You CAN Have a Life During Your Marathon Training! Here’s How
When you decide to sign up for a marathon, you aren’t just signing up for race day, but for 4-6 months of training. It’s a big decision with major factors to consider before registering; discussed in a previous article, “Is Jumping on the Marathon bandwagon the Right Move for You?”. While marathon training is going to be a big part of your life, it doesn’t have to be your life.
Here is how to keep consistent with your marathon training, while still having a life outside of running.
Consider the Season
Fall is probably the most popular time of year for the marathon distance. It’s easy to picture yourself running in cooler temps and beautiful fall foliage, which from experience, is wonderful! But keep in mind, while you will be running your race in the fall, you’ll be doing the majority of your training during the summer.
Getting in as many of your long run miles before the heat sets in will be a priority, meaning a 4:30am wake-up call suddenly makes more sense, as does making it an early night. Another thing to consider is that summer is synonymous with travel. Between your own family’s vacations, guests popping in for a visit (I’m in Chicago and not surprisingly, no one visits us in the winter!), and weddings, your calendar is probably booked by June.
Needless to say, it can be tough to fit training runs around weekend trips and heatwaves. Now, consider spring. A late spring marathon can bring the same cool temps and spring beauty, but shift your training months to March-June. This means you can do your long runs at 8am instead of 5:30, and summer travel plans can be made without a training plan to consider.
Yes, you should strive to be consistent with your training, but a training plan is not set in stone. As I mentioned before, if you chose to train during a high travel time of year, consider shifting your long run to a different day. Personally, I have done a long run on a Thursday, allowing my husband and I to travel to NYC on Friday morning where I did my mid-week run through Central Park on Saturday. I didn’t have to cut any miles, and got to enjoy a surprise weekend getaway.
Splitting up your weekday runs helps, too. You can run some before work, then afterwards run the rest with a friend or family member.
Runmmuting and Multitasking
Runmmuting – or, a run commute – is a great way to work your training runs into your life. The logisitcs can be tricky, but running to and/or home from work is a super efficient way to get your weekday training runs in, and if your runs are an hour or less, consider fitting them in during lunch. I’ve run to the grocery and taken an Uber home, or run to a friends house for a post work get together so I can check off my run and still see my friends.
If your kids have sports activities on the weekends, consider running around the area their game or practice is. Take the dog out for all or part of your run, or catch up with a friend or family member for a few miles and make your training not just about you!
I typically do my long runs on Saturdays so I like having something fun planned post-run or that night. Go to brunch, take the kids (or dog!) to the park, or try a new dinner spot; just have something fun in the works so your day isn’t completely focused on your run. Especially when you have major mileage on the calendar, it’s best for recovery to keep moving around as opposed to sitting on the couch the entire day. While it’s tempting to have a movie marathon, having something to do will make it easier to keep your muscles in motion and ensure your memories of months spent training aren’t only of running. Plus, you don’t want to alienate all your friends!
Train with a Group
When you train with a group, you aren’t sacrificing social time because running is social time. As a running coach of a marathon training group, I can personally attest to the party that is group training! Many runners join a group solo, and end the training season with a group of true friends. It makes training not such a solo endeavor of sacrifice, but a morning workout with friends in the same boat. The miles run are also spent catching up on the week behind you, the day ahead, and more often than not, post-run brunch plans.
Training for the marathon is the hardest part of the marathon, but with these tactics in mind, it can add to your life, not take it over!