Making Time To Run

Depending on your goals, finding the time to run isn't as hard as you think.


By B.J.


You’ve probably heard it a hundred times--running is as much a mental sport as it is a physical one. It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran runner or a newbie, every single time you lace up is a victory against that little voice inside your head that says “Isn’t there a better way to be spending your time?”

You know what? Sometimes that voice is right. You’re busy. Some days you just don’t have time to run. But most of the time, it’s just you psyching yourself out of a good run.

One of the most common myths about running is that it takes up a ton of time, that if you’re a runner, you don’t have room for anything in your life other than pounding the pavement.

That is simply not true. Sure, if you’re training for a marathon, you’re probably putting in 5 or 6 days a week of anywhere between 2 and 6 hours a day. That’s a huge commitment that not everyone can work into their lifestyle.

But what if you’re just running for health and happiness? If you have 15 minutes a day, you can easily get a mile in. And if you’re going to train for a popular race distance (such as the 5K or 10K), you can do it in as little as 30 minutes a day.

5K (Under 2 hours per week)

The 5K is one of the most popular race distances because of how accessible it is. Recently, running 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) has become most new runners’ first goal, partly because it doesn’t require you to give up much of your time to do it. If you can spare 2 hours a week, you can run a 5K. Most 5K training program breaks your training into 3 sessions per week.

These programs will also run anywhere from 20-40 minutes each (including warm ups and cool downs).

By the end of most of these training programs/smartphone apps, you’ll be running 5 kilometers in or around 30 minutes 3x each week. That’s less time than watching two episodes of Orange is the New Black or House of Cards.

The 5K is popular for a reason, see?

10K (3-4 hours per week)

If 5K is 3.1 miles, then 10K is, you guessed it, 6.2 miles. Training for a 10K is really very similar to training for a 5K. At first glance, you might think that training to run 10 kilometers would take twice the time of running 5, but that’s not so.

If you’re sticking to a 3 day/week schedule, you may be running 3 hours a week, possibly a little more, to get to the 10K distance (depending on how fast you are and how much time you take to warm up and cool down).

Training for a 10K will have you running anywhere from 30 minutes per session in the beginning to around an hour as you reach your goal. So even though you’ve doubled your distance, your training time has only increased by about 50% because you’re getting stronger as a runner. 

There really isn’t any additional rest time necessary for a 10K than for a 5K, which is what makes the 10K my personal favorite distance to run.

Half-Marathon (5-6 hours per week)

Making the jump to half-marathon (13.1 miles) training from the 10K is a bit more involved than going from 5K to 10K. The biggest difference in terms of time commitments is that it’s a pretty good idea to block off four days per week to run rather than just three.

What that means is that you’re not going to have quite as much recovery time between runs. 5K and 10K training tends to be every other day, and when you’re going for a half-marathon, that’s not possible. At least two of your runs will be back-to-back.

This also means you need to learn how to budget your time. When you’re running between 30-60 minutes at a time, even your longest runs are coming after a day of rest. When you’re going up to 13.1, your long runs get longer (between 90 minutes and 2-2.5 hours), while your other runs may not take up much more time than at the end of your 10K cycle (3-ish hours total).

My personal half-marathon training for my first race was simple: three 10K runs on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and a long run on Saturday that started at 10K and added a mile each week). That meant that I was running 4 hours a week to start, and increasing my long runs by about 10 minutes each time. By the end of it, I was running between 5 and 6 hours per week in the mornings before work.

Other training programs include shorter runs and speedwork during the week, which does cut a few minutes or hours off the amount of time you set aside.

That’s Not Too Bad, Is It?

When you think about it, the amount of time that you have to put in to train for anything but the full marathon itself is completely doable with most people’s schedules. It may take you getting up earlier in the morning to run before work, or you might have to sacrifice a few Saturday morning garage sales, but in the end, it’s time you would be spending doing something, so why not spend it running?

Look at your schedule. Think about the amount of time that you spend on social media or watching television--or even just staring at your ceiling fan as it spins around and around and around. Tally it all up. Whatever number you come up with, I guarantee there’s a race you can train for using that time.

If you have 30 minutes a day, you can train for a 5K. If you can put in an hour, think about the 10K or half-marathon. And heck, if you’ve just got 15 minutes, consider the #runstreak as a goal.

Just don’t think you don’t have time. Like my favorite anonymous fitness quote says, “Someone busier than you is running right now.”

B.J. is a certified personal trainer from the American Fitness Institute and holds a Master’s degree in English. He is currently training for his first marathon. He’s also a geek who has lost 155 pounds. He wants to teach other geeks and nerds how to live healthy, fitness-oriented lives. You can find more of his work on his blog Geek Fitness.

Main Photo Credit, Second Photo Credit, Third Photo Credit, Fourth Photo Credit: Maridav/

Aug 20, 2015

Very interesting and useful as article! 👍

Aug 21, 2015

It's about priorities and substituting one thing for another. 👍🏼

Sep 25, 2015

And it's addictive!

Sep 28, 2015

I would give up anything to get back on my running shoes again.. I've never felt as youthful and strong as those years where I was clocking 40 miles a week all year long training.. Running is definitely the fountain of youth