How to Run 13.1 Miles: Find Time to Train

Is it possible to fit in time at the gym when you've got a million other things to do?

by Jennifer Braunschweiger • Deputy Editor
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With a demanding full-time job and a young kid and a husband who also has a high-pressure job, I’m as busy as the next person. Sometimes I can’t quite believe I manage to get the bills paid on time—never mind make it to the gym.

Obviously, I’m not alone in struggling to fit it all in. No one has time to exercise! Throw in the rigors of training and it’s a miracle any of us make it to the finish line without a stretcher.

I have a bunch of strategies I use to make sure I run, but what they all boil down to is this: Exercise is one of my top priorities. I exercise before I do almost anything else. That has repercussions. The hour I spend running on Saturday morning is an hour I don’t spend cuddling with my warm, sleepy son. The hour I spend running on Sunday puts that much more pressure on the hour I also need to spend preparing my lunches for the week—which often happens right around the time my husband is trying to cook dinner.

And that’s just the weekend.

I find it much harder to fit in exercise during the week—particularly the amount of exercise necessary to train well for a long race. Last year, I was good about my long runs on the weekend and not so good about the repetitive shorter runs during the week. Those shorter weekly runs are the time to work on speed and hill drills. And at race time, I wasn’t as strong on the hills or as fast overall as I would have liked to be. I suffered for the gaps in my training. I vowed that this time I would work extra hard during the week.

Famous last words.

Already, I am falling behind on the speed and hill drills. I don’t have any trouble getting to the gym, but I do have a hard time staying there for the 50 minutes I need to fit in a full workout. Happily, I had a brainstorm about how to fix it.

I am going to run home!

I know, crazy, right? But here’s what I figure. It’s 7.25 miles from my office to my house. If I take the subway two stops, I can cut the route down to five miles. I normally spend 45 minutes commuting, so the short subway hop plus five miles shouldn’t take me more than an hour. So, for a mere 15 minutes more than I would normally spend, I can squeeze in a five-mile weekday run.

The hills are built in, but I’ll have to force myself to sprint for a couple of blocks to get in the speed work. Bonus thought: I’ll be free of an unpleasant subway commute. Now, I’m convinced that running home is the answer to all my problems.

Of course, I haven’t tried it yet.

It is winter in New York after all, and it gets dark by 5:30 pm. My run will include going over the Brooklyn Bridge, and I’m not sure how that will play when it’s dark and freezing cold. But in another couple of weeks, it will be lighter and warmer, and I’ll be further along in the training. I can’t wait to see how it goes.

Have you ever tried a running commute? What did you think? Post your thoughts below.

Read Jennifer's Training Week 1: Handling a Setback

Read Jennifer's Training Week 2: The Pros & Cons of a GPS Watch

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First Published February 29, 2012

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