Tips for Training when Time is Tight
I'm running Dublin marathon next weekend. Crikey, those last few months went by in a flash!
This summer has been super busy for me. We've had a family wedding in Italy, I've been setting up a new business and it was a summer of amazing sport to watch. I queued in boiling hot sunshine to see Wimbledon tennis, went to my first 20 20 cricket match and visited the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in the Olympic Park for the World Athletics a few times.
Whatever I do, my life always seems to be lived on accelerate, and it's sometimes really difficult to fit marathon training in to an already busy schedule.
A lot of you have now signed up to run marathons next spring and are looking around for the best training plans to use. Once you've found one you then need to work out ways you can fit all your training into your already busy week. If you plan ahead you can. Here are my top tips for training when time is tight.
1. Find a plan that works for you
There are loads of marathon plans around. Some work on as little as three training sessions a week, others can get you out running five or six times! You need to find a plan that works for you, for your level of fitness, your marathon goals and the time that you have available.
You also need to be factoring in some strength and conditioning sessions each week, as well as rest days. Yes, you need to plan in rest, otherwise you risk overtraining and injury.
Once you've found a plan that'll work for you schedule in your diary or calendar each session now. Find out what work, friends and family commitments you have and plan now how you're going to work your training around them.
2. Prioritise your training
We all lead busy lives and I'm sure running isn't the only commitment you have. Before you start your training think about all the other activities you do or responsibilities you have in the evenings or at weekends. Consider stepping back from a few, or politely saying no. You really will need every second of the day, outside work and family time, to focus on your training.
If there are projects in the home, rooms to be decorated or a new patio to be laid, consider postponing until after race day, to give you more time to focus on training.
3. Plan your food
Your diet is critical when you're training for a marathon. You're going to be putting your body through a lot of stress and strain, it will need energy to fuel your runs and good nutrition to aid recovery.
Ahead of training start planning out what types of balanced healthy meals and snacks you like and can easily prepare when you're stuck for time. I do a lot of batch cooking at weekends, so after I've finished training there's always something nutritious and tasty waiting for me at home to eat.
Plan your snacks. I'm a massive fan of bananas and bagels. They're great foods for pre workout carbs. And for recovery milk is one of the best recovery foods there is!
If you don't plan your diet well, you risk grabbing the nearest calorie dense nutrient deficient food, a muffin, pie or pasty, from your local take away or corner store. Poor nutrition won't do you any favours training or come race day. So plan in how and when you're going to make balanced, nutritious meals through your training.
4. Prepare your kit
Marathon training, especially training in the winter months, you're going to need a lot of kit. So it's worth investing in at least two pairs of running shoes, that can be alternated allowing one pair to be 'drying out', and a 'weeks worth' of other training kit, so you're not left foraging at the bottom of the laundry pile for socks first thing in the morning!
If you're training early in the morning have your kit prepared the night before. If you're training after work and need to take your kit with you, pack your bag (and any pre and post training snacks you need) the night before.
5. Find YOUR time to run
I was always an evening runner. Then one day I got a new boss who scheduled early evening team meetings I had to attend. At first I was annoyed, but I found a way.
If you're super busy in the evenings, can you run as part of your journey to work. Or get up 1 hour earlier for a speed session? I was doing sprint intervals at 5:30 am around where I live last winter!
Most plans suggest days of the week for each session. But don't worry if you have to swap training sessions around, just make sure that you include the right amount of recovery between your hard training runs, or you'll risk injury.
Your plan will have a long run each week. These are really critical, so make sure you schedule them in each week, and time to rest and recover after.
6. Look after yourself
Pushing yourself with running and a busy social life until you burn out is not going to help get you to race day. However busy you are, make time for yourself to chill out for a few minutes each day. You might also need to turn down the occasional social engagement through training. Listen to your body. If you're tired and need a rest, take one.
It's also really important to get a good amount of sleep whilst training. I find my sleep is much deeper and restorative when I'm training. Sleep is the time when your body rests and repairs, and is the time when you'll be fixing your hard worked legs after training.
Finally kick back and take a few full days off once in a while. Marathon training is tough on your body and your mind. Sometimes a day or weekend just chilling out can rejuvenate you, especially when morale and motivation are flagging.
You want to get to that start line, fit, healthy and in the best shape of your life. So now's the time to prioritise you and what you need to do to achieve your goals.
If you've a marathon in your sights why don't you come and join Marathon Club Hub to help with your training and preparation for your race. Marathon Club Hub will help you ramp up your running for your marathon, focusing on the right foods for fitness, strength and conditioning to fitness your form, as well as keeping you engaged and motivated along the way.
Click here to join now!