How to Train For a Marathon When You Are Too Busy

Emily from Wimi-fitness talking about training for a marathon when you are busy…

Ah, the marathon. It’s the 26-mile-long pinnacle of your achievement as a runner. Once you get serious about pounding the pavement, you won’t want to stop until you’ve got a few completed marathons under your belt… and then a few more. 

But if you’re anything like me, you’ve got more than a few daily obligations to juggle. Between writing and editing WIMI Fitness’s blog, managing my career, and keeping up with athletics news, I barely have time to fit in my daily run. Some days, it just doesn’t happen. Even diehards like me need to skip a day now and then. That doesn’t mean that I can’t run a marathon, though, and no matter how busy you are, you can run one too. 

Step 1: Don’t Give It Up

You ARE going to run this marathon. It’s written in stone. Plan on it, because it’s going to happen. Place it high in your mind as a landmark toward which you run whenever you train. When other people bug you with their priorities, remember that this landmark exists. Make time for it, because it’s not going anywhere. 

When you begin to act as though the marathon is inevitable, everyone around you will, too. Certainly, it can’t dominate your life. Balance in all things is important and healthy. But your marathon can be significant. If an extra shift comes up at work, it’s OK to refrain from volunteering. You’ve done your duty and now you have to run. If your partner can pick your kids up from school, let them. Your kids are wonderful, but they’ll see you at dinner, and that marathon isn’t going anywhere. You’ve got to prepare before it arrives. Think of how proud and impressed your family, friends and coworkers will be when you cross that finish line.

Not for nothing, a family or group of friends who runs together often has a lot of fun together. One way to get ahead on that we-time while you keep up your training is to suggest running with friends instead of coffee. If they’re serious runners too, all the better. Accountability partners, as Amanda Brooks of Run to the Finish points out, can do a lot to help you stay on track. 

Step 2: Lifestyle Adjustments Are Everything

Heba Hosny at the great blog Run Addicts points out that good health doesn’t just mean going to the gym. In fact, it’s just as important to get enough sleep and eat your green vegetables as it is to exercise. You can also fit little exercise cheats into your daily routine. Running up the stairs instead of taking the elevator can give you a big cumulative health boost if you do it every day for a year. 

Even if you do fit in enough running time, remember that every candy bar or bowl of ice cream will set you back by days. It’s not just that these are fatty, high-calorie foods. Sugar is your enemy when it comes to training: it gives you nothing but a moment of gratification, and in return you get a sugar crash and a metabolism working too hard to get rid of the junk you just fed it. 

Look at when you’re running, too. Getting up early in the morning might be a pain, but it’s one of the only places in your schedule where you have real flexibility. Try running before everyone else wakes up. As an added bonus, you’ll be extra-alert for the rest of your day. 

Step 3: Train Intelligently

OK, so you’re doing both middle distance runs and speed runs. Good job! That’s how you should be training. But there are better ways to do that. As Amanda Loudin writes at Runners Connect, why not make your middle distance day your speed day, too? She’s got plenty of other good advice, too, especially if you’re going at your training in a disciplined way. For instance, she suggests combining two days of training into one, which I wholeheartedly support, and adding your runs to your week before all else. That’s a crucial factor to your success: running matters to you, therefore it is a priority. If you want to complete your marathon, your running needs to have top billing. 

Step 4: Consider How Training Makes The Rest of Your Life Better

How long do you really think you’ll have the energy to keep up your pace if your level of fitness falls off? Sure, right now you can zoom around picking up kids with one hand as you write your blog and run the boardroom with the other, but the mere fact that you can do that is a testament to your physical endurance. It’s a monument the fact that you’ve taken the time to take care of yourself first. 

But in the end, that’s the real reason we run, isn’t it? It makes us feel good. It makes the rest of our lives healthier, happier, longer and stronger. No matter what other obligations reside on your shoulders, your marathon is a priority for YOU. And YOU are important, too. Your family and coworkers see the benefits of a fit and happy you all the time. Make space for your own running zen and train your heart out. This is something that you earn every day.

In Brief…

You won’t just run this marathon: you’ll rule this marathon. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll cross that finish line in great time, regardless of how busy the rest of your schedule is. You’ll find the time to train and, like thousands of other marathoners around the world, you’ll master the demands of daily life the same way you’ve mastered your physical health. Whether you’re juggling kids, work and training, or you’re in school, or you’re just flush with responsibility, you deserve a good race. You’re worth putting the time in on yourself. If I can do it, so can you.