Spring marathon training is well underway – and with the big mileage looming you may be wondering how on earth you fit it all in! 

Balancing work, family, social commitments, and personal well-being leaves little room for lengthy training sessions. However, with strategic planning and dedication, fitting marathon training into a busy life is possible.

Whilst I haven’t won any records I have trained and run multiple marathons.

Here are a few tricks I’ve learnt along the way :

  • Set realistic expectations: My top piece of advice. Pick a training plan that fits your lifestyle by working out how many days you can realistically train (any more is a bonus). If your schedule is packed, opt for a plan or a goal time that doesn’t require training every single day. It’s better to stick to a manageable routine than overcommit and risk burnout.
  • Take it week by week: Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the entirety of your training plan, focus on one week at a time. Assess your schedule at the beginning of each week and adjust your training days accordingly. Flexibility is key; if a particular day looks too hectic, don’t hesitate to swap it with a rest day and reschedule your run.
  • Consistency is key: While the occasional rest day won’t derail your progress, consistently skipping training sessions will hinder your marathon preparation. Treat your training schedule as non-negotiable appointments and prioritise them accordingly. Remember, every step counts, even on the busiest of days.
  • Have a backup plan: Life is unpredictable, and there will inevitably be days when sticking to your original training plan feels impossible. Keep an alternative, less demanding training plan handy for those exceptionally hectic days. Something is always better than nothing.
  • Break it up: Don’t be afraid to break your runs into smaller, more manageable segments. If a long run feels daunting, split it into two shorter sessions throughout the day. Not only does this make the task seem less intimidating, but it also allows you to fit your training around other commitments more easily.
  • Embrace early mornings: As daunting as it may sound, getting up a little earlier can make a huge difference. Even a short morning run can set a positive tone for the day and contribute to your overall mileage. Remember, those extra miles add up over time and bring you closer to your marathon goal.
  • Explore alternatives: Running doesn’t always have to start and end at your doorstep. Consider incorporating your commute into your training regimen. Running to work may not be an option for everyone (my commute is 80 miles) hopping off a train/bus a few stops early and running the rest of the way is an efficient way to sneak in extra mileage.
  • Use your lunch break: Utilise your lunch break by squeezing in a few midday miles. It all adds up and it’s better for you than browsing social media or online shopping. I promise.

Training for a marathon is as much about mindset as it is physical training. Make it work around you – if you really want it you’ll find a way, if not, you’ll find an excuse!