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Workouts for the time-crunched marathon runner

Only have an hour to run? Here's how to get the most out of your workout

So you’ve committed to a marathon. Congratulations! But what happens when life happens, and all of a sudden your marathon training is taking a serious backseat to the other demands of your non-athletic world?

While it’s important to shift your expectations, here are some suggestions to get through your training as quickly and effectively as possible.


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Brittany Moran is a chiropractor, marathoner and coach of Stride Wise Running Club. She says that if you’re time-crunched, fartleks and tempos are your running best friends. “These are all great workouts for the runner who has about an hour in their day to get a really solid workout in. All of these workouts have minimal rest, so that you’re getting the most out of your limited time on the trails.”

Brittany Moran
Photo: Sam Relano/Instagram

Moran also says that these are great vacation workouts. “While you’re traveling, especially if it’s with people who aren’t marathon training, you’re probably looking to keep time spent running as low as possible without skimping on fitness. All of these workouts don’t require any special location and are pretty low-maintenance.”

Workouts for time-crunched runners

All of these workouts should include a quick warmup and cooldown of about 4K, or 20 minutes total.

1. 30 minutes of 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy

2. 3×10 minutes at marathon pace, with 2 minutes of jogging in between

3. 1K at marathon pace, 1K easy (if this gets too easy, bump it up to 2K on and 2K off)

4. Progression run: do an hour run, with the average pace being your goal marathon pace, but starting slower and ending faster.

5. Fartlek runs: use these as speed work–throw a pickup into your run by running fast to the next telephone pole or water fountain. Fartlek runs are really what you make of them. They’re really low-maintenance speed work.