There's no doubt that preparing for a marathon is a serious time commitment. With earlier bedtimes and double digit mileage, your social life will take a bit of a hit, but training doesn't have to completely monopolize your schedule.
Follow these recommendations to strike that elusive run-life balance.
Limit training.1 of 11
Once the marathon bug bites, it can be tempting to sign up for 26.2 every chance you get, but there are benefits to limiting yourself to one marathon per year. When your marathon training cycle is just 16 (or 20) weeks long, it's easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Training for a very specific amount of time takes the sting out of sacrifices like early wake-ups and healthier meals. Remind yourself (and others) that things will be more flexible post-race!
Consider the season.2 of 11
Think about when you'll be doing the bulk of your workouts and long runs. For example, if you have tons of summer travel planned and little ones at home from school, training for a fall marathon might be challenging. Perhaps a spring marathon will be right up your alley instead.
Ask for support.3 of 11
No one likes a runner who drones on endlessly about their training, but it can be beneficial to keep friends and family updated on your progress. If you have a big workout or long run coming up, give everyone a heads up and ask for their understanding and encouragement.
Take a break from non-running exercise.4 of 11
There's always a place for cross-training and strength work, but try to limit these activities during peak weeks. Passing on early morning boot camp classes and long walks will free up more time (and energy!) for race-specific training.
Find running buddies.5 of 11
A great way to combine social time and mileage is to team up with a group of like-minded runners. Check in with local running stores, gyms and charity organizations for people who are training for the same race. Having company for a long run will make the hours fly by and maybe even score you some new friends.
Multitask.6 of 11
Consider running to or from the office a few days out of the week, logging laps around the soccer field while your kid practices, or scheduling running "phone dates" with friends and family. If you're creative, there are plenty of ways you can make the most of your training time.
Think quality over quantity.7 of 11
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, eliminate the junk miles. Increased volume and marathon training go hand-in-hand, but each run should still have a purpose. You might be better served logging four quality runs each week versus an hour (or more) every single day.
Avoid the all or nothing trap.8 of 11
Some days the snooze button (or happy hour) will win and you won't have time for your planned workout. Try to avoid being a slave to your training plan. Sometimes a few miles or a modified workout is better than nothing.
Consider an alternative to the 7-day training week.9 of 11
If you're struggling to fit key workouts into your schedule, a 10-day or 14-day training "week" might give you more flexibility. Rather than rigidly trying to fit in a double-digit run every Sunday, aim to fit in a long run over the course of 10 days.
Shower less.10 of 11
You don't want to be known as the smelly friend, but if showering (and drying your hair, getting dressed, applying makeup, et al) takes up a significant amount of your time, try to run in the morning, so you only have to shower once a day. Marathon training is a great time to simplify your routine. If you use a baby wipe and dry shampoo, we won't tell!
Marathons are important, but at the end of the day, your training should fit into your life--not the other way around!