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Balancing Life and Marathon Training

Posted February 24, 2015

I’m busy. I’d imagine you are too. We all have multiple responsibilities that make this fairly unavoidable. In my particular case, I am a wife, a mom to two sweet and inquisitive young kids, an employee in a fast-paced law firm, a friend, a volunteer in multiple settings and (dare I say it) a runner. I’ve accepted the fact that life is full and likely will be for a while but I’ve also learned, sometimes through trial and error, how to balance these priorities in a way that keeps me going and motivated to take on the challenge of performing each of these roles well. I keep talking to people, especially parents, who’ve given up on the thought of exercise in this stage of their lives because they feel like they just can’t fit it in. I don’t always maintain the priority-balancing act well, but that’s part of what learning and growing is all about, right? I can say, though, that I just completed running 145 miles in a month and still feel balanced in the above mentioned areas. There are a few strategies I’ve learned along the way that have been game changers for me in this effort to hold on to the fitness goals in my life. Here are a few:

Planning ahead

Each night, schedule when you can fit a run in the following day. Factor in the distance and amount of time you estimate your run will take, especially if you’re training for a race and hold tight to that time! Sometimes that will mean waking up earlier than usual. Sleep is pretty critical to running well so make sure to go to bed early enough and have your gear (including lights and reflectors if it will be dark) ready to go to make it as easy as possible to get up and get out there. One trick I use to get going when it’s cold and dark out; focus on the first few steps. Usually once I get past the initial discomfort and get into my groove, I’m good to go.

Multitask and be flexible

There are times when I start my day at 6 am because of a work meeting or volunteer activity and there is just no way I’m going to get up earlier than that to run. So, that leaves the afternoons, after work, when I am responsible for my kids as the only other option for me to get my run in. I would love to know how many hours I’ve spent pushing our double stroller around SLO. Tricks for keeping the little ones entertained: books, small toys, lollipops and playing all those games we used to play on long car trips. I hate to admit this but sometimes that also means running (literally) to meetings, even business meetings, jetting into the nearest restroom to wash my face and quickly do an outfit change before strolling into that meeting. Sometimes it’s running (again, literally) errands or running to pick up the kids from school. Sometimes it’s hitting the treadmill. And sometimes it’s heading to the track to let the kids play on the grass in the middle, while I run around and around in circles. Traveling? Explore the cities you visit or take advantage of hotel fitness centers.

Give yourself some grace

There are days where you just won’t be able to make it happen. That’s okay! If you can fit a mile or two in, great. Count that a victory even if it’s not meeting your training schedule. If not, remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day and a chance to get back out there. In the big scheme of things, missing one or two runs out of weeks and weeks of training won’t do too much damage.

Running, especially training for a race, is a commitment we make. In the mix of all of your life’s priorities, I hope these are a few helpful tips to help you stay true to your commitment and in finding time to achieve your fitness and running goals. Enjoy the process and, always, #ShareSLO!