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Marathon Training Tips For Time-Crunched Runners

If you are time-crunched and finding it hard to fit in marathon training to your daily schedule, follow these tips.

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Whether you are a teacher, a stay-at-home mom, or a run your own business, running a marathon is a feat you can tackle at any age and level. And, with the right tools, you can be prepared for the long distance.

Sometimes it just takes some creative scheduling, like fitting in early runs or running right before dinner. It is possible to run around a busy schedule. Running might add to your schedule, but it can also provide stress relief and a life changing sense of accomplishment. Whether you are training on your own or with a group of friends, you can tackle the distance and enjoy the marathon.

Read on for some tips for making your training work in your busy schedule and what key areas you should devote your limited time.

1. Time Management

More and more we see even professional runners who also work full-time, while also raising kids. And not to say that we all should be running at a pro-level, but it’s encouraging to know there are ways to manage a full schedule with an intense training schedule.

In order to do so, you must become a master of time management. With busy and full schedules, planning your day ahead of time can be a game changer. That includes planning meals, laying out clothes the night before so you can get out the door quicker.

RELATED: Our Chef’s Favorite Weeknight Meal for Athletes

Plan out the day and do your best to make it work. Whether it’s treadmill runs or running around the park while the kids play, there are ways to work in your mileage and training.

2. Take Every Opportunity

Whether you are training for a marathon in hot weather or in lots of snow, it’s important to take every opportunity to train. Don’t wait. So if that means getting up at 4:30 a.m. to beat the heat or running during a lunch break, seizing opportunities can ensure that you will get in your running. Not every day will give great conditions to train in, so make sure you take advantage of opportunities to squeeze in a run.

3. Running is an Addition to Your Day

Deena Kastor, retired professional runner and Olympian, gives some great advice to those with a busy schedule: “Running is an important addition to an already busy schedule. It may seem counter-intuitive, but running is a great time to go over our daily to-do list and set priorities. Running time is just as valuable to our organizational skills as it is for our health. This is the best multi-tasking you can do for you and your productivity. As a bonus, once your body releases its endorphins and dopamine, you can’t help but be happier and more efficient at everything you do.”

4. Run More And Rest More

Kastor is an advocate for lots of rest, even with a busy schedule. She notes, “I find when I’m tired, the best thing I can do is head out for a run. Running invigorates my spirit and energy levels. So there are really no excuses (except injury) to get out and treat yourself to a run. Remember when you add more work load to your day, also add rest, so use running as an excuse to get into bed 30 minutes earlier.”

5. Set A Goal

Setting a clear goal can keep you motivated to excel despite a busy schedule. Knowing that each training session brings you one step closer to achieving said goal, you’ll be less likely to skip runs and ultimately your consistency.

6. Work Out In The Morning

For those runners who also work full-time, running in the morning beforehand is a great motivational hack. That’s because as hard as it is to wake up early and run, if the decision to head to the gym or eat dinner and watch Netflix after an 8-12 hour work day, choosing running becomes much, much harder.

RELATED: How to Cope with the Post-Marathon Blues

7. Lean into Training Alone

Though you might prefer to train with your running club, it can be hard to make their set schedule gel with the group’s. And while that is a bummer, learning to suffer alone is actually great preparation for the marathon.

That’s because you are almost guaranteed to run solo during the race, so taking confidence from your training runs can be a big mental boost come race day. Consider it an advantage that you get to run completely based on feel. Sometimes running in groups can force you into a pace that is too quick.

8. Find Ways to Enjoy Your Training

Remember, training for a marathon can and should be fun. While it’s certainly hard work, if you’re not enjoying your training a little bit you’re going to have a harder time sticking with it. If you’re feeling in a rut, try to switch around your training schedule and do a workout you know that you’ll enjoy.

And, when race day comes, you will be excited that you got in your training and are able to experience the joy of finishing a marathon. Instead of fearing the marathon, set a goal and enjoy the training.

9. Don’t Skip the Stretch

After all the tough training and schedule juggling, your body deserves a good stretch. Tag along with a friend to yoga class for a day, stretch while dinner is in the oven, or cut your run five minutes short and use that time to stretch out. Focus on the muscles that are tight. If your job requires you to sit in a chair all day or you have a long commute in the car, make sure to stretch your hip flexors and quads.

10. Shoes Make the Foundation

Your feet are what carry you, but your shoes are your foundation. The importance of good shoes and maintaining them can’t be skipped. Find time to go to your local running specialty store and get fitted in a shoe that’s right for you.

Make a note in any training apps you use so you can track how many miles you’ve logged on that single pair. Once you have ran 300-350 miles in them, donate them to a recycled shoe program near you and treat yourself to a new pair. This is a great way to stay injury free.

11. Study the Race Course

Race courses vary all over the world, so look online and find out more about the course you are going to race. This can help you better understand what will be important to prioritize in your training. If the race has a lot of hills in it, incorporate hills into your training. If it is typically warm where the race is located, try to train in similar conditions.

12. Find Your Inspiration

There are so many ways to get motivated, you just need to find what works best for you. Post a moving quote on your bathroom mirror. Put together a really exciting new playlist. Go volunteer at a neighborhood race or spectate a friend’s marathon. Get a hyper dog that needs the exercise and won’t let you get away with sitting on the couch. Whatever it is that gets you out the door and ready physically and mentally to toe the line.

RELATED: How Olympian Quanera Hayes Has Kept the Faith This Year

RELATED: Want to get stronger in preparation for your next marathon? Check out the annual Oxygen 8 Challenge from our sister publication Oxygen Mag for a three month strength training and nutrition plan.