Ultrarunning: Finding the Time to Train

October 24, 2011

This article is part of Endurance Planet’s ultrarunning article series. If you have questions, comments or feedback about “Finding the Time to Train”, please leave it below in the comments section…

Browsing through the web, you will find no lack of suggested training schedules and programs for practically every type of marathon from the half to the 100 miler. This wealth of resources and tools is certainly a great boon for all lovers of the sport of running. Unfortunately not all runners are full-time dedicated athletes who spend almost every waking moment of their time preparing for the targeted event.

If you take a second look at those training schedules, you’ll see that most of them require daily sessions. Some runners can accommodate this demand while the majority, those who get classified (sometimes unfairly) under the ‘enthusiast’ category, is probably too busy with other aspects of their lives to realize the schedule. Family, friends, work – training can definitely affect all these. And the time management balancing act you’ll need to do may only get more difficult for ultramarathons as this kind of distance running naturally entails more preparation.

Goals setting

Setting up a time management scheme for your training begins with determining what you want to achieve in the ultramarathon you’re aiming for. Do you simply want to survive and finish the race, set a new personal record, or be part of the front pack? In figuring out how much and how intense you should train to meet whatever goal you’ve set, don’t forget to include the other people in your life. This could be your spouse, significant other, your children, or even your boss. You and they have to work out a schedule that has the least adjustment and compromise for both parties.

Quality over volume

High and low mileage runners alike of course need to put a premium on quality sessions. Between the two however, it is the latter who can’t afford to waste time on junk miles. If you happen to be already juggling family and career, you’ll likely have a difficult time logging in the number of miles you often hear more experienced ultrarunners rack up on a weekly basis. Make sure every session counts by being clear about what you want to achieve in each and strictly adhering to the objective. Be conscious of your form, pacing, and all the other details involved. Include specificity in your training as much as possible. You might not have the extra time to accommodate excuses like “I’ll make up for it this weekend or next week.”

Alternative times and places

Early morning, late evening, and even lunch breaks are good enough times to squeeze in a training run. If your place of work happens to have adequate bathroom facilities you might try running to and from the office. Some mothers bring their children to enclosed or safe tracks so they can do their intervals while their kids play. Don’t forget about the options offered by cross training, 24-hour gyms, health clubs, and home exercise equipment. Treadmills can be used for long runs and can even to a certain degree simulate downhill training. If you’re committed enough to your ultramarathon goals, you’ll always find a way to run and train that fits with your lifestyle and situation.


Do you have questions about time management and training, or what you’ve read so far? Do you have any ultrarunning pointers of your own to add? Please leave your feedback, comments and questions below, and we promise we’ll respond.

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