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How to make time to train for a marathon – without letting it run your life

How to train for a marathon without letting it run your life

There’s a saying in the running world that marathon training is the real endurance event and the actual race is just a victory lap.

Signing up to run a marathon is a big commitment because of the training. You’ll need to put in four months or so of tough workouts just to get to the start line.

And those workouts take time.

If you have a busy family, work, or social life (who doesn’t?!), then you might think it’s impossible to train for a marathon, too.

However, that’s not always the case. If you plan accordingly, you can train for a marathon – and still have a life.

Here’s how:

  • Reevaluate how much time training truly takes. If you’ve trained for a half marathon in the past, you may be surprised to learn that training for a full marathon doesn’t really take up too much more time. Certainly not double the amount of training time as the race distance would imply. You’ll likely only have to dedicate an extra 1 to 2 hours per week to marathon training. For half marathon training, you probably did one long run, one middle-distance run (or speed workout), and a few short, easy runs each week. That’s pretty standard for marathon training, too. The big difference is  the long runs get longer. While 18-milers may seem considerably longer than 12-milers, they really only take about an extra hour or so give or take a few minutes based on your pace. And those 18- and 20-milers only happen in the later stages of training. The first 6 weeks of marathon training may look identical to your half marathon training experience.
  • Follow a low mileage training plan. Of course, some marathon training plans call for double the mileage of half marathon plans with 60- or 70-mile weeks. But the average runner doesn’t need to log that many miles to finish a marathon. In fact, many successful marathoners peak around 40 miles per week – or even less. For instance, the FIRST training plan has runners peak between 25—33 miles per week with only three runs each week. If you’re not sold on the three runs per week approach throughout training, keep this trick in mind: focus on your important workouts. This means you have to do your long runs and speed workouts each week. If your short on time, it’s OK to miss your easy days or “junk” miles every now and then.
  • Cut back on other workouts. We know you don’t want to skip your favorite barre class or CrossFit workouts in the name of marathon training. But the truth is that you may need to swap your go-to form of cross-training for time spent in your running shoes the further along you get in marathon training. Not only will you save time, but dialing back a bit on other exercise may help you recover better so you feel stronger on your runs. You can hit up your favorite classes again once the race is over.

How do you keep marathon training from taking over your life?

Written by Jen Matz.

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