Run Less Run Faster: How I Qualified for Boston Running 3-4 days a Week


Hi! Happy Thursday!

For the amount that I run/workout, I definitely don’t talk about it enough on my blog. I have lots of knowledge/experience when it comes to running, strength training, and cross training and have decided to start making that more prominent on my blog. That’s why today I am linking up with some other experienced runners to talk about how to make the most out of your runs by reducing the amount of times you run per week.

Run less & get faster?? That doesn’t sound too logical initially does it?? BUT- it can work great for people that are injury prone, get burnt out easily, or have a history of over training. I personally am injury prone as I have had some injuries in the past when I wasn’t taking care of my body as well. Using this approach of running less has helped me to ward off injuries while still getting faster. I even was able to qualify for the Boston Marathon at my first full marathon this spring using this method. If you are looking to get faster and up your fitness level, but constantly find yourself in a cycle of injury/rehab or always feel fatigued and burnt out then you should definitely consider this method.

There is actually a book on this training method called “Run Less Run Faster” which is very similar to my approach. You would probably guess that I have read this book due to how I train, but I have only read a couple of reviews of the book online.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1.

3-4 QUALITY runs per week. These runs include one progressive/up-tempo run, one long run, one easy shakeout run, and a track/interval workout. When I am marathon training I have a strict policy of “no junk miles”. That means every run has a purpose. I try to avoid lots of “easy” or “moderate” miles because they don’t make me any better and put more stress and strain on my muscles than I need. Alternate your run days with your cross training days as best you can.

Step 2.

2-3 Cross Training Workouts per week. These include cycling/biking, swimming, rowing, or using another cardio machine like the elliptical/stairmaster (beware of potential knee issuing using the stairmaster). Try to push yourself to a moderate/difficult level when cross training to maximize your endurance levels and improve your overall fitness. That way you can improve your running speed without all of the pressure and stress on the joints.

Step 3.

3-4 Strength Training Sessions Per Week. These sessions are meant to last 15-30 minutes and can be tacked onto the end of your run/cross training workout. It is important to do accessory work as a runner and various strength training workouts to help fend off injury and keep your muscles and bones strong. I am going to do another post on the strength training workouts I do each week, but if you are looking for a place to start then try dynamic body movements using lots of muscle groups like burpees, weighted lunges and planks, single leg dead lifts, bridge/glut raises, chest/bench press, tricep dips, and resistance band work.

Step 4.

RECOVERY. Recovering from a tough workout is SO important. Invest in a foam roller, compression socks, quality hydration sources (I love Nuun), and a yoga mat. Stretch out after your runs and before you go to bed. Doing all of the little things adds up and can really make a difference in your training.


Here’s a little example of what a typical training week looks like for me.

Sunday: Long Run 10-20 miles (depending on what I am training for)

Monday: Cross Train on the Spin Bike – 45min-1 hr intervals + Upper Body

Tuesday: Tempo Run 6-9 miles + lower body strength training

Wednesday: Cross Train on the Bike, Elliptical, Or Stair Mill + easy Body Wt. exercises

Thursday: Interval Run -Mile or 800 Repeats, 5k fast, etc- total 5-8 miles) + More strength training

Friday: Off or Active Recovery (easy yoga, hiking, walking, stretching, etc)

Saturday: Easy shakeout 2-4 miles + 1 hr Yoga


Each week for me is a little bit different, but this is often what it looks like. I change up my rest days or the days of the week that I do certain runs/ workout based on what I am feeling or what my body is telling me. This method has been working for me for the past two years. It helps me to prevent being burnt out when I run and helps me to prevent injury.

Tell me below:

Do you think you can run less and get faster?? Do you run every day?? Have you followed a marathon training plan in the past?? What is your favorite??


47 comments on “Run Less Run Faster: How I Qualified for Boston Running 3-4 days a Week”

  1. I love this approach and have heard other runners (and running coaches) suggest it in the past. Like you said, really great for those who are injury-prone or get burned out easily.

  2. Congratulations! Our running coach is a big proponent of a combination of quality days, long days, and the rest regular training runs and cross training. It’s the best approach for minimizing risk of injury.

  3. Congrats on qualifying for Boston! I enjoy training on 3-4 days of runs a week. I’m slow, but it’s always been nice to not feel like the entire week was taken up by just running.

  4. Wow, what an acomplishment! Congrats! Great tips 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading Emily!

  5. abbey sharp says:

    I totally agree!! Recovery after runs iso important to make sure you give your muscles a chance to repair, and your body a rest 🙂

    1. Can’t forget about recovery! So important!

  6. Kristin says:

    This is super interesting to me! I’m a runner who still feels “new.” It’s hard for me but I enjoy it. I hope to run more when the weather gets warm again, and this is really helpful info. Thanks!

    1. It will get easier Kristin! It is hard for most runners at first to really find their groove but it will come! Good luck 🙂

  7. Kalee says:

    I love your approach to running and your fitness all together. I think when we work our body a different way each day it does better! Plus it keeps it from getting boring!

    1. I agree with you Kalee! It definitely helps prevent boredom and burnout. Thanks for reading 🙂

  8. I’ve heard of a lot of people doing well with this plan. I tried it a few years back and had some trouble hitting the paces proscribed. I do currently run 3x week but mine are less structured.

    1. I think the plan is great for people that are injury prone! I think running a few times a week is great 🙂

  9. I did this plan without doing the Plan. I know that my body can’t handle ridiculous amounts of running, and cross training is a must!

    1. That is kind of what I did too Suz! I actually didn’t read the book- just some reviews. I am right there with you- cross training is always included in my plan!

  10. Kerri Olkjer says:

    I’m so glad you posted this! I feel exactly the same. I tend to overtrain. I do best when I stick to 3 to 4 runs a week. I was feeling weird, ha ha!

    1. I think most people think that runners have to run 6-7 days a week- that is so NOT the case! I always want to be able to run that much, but my body tells me cross training is a better idea!

  11. Ilka says:

    Adding my quality into your runs rather than just running plain miles definitely makes you a faster runner. Speed work really matters. I love your post on how achieve better running times with only 3 or 4 days of running per week. I have been struggling with speed work the last few weeks because it’s still quite humid here in South Florida.

    1. I definitely agree on the speed work Ilka! It has really cooled down here in the midwest so I have been doing lots of my speedwork on the treadmill. Hope that it cools off there for you soon!

  12. Congrats on qualifying! I’l have to research this more as I keep running more, or am getthing back into “really” running.

    1. Thanks Sarah! I hope the info was helpful to you!

  13. jill conyers says:

    Congratulations on the BQ! I’ve always created my own marathon training plans. Maybe I need to try this. Especially since I already have the book 🙂

    1. Thanks Jill! Its so crazy because I haven’t even read the book- BUT I know my body starts to get injured when I train too much. Let me know how you like the book!

  14. cross training does make a big difference…

  15. Love these tips here. I get bored so quickly so I have always have to be changing things up so I really like this approach to training.

    1. Thanks Rebecca! Changing things up really help with workout boredom!

  16. Angela says:

    Congratulations on qualifying for Boston! This sounds like a great plan, I would love to BQ some day!!

    1. Thanks Angela! You will get there one day!

  17. Congrats girl! That’s how I would do it! Less runs, but overall quality in all areas of my fitness routine!

    1. Thanks Rebecca! Sometimes less truly is more 🙂

  18. Clarinda says:

    I think cross and strength training are so important, and I agree that runners often find them the easiest to skip – leading to injuries. Boo.

    1. We are on the same page with cross training, Clarinda. We don’t want injuries over here!

  19. Esther says:

    I think this is a great approach. I see so many running daily and then getting burnt out and/or injured!

    1. Thanks for reading Esther! I try to avoid injury and burnout like the plague lol!

  20. Gretchen says:

    This is such great advice! I’m planning on running my third marathon next year, and I want to train properly for this one. I’ll definitely be using your method. Sounds great!

    1. Thanks for reading Gretchen! I hope that you marathon training goes well- I can’t wait to read about it 🙂

  21. Ilka says:

    Love this training advice! Pinning and stumbling!

    1. I hope some of these tips work for you Ilka!

  22. This is exactly how I trained for my first marathon. I’m very prone to getting shin splints and with working a crazy schedule didn’t want to burn myself out. And hey IT WORKED!

    1. I think it is such a great plan for people that are injury prone! Congrats on your first marathon Diana!

  23. Ellie Pell says:

    This post is really informative and it obviously works for both injury prone and those who just don’t have the time to run more than 3 times a week. I agree on the strength training. No weights are necessary, body weight is usually sufficient and it does loads for injury prevention. Great post!

    1. Thanks for reading Ellie! I am a huge proponent of body weight strength training, but I still do lift weights for fun! It is definitely a great method for those with limited time/ previous or current injuries!

  24. Ilka says:

    Featuring this post at this week’s Sunday Fitness & Food! Congrats Kerri!

    1. Thank you Ilka!! I’m so excited to check out the other posts!

  25. That’s an awesome accomplishment, congrats! I like the idea of running less and doing more cross-training since I have definitely suffered from burn-out. I trained for my first marathon with 4 days a week of running and I did a lot of cross-training. I feel that it made a difference!

    1. Thanks Janelle! I love to add in cross training to work different muscle groups!

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