Although probably eclipsed by the more obvious physical challenge of running a marathon itself, the time it takes to adequately prepare for one is not to be overlooked.
What do I mean by time? Firstly,’ lead time.’ Have you given yourself enough weeks prior to the event to get your training in? There will of course be people who get this wrong, but in the main, provided you allow a good six months prep time, most should probably manage. Much harder to gauge when you sign up however is ‘training time.’ Preparing adequately for your marathon could eat into six hours or more of your precious free time each week and with each passing month, the training duration is only likely to grow.
So below are a few tips and hints I have put to good use over the years to make sure I am not constantly fighting a losing battle against the clock. None of them are exactly groundbreaking or unique, but all I hope relevant and hopefully useful:
- Burning the candle at both ends – Unless you are a single parent, there are always two times a day when you can sneak out of the house for a run – first thing in the morning at ‘silly o’clock’ or late evening whilst everyone else is gawping at the telly box or asleep. You may not want to, but you signed up for the thing, so get your shoes on and hit the asphalt.
- Dead time is training time – If it is logistically possible, run to or from work at least once a week. The chances are, if you live in a city, your commute is probably quicker that way anyway. If not, get dropped off halfway home and complete the rest of your journey on foot a time or two, whatever works for you. The maxim is simple enough. Time spent getting from A to B could be achieved with your running gear on instead of behind the wheel.
- Lunchtime Lounger – The holy grail of an hour’s lunch break is the preserve of the few and far between these days but if you have one, use it wisely. Try to squeeze in a gym session or a fast paced run, whatever suits.
- Dogged determination – Why are you wasting 40 minutes walking your mutt each day? Provided he or she is robust enough for the challenge, train them up and take them running instead. Regular ‘stareofthedog’ readers will know that my own mutt is now well versed in the ways of the jogger.
- Sleeping like a baby – Whether you are watching your sleeping baby or watching the stove, being trapped in the home needn’t hinder your training regime. If you are lucky enough to own or can afford a cross trainer, rowing machine or exercise bike, shove it in the lounge and hop on. If not, do some weight training instead or turn your garden into a makeshift circuit training area if large enough. If prisoners can stay fit, you can.
- Set your alarm – An obvious variant of ‘burning the candle at both ends’ but subtly different. No matter how busy your days are, by getting up an hour earlier, you get a 10km run in. Set it two hours earlier…..you do the math. True enough, early starts are grim in the winter, but come the summer, they can be almost bearable.
- Break the cycle – Another variant, this time on number 2. It may be that jogging to work doesn’t work, but cycling might do and is faster anyway. So break the ‘car’ cycle and get on your bike, it’s just as good for your cardiovascular and is better for your pocket and the environment.