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How to Fit Marathon Training in to you Life

Sep 21, 2013 | Running | 10 comments

Something that I’m sure puts a lot of people off running a marathon is having the time to fit in training. With 4-5 runs a week, and distances of up to 20 miles, it does take up a fair amount of time. Here are my tips for fitting it all in, whilst maintaining a bit of a life.

Get Up Early 
I work 5-6 days a week, and often, when I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is go for a run. Additionally, sometimes I have to work late, meaning that I may miss an evening workout altogether. For me, getting most of my runs/workouts done before the working day begins is a great way to fit them in, plus I feel great all day, smug in the knowledge that my workout is done!

For this weekend’s long run I had 18 miles on my schedule. I’ve got a really busy weekend, with a work trip and 60th birthday, plus a friend’s b’day last night. I knew that to fit it in I could either get up really early on Saturday morning and run before the 60th, or I could get up and run before work on Friday, and fully enjoy my Friday night without thoughts of the long run looming over me.

I woke up at 5, had a cup of tea and some PB on english muffin, and set off for my run at 6. For me this was the most annoying bit about the whole run, having to let my breakfast digest! As it was still dark outside I started my run on the well lit roads, before making my way on to the Thames Path when the sun came out. It was so nice to have it nearly all to myself, if not a little scary!

Mentally I broke my run into three 10Ks. The first 10K was running away from London- from Chiswick to Richmond and beyond. Once I hit that first 6 miles I stopped and took a GU- which I actually love. I really like all the chocolate flavours, and don’t mind the slightly odd texture at all!

The next 10K would take me up to Hammersmith, where I took another GU and stretching, if I needed to. I actually don’t think I fueled enough during this run, as my stomach was growling with hunger by the end of it. Fuelling is definitely something that I still need to work on.

The final 10K would take me from Hammersmith to Piccadilly and to my office! 18 miles done before 9.15 am, and just enough time to shower at the office and eat an enormous second breakfast of granola, strawberries and Greek yogurt!

Squeeze a Workout in When You Can 

Whether this is just a 20-25 minute treadmill run, done on your lunch break or before meeting friends after work. If I have a spare half hour that I can get to the gym in, and I haven’t already completed my run for the day, then I’ll do what I can in the time I have. On Thursday morning I woke up later than planned and couldn’t fit in my usual morning run, however when I got to the tube station near work, I realised I still had 40 mins before I actually had to be at work. I nipped into the gym (luckily I walk past the gym on my way to the office!) and did a quick 30 mins on the treadmill, including some sprints and hills whilst watching breakfast television. I always have a change of gym clothes under my desk, just in case I can get an unscheduled run in!

Schedule Long Runs with Races

I love taking part in races- from 5Ks to half marathons (and marathons), but it’s not realistic for me to be able to fit in a race on one day of the weekend, and a long run on another day. So when I do have a race, I’m incorporating it into my long run. A few weeks ago I ran the 9 miles from my house to Finsbury Park to take part in the Women’s Running 10K! 15 miles- done! In a few weeks I have 14 miles on the schedule, and have signed up to run the Wholefood’s Market Richmond Park run, which is 9 miles (15K), so I’ll just run the 5 extra miles before the race.

Rope Your Friends In

Whilst marathon training, I don’t get to see my friends as often as I’d like- with a few early nights, early mornings, and after work training sessions. So when I can convince a friend to join me for a run, class or even post-run coffee, all the better. I get my workout done and get to catch up with a friend. I’m excited that more of my friends are getting into running and trying out different fitness classes. In two weeks both my flatmate, Amanda, and one of my best friends, Loz, are running Royal Parks Half with me! Oh and we’ve got a huge brunch with a group of friends planned for afterwards.

Run Somewhere… 

Obviously unless you’re running on a treadmill, you will be running somewhere, but why not make your run the journey somewhere that you need to go. Run to work, run home from work, run to the supermarket, run to meet friends for brunch (if they don’t mind that you’re a little sweaty!). From my office to my house is exactly 6 miles, perfect for a weekday longer run, and it kills two birds with one stone! I would spend close to an hour on the tube on the way home, so why not spend that time running? I often leave clothes at the office if I know I’m going to run to work, or leave my handbag at home and only bring home the essentials (phone, keys, bankcard, oyster card) to save me having to carry a rucksack.

Running past Harrods on the way home

How do you fit training into your life? Any tips to ensure that it doesn’t take over?


  1. Katie@BrandedRunner

    I am not great at getting up in the mornings so I’m not sure I’ll ever manage to get up at 5 for a long run! However I love run-commuting home- depending on the route I take it is between 6 and 7 miles home and I find that it is a good way to switch off from the day. I’m building up to a marathon in the Spring (after 2 halves including the Royal Parks this Autumn) and I’m worried about not seeing my friends as much- I think it will be tough to stay disciplined and I hope that they accept that me going for a run does count as me being busy!


    • Charlie

      I’m sure they will, plus you can meet them for food/drinks after your runs. Run commuting is such a great way of getting a longer run in during the week!

  2. anniegetyourrun

    My #1 tip is to get up early, too! It takes some getting used to, but it’s worth it at 5pm when the last thing I want to do is go running. I also cut back on going to happy hour. It saves me money and energy so I’m more likely to want to get up early. Good luck with training! You’re doing great!!!

    • Charlie

      Thanks so much! Cutting back on evening drinks is a great bonus- makes your body and wallet feel better!


    Great tips. I prefer getting my run in early in the morning too, then I know that in the evening I can just chill and know I’m done for the day. However sometimes I do feel I run better later in the afternoon, maybe because I have a bit more energy from eating? I’m running the Royal Parks half in a couple of weeks too, really looking forward to it!

    • Charlie

      Amazing, come and say hi if you see me, I’ll be in bright pink!!

  4. Tess @ FitBits

    Great post Charlie – I’m glad you’ve shared some tips as this Autumn/Winter will be my first season of marathon training for the Spring so lots of work to do! My top tip would be to get up early and get the morning workout done (I wrote a post with my other tips here –> I’ve been really slack with getting up for the morning sessions though recently so need to get back on it!

    Good luck with the rest of your training, you’re smashing it! x

    • Charlie

      Thanks for sharing Tess! x

  5. mia79gbr

    Great tips! Love how you fit in 18 miles BEFORE work!! Wow … but I’m coming round to the idea especially when I read the section about a 2nd breakfast ….!!

    • Charlie

      second breakfasts are the way forward, great treat after running long! Also looking forward to Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced lattes as a post workout treat- bring on October!


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