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360 YOU: A Day in the Life of Mary Cain

How does the runner get it all done?

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We asked our 360 YOU pro mentor Mary Cain to take us through what a typical day looks like for her. She works three full-time jobs in addition to an aspirational training schedule and has, like everyone, a personal life. Some of our favorite surprises: Cain swims (a lot), journals, reads, and writes for fun.

8 a.m. When I’m in full training mode I get up earlier, so I appreciate the sleep-ins. I start the day with a coffee, writing in my morning journal, and having breakfast. It’s cold out, so I’ve decided to do my short run on the treadmill later when I’m at the gym instead of going outside. Usually, I prefer running in the morning and saving my coffee and full breakfast for after, so I appreciate the slow wake-up.

8:30 a.m. Since I’m training mid-day today, I’m logging in to get some work done first thing. I usually sprinkle training and work in throughout the day, so no two days look exactly alike. This morning, I do a mix of answering emails for Atalanta NYC and NYRR.

11 a.m. There are some magical days where I only have a few calls, and this is one of those days. First Zoom of the day is just 30 minutes with a coworker and it is great catching up. I usually take calls from my desk (in our bedroom) or from the living room. The latter is nice because it means my dog, Nala, is nearby snuggling, playing, and/or howling at an ambulance.

11:30 a.m. I take my second call of the day. Since it’s just over the phone, I am able to multitask and pack my bag for the gym and also put together my lunch.

12 p.m. Call is over and lunch is ready. It’s leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. Every weekend, I meal prep a few dinners and lunches for the work week. Living in New York City means there are an incredible amount of dining options within a few minutes walk of my apartment, so I usually plan which days I’ll eat in vs. go out for lunch in advance.

12:30 p.m. Dressing warm, I head out to the subway. One of the biggest perks in my opinion of living in New York is that I don’t have to worry about driving. I live in the Upper West Side, so I can get to the bottom of Manhattan or Van Cortland Park within a 30-minute subway ride. Today, I’m heading downtown to go to the gym. It’s a straight shot down on the express, so I put in my noise cancelling headphones and read my book. I’m an avid reader (in 2021 I read 34 books) and subway trips are a great chance for me to devour a good story (or answer emails if I have cell access).

RELATED: These Classic Running Books Were Made for Cold-Weather Reading

1 p.m. At the gym, so I first hop on the treadmill for a short and easy 20 minutes. I took a long break from training and I’m just getting back into the swing of things. This run is short enough that I just listen to music. When runs on the treadmill are longer (in the 45 minutes range or more), I prefer propping my phone on the console and watching a show. Usually something mindless that I can zone in and out of paying attention to is preferable.

1:30 p.m. I dive into the pool for a 3,100-yard swim. I grew up a competitive swimmer, so I realize 124 laps sounds like a lot for most people, but this is a short swim for me (again, getting back into shape after time off). I typically target an average of 4,000 yards per swim when I’m back into full training. Today’s swim is an aerobic set, so mostly easy- to tempo-paced efforts. Yesterday’s swim was faster, so I’m happy how my arms and back aren’t sore like I was expecting them to be!

Note on swimming: If you’re interested in getting into swimming, I highly recommend working with a swim instructor at least to start so you can gain confidence in the water. Also, it’s super important to hydrate well when swimming, since the chlorine can really dehydrate you. I always bring two water bottles with a NUUN tablet in them—one for during, one for after.

P.S.: Yes, I totally think staring at the black line in the middle pool for hours as a kid and still having a blast in swim practice is why I can easily do an eight-mile run around a 300-meter field.

RELATED: 6 Pool Workouts for New, Intermediate, and Advanced Swimmers

3 p.m. Showered and changed, so heading back home. Back to my book and answering some messages from coworkers on the ride uptown.

3:30 p.m. Last call of the day. I am two minutes late, but so is the other person. Another productive conversation to feel like I’m on track with 2022 goals for Atalanta NYC.

4:00 p.m. Done with calls so get back into a flow of answering emails, scheduling meetings, and prepping some documents. I have some exciting projects coming up in the next few months, so it’s always a delicate balance making sure my schedule has time for both training and getting all my work done.

6:00 p.m. Logging off! I try to pull myself away from work by 7:00 p.m. at the latest, but today I’m done with all pressing tasks while getting ahead on a few things. Having recently founded Atalanta NYC, I’ve had to learn the hard way that there is such a thing as overworking (you’d think I would already know that from running, but alas). When you’re building something brand new, it’s easy to feel like there’s always something more you should be doing. But the truth is, you’re always going to feel that way. So learning how to log off is a vital skill in preventing burn out.

RELATED: As Burnout Rages On, Here’s How to Avoid It in Your Running

7:00 p.m. Dinnertime. My boyfriend, Jake, is often the one who takes the lead with dinner (read: he’s a better cook). Tonight, though, he decided to grab dinner while out walking Nala. There’s a bodega near us that makes great sandwiches that we pick up for the night.

9:30 p.m. Over the last couple of hours, I did some writing (something I do for fun) and we watched a show. Time to get ready for bed.

10:00 p.m. Good night!

This article is part of our three-month 360 YOU program, available free to Women’s Running members. Find out what the program is all about here or head to the collection page to dive into the available training and inspirational content.