Here are a few tips on fitting your marathon or ultra-marathon training into your hectic life. The trick is to make every moment count and to have a clear plan. It’s easy to fall into the mindset that you are too busy to run. Training for a marathon takes a lot of time. Training for an ultra takes even longer. You may have already given up television, books, and video games but it can still be tough to find the time to sneak training into a busy day or week. Here are a few tricks to help you make space for running in your busy life.
Start early. Get your run in as early in the day as you can. Life can be unpredictable, things come up , and the day slips away. If at all possible get your run in first thing in the morning. Run before you check email, before the kids wake up, before breakfast…..you get the picture. The longer you wait to do your work out the greater the chance something will throw you off coarse.
Keep It Social. There is no need to separate your social life from your training plan! Run with your friends. Big races are typically in the spring and fall so odds are that one of your running friends is training for something too. Team up and do your long runs together. Create a ritual or adventure surrounding your runs. Plan a road trip for that 30 mile training run or just have a set day that you always meet up for a run and go have brunch.
Group runs. Most cities and towns have running groups that have free and regular group runs. Run clubs across the country have weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly runs to suit almost any type of runner. Join a group and make the meet-up a “must-do” item on your calendar. Many race directors are organizing training runs to amp up excitement. Check the website of the race you’re training for for more info. To find a run club and group runs in your area check with your local running specialty store, ask friends, or reach out to a run group on Facebook. In northeastern Ohio there is at least one running club meeting every day.
Early Miles! No, not necessarily early in the day. If you’re planning on joining in on a group run it’s totally likely runners will be meeting up prior to the event to mark the course or just to get in a few extra miles before the official run starts. This can turn a 5 mile run into 10 or more depending on how early you go.
Every bit Counts. A short run is better than no run. If you are having particularly crazy week at work, you’re on a family vacation, whatever, sneak in any miles you can. A quick 3 miles between getting off work and dinner will put some miles on Strava without putting a dent in your busy schedule.
Have a Plan. Schedule your runs. Are you following a training plan? Most people’s lives don’t perfectly fit into a Monday thru Sunday format so it’s easy to get side tracked and miss some of your runs. At the beginning of each week, say Sunday night, sit down with your training plan and your calendar. Depending on your job and what else is going on in your life you may find you need to flex your long runs and rest days. Do your long run Thursday if that’s your day off. Remember that you’re not stuck with having to run five days every week. You can make it happen running three to six days if you need to2, just re-arange the miles to make it work for you.
Date Run. Is your spouse or significant other a runner too? It can be hard finding time to spend together doing traditional date things like concerts and movies. Plan a run date night. You could share an evening long run under a full moon out on the trails and pack tasty snacks to share, run through downtown past all the hip clubs and people out on the town and end your run at a favorite bar for a drink, or do a morning tour of the waterfalls in your area before brunch.
Stop Cooking. Home made meals are over rated. They take up so much time and usually cost more then their restaurant counterparts. Try a meal service, and no, not the kind where you have to cook. There are many companies popping up that are offering fresh, healthy, plant based options. Even grocery stores are getting in on the prepared meals trend with Whole Foods and Mustard Seed having the most glorious salad bars, delis, and remade options ever.
Kids as pacers. Get the whole family involved! Being a parent and training can be tricky. Depending on how old your kids are and what types of runs you need to get it, there are a few clever ways to blend running with family time. You can throw the baby in a stroller and do a few miles around the neighborhood. If they’re a bit older and you’ve got more miles to do have them ride their bike along side you while you run. You can load their bike up with water bottles, put them in charge of maintaining a certain pace, and talk about how their day at school was. You may find you have the best conversations while you’re running plus they won’t let you walk up the hills!
Make Space. Be mindful of what you are spending time in your life doing. It can be easy to take on all sorts of tasks and responsibilities that really don’t make a big impact on anything. Going to a party and need to bring something to share? It does’t need to be homemade pie. Stop at the store on your way and buy a pie or even better, a veggie tray. Stop ironing your own clothes, bring them to the dry cleaners. Most dry cleaners offer a free pick up & delivery system you can use to save even more time. Even routine things like getting an oil change or car repair can be even easier. Check with your dealership, some offer a valet service where they will come to your home or work to pick up your car and will return it you when it’s done. The only time you spent was a quick phone call and a signature.
Power Lunch. How long is your lunch break? If you get an hour then you’ve got plenty of time to sneak in a workout. What type of workout will really be determined by what sort of job you have. A computer programmer may be able to run 5 miles and then eat at his desk because they don’t have to smell nice for anyone later in the day. A bank executive can’t show up to a meeting all post run sweaty so a good option for them may be an express yoga class.