What with work, study, family life and socialising, it seems time is at a premium for most people these days. In fact, if you have a hectic life, you would be forgiven for thinking you just don’t have the time to exercise or improve your current fitness level.
However, making time for exercise is not just good for your physical wellbeing, but it’s vital for your mental health, too. Running will get your endorphins (the ‘happiness’ hormone) flowing, while also giving you a chance to grab some headspace and fresh air in an otherwise chaotic world. Did you know that a quick lunchtime run could change your life?
You don’t need to dedicate huge amounts of time to working out. Even one or two short sessions a week are better than nothing!
Here are our top four sessions to try when you’re feeling time-poor, to get your heart racing and boost your fitness… fast. And if you don't have time (or the facilities) to wash properly afterwards, never fear, we have some tips on how to fake a shower after your lunchtime run.
If you only have 15 minutes
Try some strides. 15 minutes isn’t long, but it’s enough to get your heart rate up! Head out for an easy/steady run for 10 minutes, and in the final five minutes include some strides (short 20-30 second sprints). Remember to stretch well afterwards.
If you only have 20 minutes
Try an out-and-back run: head out for an easy/steady run for ten minutes, then turn and try to get back to your starting point in a quicker time.
If you can manage this session once every few weeks, it’s a great measure of your fitness: while at first you might only manage to knock a few seconds off your ‘return’ run, over time you will see yourself get quicker.
If you only have 30 minutes
Try a progression run. This is great for strength, speed and stamina. Run the first 10 minutes at an easy warm-up pace; the next 10 minutes at a steady pace; and the final 10 minutes at threshold pace. It’s tough, but the fitness rewards are worth it. Aim to include a short walk to cool down afterwards, and stretch well once you return home.
If you only have 40 minutes
Try a threshold run. Your threshold pace should feel ‘comfortably hard’: it’s not a flat-out sprint, but it’s faster than your normal pace. If you were to try to talk, you’d only be able to say three to four words at a time – full sentences shouldn’t be possible.
Find out more about threshold running here. To structure a session, warm up with an easy run for 10 minutes, then perform 3 x 5 mins at threshold pace with 2-minute recovery jogs, followed by a ten-minute cool down jog.