6 Marathon Training Tips for Busy Professionals

It seems like we’re always having to make the choice between having a personal life and a professional life. Either you’re focusing on your career or you’re making time for family and hobbies. It leaves a lot of people wondering if there’s such a thing as a happy balance between it all. 

One of the things that always takes a backseat no matter what job you work is physical fitness. Let’s be honest—if we’re “too busy” we skip the gym. It’s easy because we tell ourselves it’s not a priority. There are more important things to do.


Here’s the thing: taking care of your body and your physical health is a priority. It helps you not only stay in good physical shape, but it helps your mental and emotional health, too. It’s worth investing in.

But hey, we do get busy. It is hard to get out and exercise when you feel squeezed to balance work and life. So how do you do it all? If you feel like you can barely keep up with going to the gym every week, how can you possibly train for a marathon?

Here are my top tips on marathon training for busy professionals. Trust me—it can be done!


6 Marathon Training Tips for Busy Professionals, From a Busy Professional

1) Focus on quality, not quantity.

It’s possible to train well and run great marathons on training regimens that have you running only three and four days a week. Crazy, right? Sometimes less really is more, even when it comes to marathon training. Here’s the key though: you have to have quality runs. These runs should all have specific goals in mind to maximize their effectiveness. 

For example: run for speed one day, strength another, and distance another. You want to build up your endurance, stamina, and stats effectively throughout your training. If you don’t have a goal in mind to work on specific areas, your runs won’t be as effective. Target your training. Consider running at different inclines, distances, and speeds with each run to maximize the quality of the time you do spend training.

2) Aim for morning runs.

I don’t know about you, but most of us are tired at the end of a long work day. It’s hard to get home and choose to get dressed in spandex and go out for a run. While getting up early isn’t everyone’s favorite thing, you can train yourself to do it—and you won’t regret it. Get up early, run before work, and enjoy how invigorating it is! 

No matter when you decide to run, just know when you’re going to do it. If you make running a spontaneous activity, you’re much less likely to actually get out and do it.

3) Prep & pack.

If you’re not running in the mornings, maybe you’re squeezing it in during lunch. Maybe you’re hitting the gym after work. One of the most important things you have to do is pack your gear. Get it all out and ready to go in a gym bag the night before. Keep it on hand. That way you’ll never be able to use the excuse of forgetting your running shoes or the right clothes to weasel out of a run. Take it with you on business trips! Don’t miss an opportunity.

4) Learn to rest.

Just because your training regimen isn’t six days a week doesn’t mean you don’t need to rest. As busy professionals, we have demanding careers and responsibilities that are mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing. It’s important to rest as much as it is to run or you won’t be at your best. 

5) Crosstrain.

If you’re running with a condensed schedule (three or four times a week) that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook the rest of the time. It’s crucial that you still work out during the rest of the week when you can. Work on your strength training, do other kinds of cardio work outs, and mix it up! 

If you don’t have time to go to the gym, buy some free weights and lift at home. Jump rope. Do something! It’s not enough to just run, regardless of your schedule.

6) Don’t overcompensate.

We’re busy. And when we add marathon training on top of work, one is inevitably going to get in the way of the other (hint, it’s work). A trip will come up unexpectedly, you’ll have to work late, you’ll simply be too tired—it happens. Life happens. Busy runners often make the mistake of trying to make up for lost time. They cram in more runs, more workouts, and more effort to somehow catch up on what they missed.

Our bodies don’t work like that. You can’t play catch up, and trying really risks injury! Give yourself some grace. If you get behind, just pick back up where you left off. If it means you aren’t ready for your marathon, do the next marathon. Don’t force yourself to do something that you know you aren’t prepared for and risk injury. You can wait.

In work, life, and running it's all about playing smarter, not harder.