To be honest, it isn’t easy. Training for a marathon means you’re not going to have the same social life that you once did. Getting 5 to 6 workouts in a week, having a day job/school, and still finding time for your friends takes effort. You’re not going to be able to say yes to every impromptu happy hour, weekend getaway, or weeknight concert if you want to train well and have a good race day.
Maybe it’s harder in New York, but it seems like there’s always something going on, so I have to really plan out every night of the week to ensure that I maintain a healthy balance. The good thing is, I love to plan; The act of writing down my plan for the week and knowing exactly what’s to come gives me a sense of satisfaction.
This is a typical week for me:
[Monday] easy run and dinner at home; [Tuesday] early morning strength workout and dinner with friends; [Wednesday] rest day and dinner at home; [Thursday] cross training and dinner at home; [Friday] easy run and a night out with friends; [Saturday] rest day and dinner out or at home; [Sunday] long run and dinner at home. As you can see, I go out a couple days a week and spend the other nights resting at home. I don’t have a crazy social life, but I do go out enough that I need to map it out (or at least I feel more comfortable when I do).
All the training and planning can feel a bit overwhelming, so here are a few pointers that have helped me sustain my sanity.
Don’t be afraid to say no.
We all get FOMO at times, but don’t feel bad about staying in if you feel saying yes will hinder your ability to get your workout in. On the flip side, say yes whenever you can. If you know you can get up a little later the next day, or can fit your workout in after work/class, then go out and have fun!
Remember why you’re doing this.
Remind yourself why you’re doing all those early morning runs, long runs, and core workouts. It may be selfish, but the reason I train is for me. I do it to make me better, to push myself, and to ultimately learn something. I grow more when I’m doing more. Marathon training is one way for me to do more (Casey Neistat™).
Train with gratitude.
Gratitude can help with many different things in life, but it can be especially helpful when you start questioning why you’re putting your body (and mind) through so much pain. Be grateful that you have the health and the strength to train. Be grateful that you have the financial means to sign up for races, to buy running clothes and shoes, and to pay for a new running watch.
Be grateful for all the sunrises, quiet streets, fellow runners, smells, and undiscovered paths you come across on your runs. Be grateful for those precious moments you have with friends and family when you’re not training. Be grateful for the new friendships you will make during training.
Training will make you appreciate your social life that much more. If you’ve ever invested a serious amount of time in anything (playing an instrument, writing, competing in a sport, etc.), you know how this feels. All the times you had to say “Sorry, I can’t, I have practice” made you question your commitment, but when you actually could join your friends, it always felt so much more special and meaningful. Training for a marathon is very similar.
The bottom line of how to balance training for a marathon and maintaining a social life is to be appreciative and live in the present moment. Do your best to appreciate when you are training and appreciate when you are not training. And be happy that you now have an excuse to stay home and eat instead of going out and being social. Just kidding. Sort of.