Marathon training doesn’t have to take over your life
You’ve committed to training for a marathon. You’re also committed to your job, your family and your other interests. In fact, there’s plenty of other stuff you could be cracking on with. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done and before you know it the week, month, or perhaps even a year has flown by.
In an ideal world, you’d follow a bespoke marathon training plan, build-up progressively and appropriately, run four to six times a week, have plenty of time for stretching every day, eat really healthily, get loads of deep sleep, have regular physio and have time reflect and be mindful. Yeah. Right.
Training for a marathon on a busy life schedule is tough. As runners, we all know it takes commitment – but it is doable if you follow a few rules and plan ahead. You’ve got to know and understand your marathon motivations, commitments and constraints, and be happy with what you can realistically give.
Runners arrive at marathon start lines with very different training journeys, backgrounds, fitness levels, degrees of training success and race-day aspirations. You might not want to be in the best shape ever, but you do want to commit to some running, survive, get round and loosely enjoy your marathon.
There are some basics of being ready for a marathon that are non-negotiable:
- Do a build-up. You can’t rush or squeeze the miles in. Ideally you’ll have completed 12 weeks of regular running. A little consistent, regular running matters more than irregular, stop-start workouts.
- Weeks 1 to 4: build a routine, identify opportunities to get out and run. Be firm with yourself but flexible with your week where possible.
- Weeks 5 to 8: crank it up. Focus on one longer run a week that progressively increases in distance.
- Weeks 9-10: Not to be missed! These include the two longest runs you’ll aim to cover: 16 to 18 miles.
- Weeks 11-12: Stick to the routine, reduce the distance and volume and be fresh for marathon day.
- Actually do some running. Aim for three runs a week. In the first few weeks these will probably be shorter (under 45mins) as you progress and build up, but by the time you are rolling into week 4 to 10 these should be 45mins, 60mins and one longer effort.
- Do some distance. Run long. There’s no escaping the fact that a marathon is 26.2 miles. Run, jog, walk or crawl it you’ve got to cover that distance to bag your medal at the end. Be ready to tackle some distance runs and find the time in your week to add a little more distance as the weeks progress.
Time-saving training tips
- Focus your time commitments. Ask yourself honestly where you waste time and re-prioritise to get your run in.
- You can achieve a whole lot in 45 minutes. Runs don’t need to take ages. Run harder once a week to improve the benefits.
- Plan your diary. Run to or from work, run early in the morning or last thing at night.
- Find slots (negotiate them!) that work around your family, work and other commitments.
- Have a laugh. Don’t put a whole bunch of pressure on yourself. You’re supposed to want to do it. Drag a mate out for a run – they don’t have to be doing the marathon but might help keep you on track.