As the days grow shorter and the holidays approach, athletes’ training windows become limited. Learn from these endurance athletes who manage to balance a successful life outside of sport with a busy training schedule.
GO WITH THE FLOW (WITHIN REASON)
When balancing work + running + play, each component holds a varying level of value in the full equation of life and happiness. Those levels often fluctuate, so allowing yourself to re-prioritize your focus on running versus work or play versus performance is key to successfully fulfilling your obligations while maintaining a healthy, sustainable approach to training. Allow yourself to adjust things as needed — for example, take a planned tempo run easy if your body/mind is drained from the work week.
But remember: Flexibility requires discipline. There’s a difference between adjusting and slacking off — the latter can easily become your routine if you don’t hold yourself accountable.
BE TIME EFFICIENT AND DETAIL-ORIENTED
Things can get hectic trying to balance work, running and everything else that comes with life, so planning ahead is key for me. I like to approach my runs the same way I approach a day at the office, by looking ahead. Things like laying out my running gear ahead of time, going over my route beforehand and mentally prepping myself for the workout make it easier so when I get home from work all I have to do is throw on my gear and go.
The majority of my runs come after a long day of work, so on the weekends I like to switch things up and run in the mornings. It’s easy to fall into repetition when it comes to running so making changes where I can, even if it’s the smallest detail, keeps things interesting for me.
— Rahsaan Rogers, Producer, “The Howard Stern Show,” and runner with Resident Runners, a NYC-based running crew
START YOUR DAY RIGHT
Developing a morning routine before you get to work is essential for productivity and success. Some people go to the gym, meditate and read before we get our work day started. For me, going to the gym gets my energy level up. Meditating helps me focus on my day and my priorities. Reading sharpens my mind.
To have a productive morning, all distractions must be eliminated. Distractions are easy to get into and hard to get away from. Set aside a time to check your email, phone and social media after all of your morning work is taken care of. This will lead to more productivity.
—Vid Lamonte’ Buggs Jr., endurance athlete, author, motivational speaker and founder/owner of both VLB/VBJ Enterprises, LLC and 4-U-Nique Publishing, LLC
Pay just a little more for a coach you have to check in with on a regular basis. You’ll have the thought of “Ugh, I shouldn’t have spent that money” and quickly following it you will say, “I’m going to make this worthwhile.” For me, the mental combination of not wanting to waste the money and knowing I’d have to report back to my coach weekly were effective motivators.
— Christine Diven, Ironman finisher, works 60-hour weeks at JPA Health Communications in Washington, D.C.
Time is a precious resource. If you skimp on sleep, performance suffers. If you fret about achieving enough, the stress zaps energy. Adopting a mindset of appreciating each moment improves your ability to love family and friends, care for others and compete as an endurance athlete. If you find yourself wishing you were someplace else rather than being attentive in the moment, a schedule adjustment is needed.
—Meghan Newcomer, private physician assistant at the Hospital for Special Surgery. She is currently training to compete in the 2018 World Marathon Challenge (seven marathons on seven continents in seven days).
DON’T LET OTHERS MONOPOLIZE YOUR TIME
If you want to become an endurance athlete while having a career and family, schedule a time that’s non-negotiable to train at least four days a week. Make sure you schedule it when you’re most productive and alert to maximize your performance.
—Kristin Marquet, endurance athlete for 20 years and founder and creative director of Creative Development Agency, LLC in New York, New York
PLAN YOUR WEEK
Prepare your schedule at the beginning of the week (preferably Sunday). Write down things that you don’t necessarily have to get done that week, and then cross them off your list. If you’re in training for an endurance event, make sure your training is five days on, two days off; your body needs to rest and recover. On those two days off, spend time with your family, friends and loved ones and catch up. Then start it all over again the following Sunday.
—Patricia Vaughn, marathoner, CEO and founder of upstart VaughnCastle
MAKE A DAILY LIST
Schedule your day and stick to it. I write down everything I need to do and how much time it will take. The key is to stick to it. Don’t just do what’s easiest, do what’s on your list. I even schedule in my lunch breaks and workouts.
—Katie Chung Hua, fitness professional and spokesmodel
USE TIME TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
I worked with my day job company to get a flexible schedule so I could train in the morning and pay myself first. For races, I keep packing lists so I don’t have to rethink what I’m going to pack every time. I’m also very conscious of where I spend my limited time on earth, so I spend it as much as possible on things I love. I keep a balance of action and rest that feels right and sustainable to me.
—Susan Donnelly, has run 240 ultra marathons (including a 200 miler), and is a full-time engineer who also runs a life-coaching company