When I signed up for my first marathon, I had no idea it would become such a large part of my weekly life. I had run numerous half marathons, but the training never interfered with the daily grind. I guess I never really thought that double the distance would mean double the time commitment…and then some!
As much fun as it is—remember, you registered because you love to run—marathon training is a sacrifice. But not just for you. The time requirements can also affect family, friends and coworkers. It really does take a village to train for a marathon!
Over the years, I’ve found some tips that have helped me keep a balance with marathon training and life:
Be flexible in your training to meet other commitments. Don’t skip out on gatherings with friends and family just because you have a long run in the morning. There is a life to live outside of running.
Find a time to train that works best for you. Since having kids, I found that working out first thing in the morning is what works best for me. There’s no competition for my time at zero dark thirty. I can get my workout in and not have to worry about it taking away time from my family or other commitments throughout the day.
Don’t drop strength training or core work to make time for other things. You are setting yourself up for an injury. Trust me on this on. I’ve been there before! Sneaking in even 10-15 minutes as part of a dynamic warm up or cool down can be beneficial.
Split your runs. I don’t love splitting my runs, but something is better than nothing when you are pressed for time. When my marathon training plan calls for a 10-mile run on a Wednesday and I have to be to work at 7:30 a.m., it means my zero dark thirty run just got even darker. On days when a super early run is more than I can fathom, I’ll run five miles in the morning at a hard pace and another five miles after work at an easy pace. A bonus to splitting the run is getting used to running on tired legs – perfect for running a marathon.
Socialize and run. Hanging out with friends is often the first thing to go when I need to make more time for running, but there is no reason you can’t combine the two. Rather than spending time chatting over coffee or drinks, take the conversation to the streets or trails. I’ve had some of the best conversations with friends while running.
Expect life to get in the way. Illnesses, work, family gatherings, child care issues, bad weather – it happens! While training for the Boston Marathon this past winter, my first 20-miler just so happened to fall on a morning when it was -8 degrees (without the wind chill). I knew I’d be miserable running in that for almost 3 hours and there was no way I was spending that much time on the treadmill. So I decided to move it to the following weekend and run a shorter distance. You can’t fully control everything, especially over a 12-24 week training period. When obstacles arise, accept them and move on. Don’t overanalyze.
Like always, trust your training.