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find time to runThere is a commodity that none of us ever have enough of.  Time. We are short on time, there’s not enough time, and sometimes time is even wasted.  Constraints on that time is one of the biggest obstacles to a marathon training run. When your boss is pushing you to finish by the deadline, the kids need to be shuttled to their various activities and the house is a complete mess, it’s easy to view your run as lower on the totem pole.  But when you consider that your goals and needs are for your mental sanity and physical health, it should be more of a priority.

I totally get it.  I have a family, a job and other constraints on my time.  I have skipped many training runs because I got “the look” from my sweet wife.  You shouldn’t have to tear apart relationships or neglect your duties at home or work to get in that 6 mile training run.  Fortunately for you, running happens to be one of the easiest activities to squeeze in even when time is short.  It doesn’t require a gym or a ton of equipment — just a good pair of running shoes, some shorts and an iPod with a killer Huey Lewis playlist. The key to fitting marathon training into your busy life is to remove those obstacles that stand in the way. By employing simple time-management strategies and removing logistical obstacles, you will find that even the busiest runner can find time for a workout.  Here’s a few tips to help in your efforts.

1. Plan to Succeed

Marathon training requires a long term time commitment.  The very act of planning a run ahead of time puts you on track to actually complete the workout.  It has something to do with synapses in your brain or something like that. Research has shown that people are 42% more likely to accomplish a goal simply by writing it down.  So if you planwrite down your goals ahead and write down your goal to run at 6 AM, you have a greater likelihood that your accomplish that goal.  Take a few minutes once a week and look at your schedule to see when you’ll actually have time to run. By scheduling a run, actually typing it into your calendar the same way you would a work meeting or dentist’s appointment, you’ll be less likely to allow other obligations to get in your way.

2. Quality over Quantity

When it comes to fitting your marathon training into a busy schedule there’s no such thing as a crappy run. Something is always better than nothing. If you do find yourself short on time, try increasing the intensity to get more bang for your buck. Research has found benefits related to exercise performance when comparing high intensity interval training (HIIT) like sprints to traditional endurance workouts. Simply put, when you increase the intensity of some of your training runs, you can actually build fitness in less time.

3. Be Prepared

Let me paint a picture for you.  You have been slammed all day with meetings, phone calls and appointments. There’s a little voice in your head that keeps reminding you that you should have done your training run this morning instead of sleeping in. Now you find that you have an unexpected hour of downtime when an appointment cancelled only to realize you don’t have your running shoes.  A missed opportunity right?  If this is something that happens a lot then you should always be prepared by packing your running shoes and shorts, just in case.  If you have a job that requires a more formal gym bag with running shoesattire, make sure your have running bag ready in your trunk or hide one under your desk at work. This may require you to have a separate pair of running shoes and running clothes at work and home so you don’t ever find yourself without them when you’re ready for a run.  Always be prepared.

4. Social-ness

The things that we always put off because of other obligations are exercise and social engagements.  What if you could combine them. Instead of talking to friends about meeting up for dinner, suggest a run instead.  I have a friend that I really enjoy talking to, he’s very smart and interesting and we always have great convo.  I asked him if he’d like to train for a 15-K with me and he accepted the challenge. The best part was that we could spend more time chatting while we trained for the race.  It’s a great way to nurture relationships while training for a marathon. It also makes those long runs much more pleasant.  There’s an extension to the statistic above about writing down goals that if you share your goal with someone you are 78% more likely to be successful.  With social running, there is also some built in accountability when you have a training partner which makes it much more likely that you’ll follow through with your plan and get out and run.

5. Bring on the Kids

Parents with young children are one of the groups who struggle the most finding time to run.  Believe me I know what it’s like, I have 3 young kids.  I’ve found that sometimes it is easier to bring your kids along for the ride when trying to squeeze in a training run. A jogging stroller is a great way to involve the little kids on a quick run.  I’ve taken my kids to the park to play while I ran laps around the perimeter.  I could keep an eye on them and they could still be outside and play.  Another benefit is that you will be an example of healthy behavior to your kids. So while it may take more effort to involve your kids in your training runs, you can rest assured you’re doing something beneficial for everyone involved.

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