With or without kids, marathon training is not for the faint of heart. In contrast with Ironman training, of course, it seems sort of like a blip, mainly because I’m not working out for a full day on the weekends. But Ironman training is pretty extreme. So, I want to share what marathon training looks like around our household (with two kids) when two parents are giving it a go at the same time.
Sidenote: We are in the process of goal setting for next year. M will run the Boston Marathon in April and I have plans to go long (marathon) again in the fall. I’m guessing he will too, though he hasn’t fessed up to it yet. But the good news is that we’ll get a little break from dual endurance training sessions in the spring before it picks up again in the fall.
This is because I’ve decided to take some time to regain my speed and get stronger after the NYC marathon. More on that later, but I’m pretty jazzed about changing it up.
Here’s what our weekends typically look like when training for a Fall Marathon.
In July, August and September, in the North East. temperatures are still pretty high so unless you’re a glutton for punishment (I am not), getting runs in as early as possible is recommended. Unfortunately, that’s hard to do when you’re a sleep-deprived parent, which means it doesn’t always work out that way for us.
But let’s start with our ideal weekend of training and go from there.
- Our preference has been staggered long runs. I take Saturday morning. Michael takes Sunday morning. I do my recovery run on Sunday and he does his on Monday. The downside is that it leaves us without a date night (haha, that’s sort of a joke – we average one date night every quarter), but seriously, sometimes it’s nice to just stay up late and order take-out. That’s hard to do when you’re alternating long runs and someone is up early for a big workout.
- The other option is to hire a sitter. To be honest, I’m such a cheap skate, DIYer that this option never really appealed to me, but we’ll do it in a pinch. It probably happened once or twice this season. If we lived near family, I’d absolutely recruit them for babysitting so Michael and I could run together. He’s faster than I am, but we could at least get in a few early miles together.
- The final option, which I’m advocating more for lately, is doing long runs on weekdays. If the weekends are packed with family activities or we predict not having the energy to fit in our long runs (often the case for me), we’ll push it to a weekday. Michael will sneak in 3 hours from 5am to 8am on a Friday. I’ve done a few Monday evening runs, either from 6 to 9pm or 7 to 10pm. At first, the idea didn’t really appeal to me, but so long as I’m mentally prepared, these runs have been some of my best.
When temperatures cool, usually in October, we’ll take turns running long on the same weekend day. This is also a good option if you’re not someone who needs to get your run out of the way first thing in the morning.
We’ve also managed to go away for a few weekends this fall without the kids (usually for weddings). When that happens, I basically feel like I’m 16 years old again and I just got my license. In between acting a fool on the dance floor and sleeping 10 hours a night, we’ll often run together. This past weekend, we went to Charleston for a wedding. It was so fun (photos below) and also pretty warm. The wedding was Friday night. By the time we woke up on Saturday, the temperature was already in the high 70s so we opted for a short run. We staggered our long runs on Sunday since we arrived back in NYC around noon and our runs are short this weekend (8-10 miles).
As much as long runs are the staple for marathon training and they anchor my week, it is really important to me to spend time with my family and just live life. This is why as much as I wish I could just schedule my run for 7am every single Saturday, it always seems to shift around.
If you’re a runner mama balancing all sorts of schedules, I’d love to hear how you manage it all because what we do is constantly evolving. And we always want to find a better way!