Marathon training can be time consuming in general, but the peak weeks can feel overwhelming as our mileage reaches a point that pushes most of us close to our limits. Besides the running alone we may also struggle to find the time to fit in our strength training/core work, foam rolling and other recovery activities, while trying to get enough sleep and eat well. Here are some tips to survive these weeks of training- and the good news is that the taper is right on the other side!
1. Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier
In order to be the most efficient during this time we can start our day out earlier. Even if you aren’t a morning runner you can get other things done during this extra time in the morning. However, we need to make sure we are getting enough sleep so go to bed earlier! I think most of us “waste” time at night by watching tv, browsing the internet, etc. Make the most of your day by getting enough hours of sleep but also eliminate the time you are awake that isn’t beneficial to your training and recovery.
2. Plan ahead
It can be really helpful to have a plan in place for each day or even the week. If you are getting up 30 minute earlier, how are you going to use that time effectively? Look at your training plan and prepare for the next day by setting out what you will wear, decide on your route, and make sure everything you need for your run is in plain sight.
3. Stick with a schedule during the peak weeks
I always find that when my schedule is consistent it saves me any questioning/worrying/stressing about what I need to do. it’s almost like you are on autopilot and things get done without as much thought beforehand.
4. Cut back on other things
For these few weeks in training, it may be important to consider cutting back on some other things that may not be beneficial to your training. We can’t do it all! One thing that comes to mind for me is blogging. This can take a lot of time and I sometimes need to cut back during weeks when my mileage is higher. By removing one thing out of our day it automatically creates extra time!
5. Stay organized during the peak weeks
I like to use Sundays to get myself organized for the week ahead. I plan my meals and prep what I can, look at my calendar and think about what I have going on during the upcoming week, do laundry, etc. It sets me up for success going into the new week!
6. Remind yourself why you do it
The peak weeks can be tiring and stressful. We need to keep in mind that we are doing this because we enjoy it (it is a choice, after all!) and it won’t last forever. We can survive a few weeks of extra early wake-ups and less time socializing for the sake of our races. The taper is right around the corner, and then we will have lots of time to recover after the race!
7. Take time to relax during the peak weeks
Yes, we need to push ourselves during this time but it’s also important to take some time to relax! This can be the time when we are the most at risk for burnout. Take some time to check in with yourself, have a glass of wine, take a bath, etc. You can even schedule this into your week so you have something to look forward to!
8. Take it one day at a time
Looking too far ahead can be overwhelming. Take it one day at a time. Training may feel like it will last forever but it will end up flying by before you know it!
You may also like:
Base Building for Runners: How To Go From Recovery to Training
Taper Tips To Get You Ready To Run a Strong Race
What To Do The Week Before Your Race
What are your tips for managing time during the peak weeks of training?
How do you make time to relax?
Is there anything you need to cut out when your mileage gets high?
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Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy says
My mileage never gets very high, but it can still feel overwhelming, especially having to be very diligent about prehab, foam rolling, etc.
When I’m really busy a to do list helps calm me down. I know I should do them all the time; oh well.
Michele @ paleorunningmomma says
I really need all this right now. I can’t wake up early enough to run 10 in the early morning! This is the last peak week for me, but still, all of marathon training takes time and requires planning. Definitely need to get to bed earlier tonight.
I’ve learned that sometimes a 4:30 am alarm has to happen….and today there wasn’t even time for blogging in the morning! But I just remind myself it’s only a few days a week, and before I know it the taper will be here.
Susie @ SuzLyfe says
If I went to bed any earlier/woke up any earlier, I might as well just go on night shift 😀
Yup, I agree. I never thought I would be voluntarily waking up in the 4am hour, and here I am doing it regularly.
Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen says
I have struggled with this during this training cycle! It really can be tough to manage it all. I am definitely a planner though and love to have lists and plan out my whole week 🙂
Planning and lists definitely help! And its a sense of accomplishment as things get checked off:)
MCM Mama Runs says
I let other things slide for a couple of weeks. We eat simpler meals and just go into survival mode. Then I clean up the resulting chaos during taper LOL.
Haha “survival mode” is the perfect way to describe it! Just get done things that are a priority and everything else can wait a few weeks:)
Alyssa @ Renaissancerunnergirl says
All great stuff, especially the bed/wakeup earlier. It just gives you SO MUCH more time in the day, or so it seems. When I first started going to november project before school, it amazed me that since I was home and showered and ready at 8am and didn’t have class until 10, I could get things done beforehand.
Exactly! And it’s perfect for people who are morning productive in the mornings- such a good time to get things done.
Laura @ This Runner's Recipes says
All of these are such useful tips! I definitely cook simpler meals during the peak weeks of training. Meal planning makes life so much easier, just like you said—and takes the thinking out of eating well when good nutrition is vital!
We can’t do it all and something has to give when we are running all the time!
I could probably answer these questions during all weeks of my training. In order to run, I have to cut out a lot of stuff. I don’t have much time to read and I never watch TV. Ever ever ever. I know that sounds extreme, but it’s just true. My life is so incredibly chalk full and running keeps me in check. I have to make a point of carving out time for myself each day and I know if I didn’t run (leave the house, sweat, run back home) then my “me” time would quickly get gobbled up by everyone else. So that’s what works for me!
That’s a really good point- sometimes we have to make running a priority not only for racing/training purposes but just for our sanity!
Jen B. says
I totally agree with taking it one day at a time. If I look at my training weeks ahead I start to feel overwhelmed. And always make room for a glass of wine!
Its much less overwhelming to take it one day at a time! And I think wine is necessary for relaxing especially during training:)
Angie @ Pace with Grace says
Great tips! I think its all about time management and that includes planned rest. I like to think ahead as well and plan how I will get my runs in along with the other important activities like strength training, stretching and foam rolling. I am known to get up extra early to get in a run so that I can have a total rest day. I think this has helped me stay injury free (so far!) and it also helps me mentally.
Glad that you have figured out some things that work for you! It can definitely be tough to fit it all in but planning can help alot.
There isn’t much on TV that I was at night, so I’ll turn it off and read a book in bed. That helps me relax and turn my attention to settling down for sleep.
Thats a great tip! I like to do the same thing…and I don’t really watch TV, but I do have to get myself off the computer or else I get sucked in.
During peak training weeks, I feel especially overwhelmed because I usually want to sleep more in addition to running more. To do this I really try to be focused while I’m working so that I can stop at a reasonable time and not feel guilty. I have a hard time forcing myself to relax because I’m always thinking about other things that I should be doing…it’s definitely something that I need to work on in order to achieve a well balanced life.
It can be such a challenge but it sounds like you are doing great! Keeping a schedule usually helps but its also important to allow yourself to relax…that part can definitely be a challenge when we are working hard towards a goal!
Great things to keep in mind. I love that you included “relax” on the list, which is something I think people are too quick to dismiss as unnecessary. Good luck with the next few weeks! Taper time will be here soon!
Its so true that we can forget to relax when we are training hard, but its such an important aspect of our training!
meredith @ Cookie ChRUNicles says
I am having the hardest time commenting today! I tried earlier, not sure if you got it, I don’t see it above. I don’t even remember what I said but I do know I agreed with every tip!
That’s weird! I didn’t get anything earlier today. I was having issues with reading/commenting this morning but also didn’t have time so I gave up on it pretty quickly:)
Annette @ Sweating Through Life says
I really need to start meal planning like everyone suggests. Not necessarily to save time, but really to eat healthier. It would make my life so much easier.
I couldn’t imagine NOT meal planning at this point because I do it every week! It just makes it so much easier to buy groceries and saves time during the week.
You are always so well organized – there’s so much advice here that I could really learn from. Usually during peak weeks, I take some of the extra social time out – including blogging. But I always need to fit in a few nights of relaxation with that glass of wine too so as not to go insane 😉
That is so important! We can get so caught up in training and forget to take a few minutes for ourselves!
Tara @ Running 'N' Reading says
These are great tips, Lisa!! I definitely try to get everything ready that I need the night before and come up with a plan for my upcoming training week on Sundays; it really helps clear my mind of worry. I don’t know what I would do without a training plan; it’s nice to know what’s ahead and do some prep work on weeks when I know I’m going to spend more time running, exercising, etc. Thanks so much for sharing these!
I don’t know what I would do without a training plan either! I love being able to know what I should be doing each day and I can plan everything else around that.
I definitely agree that prepping food, clothing, etc. are very helpful. I am working on scheduling more relaxing time. I did extra yoga this week and just lit a candle to relax last night. I am working on going to bed earlier. Made it a whole thirty minutes earlier last night and was surprised how much of a difference it made. These peak weeks are intense!
What race are you training for?? Sounds like you are doing a great job managing your time!
I TOTALLY needed to read your blog today. I’m mid cycle in my marathon training for Dallas and didn’t realize I needed perspective. I do!!! You helped SOOOOOO much!!! Thank you. ?
Glad you enjoyed it!:)
Lisa you’re so right: something’s gotta give during those super intense training weeks. Mine is typically housework. Priorities, right?
That’s a great idea- I think I will be quitting housework for the next few weeks:)
Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table says
You are in such a great mindset! That relaxation wine is a must too. 🙂
Definitely! It’s all about balance, right?:)
Training for my first marathon will be unlike any task I’ve tried before. Yes I know there will be long hours running, scheduling conflicts and all this comes at the peak of the holidays when my family is crazy busy and on the road. My mindset is to plan ahead as much as possible, but try and keep a balance between my training and spending time with my family! Hopefully, I can succeed!
Sounds like a good plan! I definitely think with that mindset that you will be able to do it!
Laura @ Mommy Run Fast says
I definitely need more sleep during peak weeks and have to cut out some extras- like keeping the house spotless. Blogging usually gets less attention too!
You are right about wasting time in the evening. It makes sense to simply go to bed earlier and wake up earlier!
When I’m pressed for time, I like making lists and checking off the items one by one. It helps to keep me focused and a sense of control.
Lisa @ Mile By Mile says
I love making lists too! They really help me to feel more organized!
Such good points Lisa – not just for planning better but also for getting oneself into a good head space needed to actually run the marathon. I waste too much time in the evenings – browsing the internet mostly, when I should just sleep. I think this would make intense weeks a lot easier for me.
Lisa @ Mile By Mile says
Its nice to have down time in the evening to relax, but I think most of us could cut that down a bit. Especially if its just for a few weeks of intense training!
Kimberly Hatting says
I’ve gotten in the habit of making lists while at work (in between my work tasks, that is LOL). I used recycled envelopes because they’re bulky enough to not get misplaced and they’re small enough that they don’t take up extra room on my desk. I’m always paranoid about forgetting things (usually the “obvious” things that I typically wouldn’t bother to write down), so I write EVERYTHING down as I think of it. Those peak weeks of training are tough, physically and mentally!
Lisa @ Mile By Mile says
I always have several lists going- a general list in the notes section on my phone and a separate work list. They help me feel organized!
Deborah Brooks says
while I have never trained for a full marathon, having a schedule for workouts and runs and sticking to it has always helped me. Meal planning is great when I do it. Helpful tips!
Lisa @ Mile By Mile says
I just wish meal prep didn’t take so long! I always plan my meals, but its been much harder to find the time to prep them lately.
All great tips! The one about going to bed and waking up earlier is especially good- most of us are probably wasting some time late at night that could be spent sleeping. I love staying up late reading- not that reading is a “waste” of time, but as you pointed out, we can’t do it all. This post is especially good because you’ve just lived through this- trained for and ran a marathon while working and caring for a toddler. So you know what you’re talking about!
Lisa @ Mile By Mile says
I like to read before bed too! But usually before I do that I waste time scrolling through my phone.
Cleaning, LOL! Seriously, though, it tends to be the first thing to go when I’m really busy — not necessarily with training, but with life.
Remembering your why is so important.
Lisa @ Mile By Mile says
Haha yes with cleaning being the first to go! I don’t think I cleaned my house more than like once or twice this summer.
It is just so hard! Especially with a little one!
You do an awesome job managing your training and home-work-life balance (or at least it seems like it), and I am so impressed with how much you accomplish!
Lisa @ Mile By Mile says
Thank you! It does feel like alot right now but I just keep trying to remind myself that soon enough he will be a little more self-sufficient.