be 38, and overweight. I had some brief flirtations with running in the past but this time I decided to take it seriously, and have been slowly improving for the last year and a half or so. In fact, thinking back it is actually a case of a new years resolution being stuck to for once, kind of. I went for a long New Year's Day walk in 2012, and was worn out, hips aching and so on, and thought I'd better start turning things around. 

  • OK, first time table your day and see if any thing fits in either early morning or evenings.  For what you're after I wouldn't have thought that you would need to run 4times in the week. 

    Your key session would be a Sunday LSR. If you're tight for time in the week you could add a faster section into the LSR.

    If possible could you join a club? This would help in fixing regular training sessions.

  • So, ever longer LSRs, with a more intense middle section? 


  • What about when I can only allow myself 40 minutes running time- how can I take the greatest advantage of that time? Flat out all the way? Intervals?

  • If you want to get injured - yeah.

    Other than that - I'd take 45 mins steady running 3 x a week and on the sunday make sure you run the 10k - again at a steady pace.

    I dont think you have the background to do interval training without a risk of injury.

    As to the half - well theres plenty of time for that. You could do intervals for that.
  • It sounds like you're reasonably new to running. Apologies if you're not, and if this all sounds like old news to you. Also, I should point out that I'm very much a keen amateur too, and my opinions are just that.

    In my limited experience, newer runners make a couple of basic mistakes: they run too fast in training, and they underestimate the time it takes for the body to adapt to cope with the demands of their training. Both of these, in my humble opinion, increase the risk of injury, which sets you back to square one.

    How many times do you run per week at the moment? i.e. on average, over the last six months, what has your running week been like? My suggestion would be the best way for you to improve from your current position is by improving aerobic endurance, making your body more efficient at running for longer distances. These physical adaptations will take time, so be patient. If you're not doing already, make a habit of running 3x a week, every week, come rain, hail or shine. Make them all slow to begin with, so don't worry about speed, don't try to beat your previous best for a particular route, etc, just get the miles in, make a habit of it, and allow your body to do the work of adapting to your new routine. two or even three 40 min runs in the week, plus a longer run at the weekend will be fine, so long as you're doing them nice and easy. some days will feel tougher than others, but if you're red in the face and panting by the end of the runs, you've run them too hard. No point in doing one hard run, then feeling knackered, discouraged and not running for 2 weeks. As for the Sunday long run, start with 60 mins, then add 5-10 mins each week. Every third or fourth week, drop the training volume by about 10-20% or so, then resume the next week from the previous peak. Sooner than you think you'll be running more mileage than you have before, and your endurance will have improved. Keeping it slow will help to avoid injury. Running on trails, or even better grass, will do the same. Did i mention running slowly?

    I would focus on the half marathon next April, and work towards that. The 10k will likely take care of itself, if you keep running regularly and avoid injury. You can already run 7.5k at 9min/miles, so in 6 weeks time you will be able to run for longer at that same pace, not by training at that pace, but by running ever increasing mileage at a slower pace, and become aerobically fitter. Sounds counterproductive doesn't it? Well, there it is, slow down, be patient and you'll be grand. Good luck, and let us know how you're getting on.

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    You need more spare time. If you're already so busy that you can only sqeeze in bit part training, I'd say this is something you can do without.

    Forget it.

  • Cougie and Agent Ginger's advice is spot on. Best work on the aerobic side of the things with the HM as the main aim. By doing this the 10K will look after itself. If you were to put in a faster section into an LSR leave it for the last 20% . 

    Remember at this stage it's time on your feet not distance that's most important.

    Slow is fast.

  • Cheers all. Yeah, I'm pretty new to it. I had some unexpected time this morning and so went out for a long-ish run: 13km in about 1 hour 20. It felt great, like I could have gone further. Slow  is fast, OK.

  • As to running on grass, it's all trails around by my house, some harder than others. No grass as such, this is Central Spain, near Madrid. Such grassy bits as there are are usually full of aggressively spiky plants and very rough underfoot, so I stick to the trails.

  • cool, still sounds nicer than pounding the pavements of south west london. Enjoy!

  • Last weekend I did two runs on roads though, partly to avoid the mud because it had rained pretty heavily, and partly with the idea that I need to get used to running on tarmac in order to be ready to do these races. What's the consensus on that?

  • by all means do some training on tarmac, it'll toughen your legs up because it's a harder surface. but for the same reason it'll increase the risk of injury if you do too much on tarmac. i wouldn't worry about it too much though, i live in south london and most of my runs are commuting to/from work, so i can't really avoid pavement. it's not an excuse not to run, but if i had a preference it would be to run on grass/trails.

  • 7.86 yesterday in 49:15; 8:39 this morning, 48:20. Probably not slow enough 

  • Do you have a heart rate monitor?

  • Having recently been informed that the S in LSR is supposed to stand for SLOW rather than SUNDAY, I took it to heart and did 14.5 easy going kilometres in the autumnally misty woods this morning, mostly sandy trails,.some tarmac and even some actual grass. 

    That makes 70km run in the past eight days.

  • The "slow" is relative and should be roughley mp+90 or 70% Max heart rate (generally  around 135 to 140 BPM).


  • Rest day today. My legs are definitely feeling the effexts of the last week's running. 

  • Just did 8.35 in 45:31, After a couple of easy runs during the week. LSR tomorrow.

  • The only thing that worries me is my weekend running buddy. He seems to make faster progress than me- a month ago he was huffing and puffing and not keeping up with me, and now I'm having to half bust a gut at the pace he wants to run at, and he only runs with me at the weekends, whereas I'm going out generally at least twice more on weekdays. Annoying.

  • Long Slowish Sunday Run: 16.25 km, 43m including some brief piss breaks and walking breaks. The furthest I've ever run.

  • Well done image great run.

  • Thanks! Not 43 minutes though, I wish! 

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