How to Train for a Marathon (and Not Fall Asleep at Your Desk)

woman sleeping

When you sign up for a marathon, you probably expect to be more tired than usual. If it were easy, everyone would do it, right? But even with the right expectations, you might struggle to keep it together during your peak training weeks. If you're looking for advice on how to make marathon training a bit less exhausting, you've come to the right place.

Run Commute

Not a fan of waking up extra early or running shortly before bed? Running to or from work might be a great time saver. If you live between 3 and 10 miles from work and have access to a safe route, consider skipping the car or public transportation a few times a week and commute by foot. Live farther away? Consider commuting part of the way and taking the train, bus or a shared ride service for the remaining miles. If you'll be running to work, plan to carry essentials in a small pack and scout a location for a shower (or at least a place to wipe off and change). To streamline the process, stash your work clothes and shower products at your office (or gym locker) the day before. Bonus: Many run commuters are able to sleep in a bit later than if they were going to exercise, shower and then commute to work.

Lunch Miles

Can't swing a run commute? Instead of waking up at dawn, squeeze in a few midday miles and then eat lunch at your desk. A bit of exercise can be just the thing to help you avoid the afternoon slump.

Lower Your Mileage

Sounds simple, right? If you find yourself exhausted by the demands of training and...everything else, consider cutting back a bit. Many marathoners find they need at least three to four days of running to get in shape for race day. So, if you usually run five to six days a week, try replacing an easy run with an extra rest day (or some cross training). Especially if means you'll get more sleep!

Identify Key Workouts or Training Weeks and Prioritize Them

If you have a serious time goal in mind, lowering your mileage might not be an option. Instead, you can figure out when your toughest workouts and training weeks will be and cut back on everything else. For example, if Thursday mornings are your tempo run days, say no to any non-essential activities the night before. And if you have a heavy training week coming up, postpone any non-essential activities (e.g. leaf raking, heavy duty housework, happy hour).

Meal Prep Shortcuts

Fueling properly will go a long way in keeping your energy levels steady. If time is tight, consider streamlining your shopping and cooking. Many companies offer healthy food deliveries that require little to no work on your part (daily harvest, for example). When it comes to the grocery store, give yourself permission to take a few shortcuts—pre-chopped veggies or a rotisserie chicken can save a lot of time.

Power Nap

If all else fails and you find yourself nodding off at your desk, consider a power nap. If you work from home (or have an office door that locks), drink a cup of coffee and then close your eyes for a bit. But cap the nap at 20 to 30 minutes—longer than that and you'll wake up groggy. By the time your alarm goes off, the coffee will have had a chance to hit your system, and you'll be able to power through the afternoon.

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