My Life is Busy and Hectic. Should I Train For A Marathon?

Full disclosure: I have NEVER been asked this.

It's probably because people know the answer and don't want to hear it. They want to have their cake and to eat it, too.

New job, planning a wedding, taking night classes?

Yeah sure, plenty of time and energy leftover to train for a marathon!

Then there's a few other things like maintaining solid relationships with loved ones and the rest of your social circles, eating properly (which definitely takes time & prep), and getting enough sleep. And don't forget about taking care of the dog!

Good ol' Type-A, can-do attitude.

Our sport definitely attracts these types, that's for sure. With the inherent premium placed on being regimented, the tangible reward of fitness and mood enhancement, not to mention the bragging rights, Type A's often thrive on the running lifestyle.

But where do you draw the line?

There's probably no black and white response to this question as everyone is different and circumstances may be unique, but I've found most people, deep down, know the answer for themselves.

In college we learned that you can excel at two of the following three categories:

  • Academics
  • Athletics
  • Social Life

I'm sure you can see why. Academics should be prioritized, leaving one to choose between athletic success or a robust social calendar. With scholarships on the line, no wonder most athletes' social circles are comprised of other athletes!

As adults, we have even more responsibilities, but it can usually be boiled down to:

  • Family
  • Work
  • Training/Hobbies

Of course, there can also be other intensive things going on:

  • Taking classes
  • Planning an event
  • Travel

So let me ask you, how many burners on your stove have the “power burner” option? Usually like, one, right? That's how it goes in life, too, in my experience.

You CAN be great at all three. But not at the same time. And let's be honest, unless you're getting paid to run, training is a hobby and probably should be prioritized AFTER family and work. (I know, painful admission right there!)

So, if you want to legitimately prepare for a marathon, what sort of compromises are you willing to make?

For starters, you absolutely MUST have your significant other on board and enrolled. Ain't nothin' happening otherwise! (come on, you know that :-))

But really, if you are “all-in” at work and taking on something else significant like planning a big event, taking classes, or developing a insatiable appetite for quilt knitting, it may be best to scale back to short distance training, or even maintenance training.

KEY POINT: There is nothing wrong or inferior with that!

Hey, it could be an opportunity to work on your strength and speed (you know it needs work anyway) and get better at the 5K. Bring that faster athlete to the marathon and you'll be so much better for it.

The marathon will ALWAYS be there when it makes sense for you to tackle the training. And here's the bottom line: YOU'LL ENJOY IT MORE.

Action Steps

Thinking about training for a marathon? Ask yourself these four questions.

Realistically, can I make time to properly prepare for this marathon? Not only is there the actual running bit (likely 5-8 hours minimum per week), but also the time required pre- and post-run, not to mention strength training and sleep/recovery to consider.

Is my social circle supportive of this endeavor? If you're hanging with non-athletes, it's TOUGH to be the lone wolf. Also, you really don't want your spouse resenting the fact that you have to get to bed early on the weekends so that you can get up early to train. Trust me!

How many burners do I have set to HIGH right now? How about the forecast for the next 6 months? Don't be stuck in denial about this! You can crush it with TWO set to high, go for 3 and you'll probably be miserable and prone to injury and burnout.

Am I dealing with recurring injuries or do I tend to get hurt when I raise mileage? If this sounds like you, get assessed and work these issues out NOW, versus collapsing in a heap of pain 16 miles into your long run 6 weeks out from the race.

I'd love to hear from you – have you ever pulled out of marathon training because things were just too hectic? Was it a tough decision to make? What emotions were you wrestling with?