Crushing it from only three runs per week

Thanks to the stresses and commitments of life, you can only run three times per week, how can your maximise that limited time, become as fit as possible and enjoy every step of your running training?

Hayden spelt out how he typically recommends people to make the most of a 3-run training week in the Facebook live below:

To sum up, those three runs are:

  1. Easy run of 20-40 minutes (sometimes more if you’re used to higher mileage) with strides towards the end (of anything from 3×10 seconds up to 8×30 seconds—more on strides below).
  2. Workout of some description where you challenge your body to run at a faster pace for extended periods of time. This might take the form of:
    • a fartlek run (time-based intervals of faster running interspersed with slower running for recovery),
    • a tempo run (extended period of faster or steady running—can be as short as 10 minutes up to 50 minutes or more),
    • intervals (e.g. 5×1 mile at 10k race pace),
    • time trial (I like to do these over a trail circuit so it’s more fun but you can compare times from month to month — I recommend keeping these time trials between 2 and 6km),
    • race (parkrun 5k is ideal for this)
  3. Long run. For someone building up to a half marathon or marathon (see below) you will nudge this run up to 2 hours and beyond, but for the rest of us 90 minutes is plenty and should be got there gradually (increase by 10% each week.

Strides are short burst of fast controlled running where you focus on excellent running form and allowing your Ferrari to stretch its legs so to speak. They are NOT sprints and for new runners should be very controlled. Do strides toward the end of your easy runs and follow each burst of speed with a minute or two of very easy jogging or even walking.

For those training for a marathon, it’s very rare to PB or run a stellar time or to feel half okay in the second half of the race when you’ve just run three times a week. Although three runs will allow you more time to recover after long runs, your body just isn’t getting enough time on its feet to be conditioned to the rigours of a long race.

Finally, I’d point out that a 3-run per week training plan is best supplemented with a couple of alternative cardio sessions per week (swimming, cycling, deep water running) and some strength in the gym (this could be a gym class, pilates or loading up the plates on the barbell).

Have you had an experience with training for an event off three days per week? How did it go?