Training & Time Management


Experience From - Martha Holden , Dina , Gary Bruner ,

Martha Holden

Previously I wrote:

I could really use some ideas on how to get running back into my schedule.

I've been distance running since 1995 (12 marathons) and ran JFK 50 in '97 and '98, but this past year could only manage to get outfor a run once a week (enough to manage a 4:22 marathon this fall...a personal worst).

Here are the factors:
A daughter in 2nd grade who has homework and also needs to stay on a schedule (great kid) - A promotion at work necessitating 40+ most weeks.- Taking graduate classes at a local college (4 more to go)- A daily schedule that has us leaving the house at 7:15 am and gettinghome around 6 p.m.

There are some plusses:- A fiance who is willing to watch my daughter while I run, but heworks late most nights- A manager who has given me informal permission to leave 1/2 hourearly 1 day/week to run- Lot of great running buddies for long runs

How do those of you with kids; jobs manage to get in the long runs anda couple of runs/week? It was much easier when my daughter was younger!

Thanks for any advice and suggestions.

Thanks to everyone who replied with suggestions on how to have a family...and still find time to run. It's nice to know I'm not the only one struggling with this (for some reason, no one in my running group is facing the same challenges I currently am--their kids are either much younger, older or non-existent--we're a pretty diverse group).

Here's a summary of suggestions:

  1. Run during lunch hour
  2. Run/bike to/from work (take in clothes & leave them so you donít have to carry them)
  3. Get up early to run
  4. Donít get up early to run (getting enough sleep is more important)
  5. Go for quality runs over quantity Ė two quality runs a week can beenough
  6. Have your child ride his/her bike while you run
  7. Cross-train in other sports with older children
  8. Run long (24+)every other week
  9. Run at a safe track where your child can play while you run
  10. Donít watch tv (time-waster)
  11. Remember that a lot can be accomplished on relatively low mileage
  12. Ask spouse or S.O. to take kid(s) to school in the a.m. so you can have time to run
  13. Be flexible with training goalsóget in what miles you can, donít worry about hitting a certain number
  14. Be happy with the run youíre on and donít worry about how youíre going to manage the next one
  15. Try a 30-hour day instead of 24
  16. Wait Ďtil kids are married :)
  17. Run long Saturday AND Sunday
  18. Join a 24-hour gym
  19. Remember that running gives us energy and makes us better parents and partners (if it doesnít, you may be running too much)
  20. Keep your priorities straight - Donít pass up time w/your kids to run
Thanks again. I'm looking forward to feeling like a real runner again...and being a less-stressed out mom. And kudos to those of you who are doing it all with more than 1 child!


I would like to add one more suggestion. Get some cross training equipment that you can use at home. That way you can be home with your daughter and train at the same time. My children are grown (now have three grandchildren), but at one point before joining a health club I had a treadmill, a stepper, a Nordic Track, a Nordic Flex (for weight training), free weights, leg weights, and an assortment of other gadgets, plus video tapes for stretching, yoga, and other aids. I hadn't planned in the beginning to start a home gym, but somehow over time it just accumulated.

None of it was exactly health club quality except for the Nordic Track, but it did keep me going during periods when I was injured, had a heavy work load, or during short days and inclement weather. I ran when I could during the week and concentrated on running long on the weekends. My husband also used some of the equipment, and didn't mind the clutter.

I now cross train at a health club, but my home gym made a huge difference at that time. A Precor Transport, for example, might be worth considering, as it doesn't take up much space, is quiet, and is very effective. At any rate, hang in there. I believe one reason women with children and other challenges do so well in ultras is that once they're really able to get out there, they are well seasoned in dealing with obstacles.

Gary Bruner

Here's one more take on the subject, illustrated with a personal example.

First off, at the risk of stating the obvious, you have to set your running scheme based on your goals. Just maintain fitness? Do you want speed? To extend your overall long-distance threshold? To complete a specific ultra event?

Let me use my 1998 as an example. I wanted to run the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100-miler. Didn't care about time, just wanted to finish. I also wanted to keep the peace at home by keeping my training as invisible to the family (wife & 2 early teens) as possible. This meant low mileage, and running at creative or even odd times & places (early, early morning; late evening; getting dropped off by my carpool for a run part way home or to work).

So, to prepare I decided that my minimum run would be 10 miles. With only a couple exceptions, whenever I laced up the running shoes I'd cover 10 miles or not go out. For the 6 months prior to MMT, I did these 10-mile minimum weekday runs before work from 5:00 to 6:30 AM, generally twice a week. Family didn't know, didn't care. On the weekends my distance alternated between "short" and "long" weekend runs: 10 on the "short" weekend and 25 on the "long" weekend. To maintain my cloak of invisibility I also did the weekend runs early so I wouldn't shoot half a day.

To get my distance threshold up, I threw in an ultra-distance run every other month (38, 40, and 50). Now, these runs were in fact done during "prime time"--couldn't make them invisible. In 1998, the year I completed MMT, my annual totals were: 1190 miles--107 runs--11.1 miles avg per run. My numbers were real similar for 96 and 97.

I guess I'm trying to make several points: