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12 Marathon Training Tips for Time-Crunched Runners

Lauren Jimison has some guidelines to follow if you’re finding it hard to fit marathon training runs into your schedule.

Lauren Jimison has some guidelines to follow if you’re finding it hard to fit marathon training runs into your schedule.

Whether you are a teacher, a stay-at-home mom, or a businessman, running a marathon is a feat you can tackle at any age and level. And, with the right tools, you can be prepared for the long distance.

Whether it is fitting in early runs or running right before dinner when your wife or husband gets home, it is possible to run around a busy schedule. Running might add to your schedule, but it can also provide stress relief. Whether you are training on your own or with a group of friends, you can tackle the distance and enjoy the marathon. Read on for some non-conventional tips from professionals and coaches.

1. Time Management

Brianne Nelson, a professional runner for American Distance Project/Adidas, finished second at Grandma’s Marathon over the summer with a 2:34.44. She’s a wife, a mom of two sweet girls and a full-time runner. So, how does she balance it all? “Time management is huge!” she said. Because she has a busy and full schedule, she plans ahead: “Meals are planned out. Clothing is laid out so early morning, I can just go!” Nelson does not make excuses for not having time. Instead, she plans and makes it work. Whether it’s treadmill runs or running around the park while her kids play, she gets in her mileage and training.

2. Take Every Opportunity

Whether you are training for a marathon in hot weather or in lots of snow, it’s important to take every opportunity to train. Don’t wait. So if that means getting up at 4:30 a.m. to beat the heat or running during a lunch break, seizing opportunities can ensure that you will get in your running. Not every day will give great conditions to train in, so make sure you take advantage of opportunities to squeeze in a run!

3. Running Matters

Deena Kastor, an ASICS Mammoth Track Club professional runner, Olympian and an American Record holder in many distances including the marathon, gives some great advice to those with a busy schedule: “Running is an important addition to an already busy schedule. It may seem counter-intuitive, but running is a great time to go over our daily to-do list and set priorities. Running time is just valuable to our organizational skills as it is for our health. This is the best multi-tasking you can do for you and your productivity. As a bonus, once your body releases its endorphins and dopamine, you can’t help but be happier and more efficient at everything you do.”

RELATED: Coach Culpepper: Transitioning To Fall Marathon Training

4. Run More And Rest More

Kastor is an advocate for lots of rest, even with a busy schedule. She notes, “I find when I’m tired, the best thing I can do is head out for a run. Running invigorates my spirit and energy levels. So there are really no excuses (except injury) to get out and treat yourself to a run. Remember when you add more work load to your day, also add rest, so use running as an excuse to get into bed 30 minutes earlier!”

5. Set A Goal

Time Tollefson runs for Sacramento Running Association and is a 2:18 marathoner, but he is also a Physical Therapist in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and still manages to not only be an excellent physician, but also run. So how does he do it? “Set a goal,” he says. “Knowing that each training session brings you one step closer to achieving said goal, you’ll be less likely to skip runs and ultimately your consistency.”

6. Work Out In The Morning

Tollefson also gives some guidance to those that work: “As hard as it is to wake up early and run, if the decision to head to the gym or eat dinner and watch Netflix is left to be decided after an 8-12 hour work day, you’ll lose every time.”

7. Training Alone

Tollefson does many training runs on his own and knows that others probably do the same. But it’s not an excuse. In fact, it can be an advantage. “Learning to suffer alone is great preparation for the marathon,” he says. “You are almost guaranteed to run solo during the race, so taking confidence from your training runs can be a big mental boost come race day. Consider it an advantage that you get to run completely based on feel. Sometimes running in groups, especially with the notorious one-steppers out there, can force you into a pace that is too quick.”

RELATED: 5 Common Marathon Training Mistakes

8. Enjoy Training

Remember, training for a marathon can be fun. And, when race day comes, you will be excited that you got in your training and are able to experience the joy of finishing a marathon. Plus, you will accomplish a goal that many wish to accomplish. So instead of fearing the marathon, set a goal and enjoy the training.

9. Stretch

Andrew Kastor, ASICS Mammoth Track Club and LA Marathon Coach, gives a key tip: “Your body deserves a good stretch. Tag along with a friend to yoga class for a day, stretch while dinner is in the oven or cut your run 5 minutes short and use that time to stretch out. Focus on the muscles that are tight. If your job requires you to sit in a chair all day or you have a long commute in the car, make sure to stretch your hip flexors and quads.”

10. A Good Foundation

Andrew Kastor also notes the importance of shoes: “Your feet are what carry you, but your shoes are your foundation. Go to your local running specialty store and get fitted in a shoe that’s right for you. Once you have logged 300-350 miles in them, donate them to a recycled shoe program near you and treat yourself to a new pair. This is a great way to stay injury free.”

RELATED: Kara Goucher’s Marathon Training Tips

11. Copy Cat

Andrew Kastor gives a little insight into race courses: “Race courses vary all over the world, so look online and find out more about the course you are going to race. If the race has a lot of hills in it, incorporate hills into your training. If it is typically warm where the race is located, try to train in similar conditions.”

12. Find Inspiration

“There are so many ways to get motivated,” says Andrew Kastor. “Post a moving quote on your bathroom mirror. Refresh the music on your MP3 player. Watch “Spirit of the Marathon.” Get a hyper dog that needs the exercise and won’t let you get away with sitting on the couch.”