Finding The Time to Train

This is part 3 of a 9-part series where I cover various topics in preparation for the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon on my blog. Today I’ll discuss how I find time to train for a marathon. In the previous post, I discussed how my eating habits have changed as i train.

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Training for a marathon is a major time commitment which can be difficult to manage when you factor in your day job (unless you get paid to run!), your family, and a myriad of unplanned events that can derail even the most flexible of training plans. Before I started training for marathons, my runs were often unplanned and the distances varied depending on how I felt or how much time I had to run. If i didn’t feel like running, there was no impact as I was not training for a race.

Training For My First Half

When I started to train for my first half marathon in 2014, I followed the Hal Higdon Half Marathon – Novice 1 training plan. From what I recall from my training, I was pretty consistent with my runs. I didn’t do much speed work at the time mostly because I didn’t really understand the importance of speed work and it, quite frankly, running really fast made me nervous! This particular plan consisted of four days of running, two days of rest, and one day of cross training (which was really a third day of rest). At the time, I was starting a new job and my runs rarely exceeded 5-6 kilometres during the week so it wan’t much of a challenge to find the time to run after work. My long runs always took place on a Saturday and only exceeded 16 kilometres towards the very end of the plan; as a result, I was rarely away from home for more than 1 1/2 hours.

Finding Time to Run

Once I started training for my first marathon, my weekday runs became increasingly longer (10-15 kilometres) and my long runs started to encroach uncharted territory. On Sunday, March 1st, 2015, I ran 30 kilometres for the first time! Sunday long runs took on a whole new meaning for me and I was finding I was now away from home 4 or 4 1/2 hours!

Whenever I speak with fellow runners about training plans, we often discuss how many kilometres we run in a given week and how we feel. Rarely does the conversation come up about the impact on our families when we run as much as we do. My son was turning 5 when I started training for his first marathon and was participating in a number of after-school programs and weekend activities.

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Picking-up my son from aftercare after one of my runs.

For my weekday runs, I had to adjust my training schedule my runs between work and picking-up my son from aftercare. My routes were always planned so I could finish my run at the aftercare facility and distances were dictated by how much time I had. Fortunately for me, I am able to get to work early and leave early. There were days where I had late meetings and I did not plan any runs on those days (that or I occasionally ran later in the evening). There were times where meetings were booked at the last minute and it just meant I had to be flexible with my runs. On top of all this, we have two golden retrievers and I have to factor in their walks with my runs!

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For weekend runs, I had to finish in time to pick my son up from Sunday Hebrew school. For the most part, I always arrived a few minutes early, but there were a few occasions where my long runs took an extra long time and I arrived juuuuust in time!

I was only running four days a week, but it was obvious I needed to follow training plans that were flexible and allowed me to move things around when required.

Being away for 4 or 4 1/2 hours is a long time, especially on a weekend when you have obligations at home; for that, and I am eternally grateful that my wife supports my running. I sometimes forget how much of an impact running has on my family, so I consider myself very fortunate that my wife is so patient and understanding when it comes to training.

Finding Even More Time

I followed the same training plan for my second marathon last October, but realized I wasn’t running enough to reach my goal of a BQ. When I started to build a training plan for my first BQ attempt at the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon on May 1st, 2016, I had to find the time to add a 5th day of running into an already busy week. As you can see from the plan below, I only missed four days in the 16-week training plan (the big X), but I did have to adjust quite a few runs. My weekly “mileage” was all over the map and rarely consistent, but I was giving myself the best chance to hit my goal.

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In a few weeks I’ll be participating in the 2016 New York City Marathon. At the conclusion of the race, I will be taking off for two months! I’ll still run, but significantly less than I do now.

I also now a lot of people who run early in the morning and I know I will likely receive a number of comments from people suggesting I do the same. In time, I may start moving my weekday runs to the morning, but I am not ready to make that adjustment;. I also need to get up extra early to walk our dogs first!

QOTD: How do you find the time to run when you train for a marathon?

Thanks for reading!

Next week, I’ll be discussing preventing injuries and taking care of your body.

 

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8 thoughts on “Finding The Time to Train

  1. I give so much credit to people like you who train for marathons and have families and partners at home. I try not to forget that when I come home and while I do have responsibilities, there is no one else I’m “responsible to.”

    A great reminder too how important a support system is! When I was on vacation with my family this past August, I was so grateful for how supportive they were of my long runs and being away for a few hours.

    This marathon training cycle has been a really great lesson in I can’t do it all. I’ve had to choose running over other things many times. For me, early morning workouts have always worked best but I think whenever you have time, is probably the best time to workout!

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    1. Hey Danielle! Yeah, it can be quite challenging and definitely makes things easier when you have a good support system! I think I just need to suck it up and run in the morning. I’ll start in the Spring. LOL

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  2. I don’t train for a marathon but my explanation everytime I go out is that I’m building health capital which means extended (healthy) years together, and for the family. It’s hard for the wife to go against the argument 🙂

    For tempo runs and speed workouts, sometimes I also arrange to run towards the grocery store or the market while she takes the metro/bus. It becomes fun to try to outpace the bus.

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