How to Train for a Marathon When You’re a Busy Mom

Most of the time, my life feels like a juggling act. Instead of juggling balls, I’m juggling babies, work, writing, household duties, running, and about four different calendars. So much seems to get packed into one week that by the weekend I’m gasping for air. Except the weekend doesn’t actually slow down.

Some people thrive on this kind of life: never a dull moment, filled with activities and adventure, and flitting from one thing to the next. I don’t mind having fun activities and a full life, but I’m a natural introvert who needs some quiet down time to do nothing.

What do I do instead?

I sign up for my third marathon. (Sometimes I think I am legitimately crazy.)


How on earth can I expect to add another “ball” to my already flimsy juggling pattern? I have plenty going on without adding this additional commitment.

I think that time and the “busy” factor hold a lot of us back from pursuing dreams we have. One of my dreams and goals is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and I if I don’t make the time to train and actual pursue this, it will be one of those things I wish I’d done.

Our time is finite. Every one of us  gets 24 hours each day. That’s it. There isn’t a single mom or woman who has discovered an extra hour to fit in a run or workout. We have to work with the time we’ve been blessed with. Clearly, God in his wisdom knew that 24 hours was a long enough time for us to use each day for his glory.

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If a busy schedule is what’s holding you back from training or pursuing any goal for that matter, I’d like to share a couple of things I’ve learned that help me with my struggles in balancing work, family, life and training.


This is step one. Sit down and make of list of all of the commitments, responsibilities and things you enjoy. Write down things you spend your actual time on and things you wish you had more time to do. Once you have your list, put them in order of importance. What are your top priorities? Things like husband, kids, Bible study, and work will probably be at the top of your priority list. These are the places your time will be focused. As you go further down your list you might discover that your spend far more time on things that don’t matter or aren’t a high priority: Facebook scrolling, web-surfing, TV watching. If training for a marathon is a high priority, then maybe we can sacrifice one of those non-priorities to dedicate time to training. The important thing is to put your time and energy on the things that are important to you; remember, our time is finite!


Set up Accountability

Once you’ve decided to run a marathon and have signed up for one, one of the first things you need to do is TELL SOMEONE. Put it on  Facebook, tell your friends, or share on Instagram. You might be afraid of sounding like you’re “humble bragging”, but don’t worry, you’re not. You’re giving yourself accountability, and there is so much power within accountability. I like to use Instagram to keep accountable for my runs and training. If I share with nearly 800 people that I’m running a marathon, they expect me to run a marathon. If I don’t do it, I’ll have to share that with 800 people that I failed, and I don’t want to do that. Having some accountability turns training into a priority that you will make time for.


Be Flexible

If there’s one giant lesson I’ve had to learn in balancing training and life, it’s flexibility. This is a motherhood lesson everyone learns at one point or another. You’ve already learned how to be flexible in things like potty training, sleep training, and dressing your child. Why not practice that same skill with training? Missed your morning run?  Try again during nap time. Don’t have a treadmill? Plop kids in the jogging stroller and take them with you. No stroller? Put dinner in the crock pot and go after the husband comes home. Don’t what to miss dinner with your family? Go after the kids are in bed. The bottom line is, if you make it a priority, you are allowed to be flexible with your time to fit it in. There is no one perfect way to train.


Remember Your Goal

There will come a time when the excitement of training for something so big will wear off. When the idea of waking up early to run, or getting on the treadmill after a long and tiring day will be the last thing you will want to do. It’s frustrating and disheartening, and the perfect recipe for throwing in the towel and  giving up. When the doubt and negativity creep in, remember why you started! Was it to accomplish a weight loss or health goal? Was it to check something off your bucket list? Was it to prove to yourself that you are capable of more than you could ever imagine? Was it to inspire your daughter and show her the she could do anything? Whatever your “why” is, remember it! Write it on a sticky note and stick it on your mirror, or by your running shoes. Talk to your spouse about it. Take it to the Lord in prayer. When things get tough, focus on why you started in the first place.


Surround Yourself with Support

I’m am blessed with an amazingly supportive husband. He’s the kind of man who will share my goals with me and commit to making it work. I have a wonderful network of friends and family who have watched children on race day, who have allowed me to bunk at their house the night before a race, or who have driven me to a start line. I have kids who will run the last stretch of a race with me, giggling and smiling with me. I’m very blessed, and there is no way I could do any of this, if I didn’t have their support. Surround yourself with people who will believe in you and will help you achieve your goal. Whether your husband or a group of friends, you need people who are willing to watch the kids for a Saturday long run when your husband has meetings. People who understand when you say you can’t go out because you have a training run the next morning. It takes a village to train for a marathon, and finding people in your corner is a big key to success.


You have the ability to pursue any dream! Marathon training takes time, but with the right tools you can make the time and make it happen.

Are you training for anything this year?

Related Posts:

How to Run a Sub-2 Hour Half Marathon
4 Tricks to Get You Working Out
4 Things to Do When You Taper for a Marathon
4 Workouts to Increase Running Speed


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