Training for Tuesday: The Busy Person's (i.e. Everyone's) Guide to Training

When last we spoke on Training for Tuesday, I had just run the Shamrock Marathon and was a little, shall we limbo.  Even though I had a few shorter distance running races and triathlons on the horizon, I wasn't training for anything specific, and I wasn't even sure if my goal race for the fall (Princeton 70.3) was even going to take place. Would you believe that it got officially canceled literally a few hours after that post (wherein I waxed philosophical about if I should even do it anyway, provided it actually happened this year) went live?! My choices now are either don't do a half Ironman this year, to do Beach2Battleship (a non-Ironman brand race) in October. I haven't registered yet, but I'm going with the latter.

Even though I don't have any new distances in my future until October, with spring comes triathlon season so I've started to ramp up and diversify my workouts. Even though the amount of time I spend training is about the same as it was when I was marathon training, the number of workouts is a lot higher so sometimes it feels like more.  So instead of giving you all the deets about my current training cycle (which really isn't much beyond what you get from Sunday Sweats since I'm not training for a specific goal race), I thought I'd share how I fit in all of that training even with a busy schedule. I can do it, and so can you!

My husband recently told me I'm the busiest person he knows. Whether that's true or he just doesn't know enough people, I'm not sure, but you know what? He's not totally wrong. I am a busy person. On top of trying to be a decent wife, friend, daughter, sister, runner, triathlete, and yogi, I'm working on a degree in one of the top programs in the country in my field. It's incredibly demanding and time-consuming, much more so than the full-time job I left to go get said degree ever was (and, considering I was a teacher, that's saying a lot). The silver lining is that my schedule is more flexible and variable than it was when I was teaching full-time, but the bad news is that being more variable means it's way more unpredictable, and more often than not I find myself under pressure to meet an unexpected deadline.

Here's the thing: we're all busy. I have no doubt that, as an adult human being with people and things who depend on you, you have your own version of what I described above. We all have daily obligations, whether we like them or not, and unless there's some elite athlete who gets paid to run reading this (Kara Goucher, if it's you, I <3 me...), I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we all have to find time to fit in training.

Did you hear me? We have to find time. The time to work out is not going to show up on the doorstep every morning with a pretty bow wrapped around it. To be sure, it's there, somewhere in the schedule, but it's probably not going to readily present itself. There are always errands to be run, dishes to be done, laundry to be folded, projects to be worked on, etc. that need just as much, if not more of our attention and energy, than our workouts. I often get asked how I manage to train so much and the short, honest answer is this: I find time. I make time. I fit it in when and where I can. Some days it's harder than others, and I don't always perfectly succeed, but as my other #girlcrush and boss lady Bethenny Frankel says: Do what you can.

Keep Your Goals in Sight
And I do mean literally. Keep them right in front of your face. Print out a motivational quote or picture and hang it on your mirror. Visualize the finish line to get motivated to get out the door or to the gym. Do you think I've had this hanging on the bulletin board at my desk for the last 6 months just because I'm too lazy to take it down?

Do you think I've had an Ironman keychain on my key ring for the last year and a half just because I haven't gotten around to taking it off yet?

Absolutely not. I keep those subtle reminders around to help me remember that no matter what I have going on, I can fit in a 30-minute run here or an hour-long bike there. Sometimes it requires some creative scheduling to get it all done, but I never regret looking back on my day and knowing I did everything I could to get one step closer to living my dreams.

Work Out When You're Tired
I know, at the end of a long day, sinking into the couch sometimes always seems more enticing than lacing up and going for a run, but sometimes those endorphins are what you really need to get your energy back up. Of course, rest is an extremely important part of any exercise regimen, so if you're absolutely dead tired and exhausted, it's probably best to skip that workout and rest up for the next one. But if you're trying to decide between a quick nap or a 5-mile run (like I was this past Friday), you may find that spending those 45 minutes being active will make you feel more awake.

Early Mornings, Late Nights
I mentioned that I have a flexible schedule, and that's true in the sense that I don't have somewhere to be from 9-5 every day; the flip side of that is that I've adopted the hours of 9am-9pm, or later as need be, as working hours. Sometimes I'm able to fit in my workouts during regular work hours, and I always try to plan a workout break somewhere during the day, but there are some projects that take longer than expected and I'm just not able to take a break like I planned. At least once a week I wrap up my work around 9:30pm or 10:00pm and only then am I free to get in my workout for the day. Sadly, that doesn't really work for running so if I know ahead of time I'm going to be too busy to fit in an afternoon run, I'll get up early and do it first thing. Working out right after I get up isn't my favorite thing in the world, but I gotta do what I gotta do. 

Make An Appointment
I've given this advice before but it's one of the most effective things I've ever heard, so I'd be doing you a disservice by not passing it on. The idea is simple: you wouldn't miss an appointment with your doctor, right? The dentist? Your hair stylist (especially when you have 3-month roots and a head full of split ends)? No, you wouldn't, and that, very simply, is why I don't miss workouts. They go into my schedule every week. They are a planned part of my day before I have time to make excuses to not do them. Sure, sometimes things come up and I need to reschedule for later in the day or even for a different day, but I rarely blow them off completely.

Have a life outside of training
Maybe that seems counterintuitive to what I've been saying, but hear me out. Again, I understand that you're busy and that time is limited, but if you take all those rare, spare moments and put them in the training bank, you're gonna go broke. I speak from experience (I learn the lessons the hard way, so you don't have to!). Sometimes you just need a nap or a happy hour instead of a run. No judgment here. As long as you keep it to an every now and then thing, and not an every week thing, you'll save your training and your sanity. The key to maintaining a successful training cycle is to make time for it without letting it take over your life. It takes a bit of practice to get the balance right, so try not to get frustrated as you establish a routine.

Train for what you love
Life is short, people. It's way too short to spend hours slaving away on the treadmill training for a 10k when you don't even like running. Or to keep working on your crow pose when you don't even like arm balances. That doesn't mean that there won't be pain and suffering, mentally and physically, when training for the things that truly matter to you. Those things are just a part of the process. But if you find yourself repeatedly making excuses to back out of your training sessions, that's a red flag that maybe you need to reevaluate what you're really training for. It might just be that you need to take a step back, or take a break until you fall back in love with you sport of choice, or it might mean that you need a new goal. As much as I love running, I realize that it's not for everyone, and I would hate to see someone push themselves through training for something like a half marathon and hate every single step. That's not the point of training. Find something you love, then train for it; if you keep waiting for the opposite to happen, your chances aren't looking very good.

Despite all of that sage advice, even I'm not perfect. Hell, I bonked at mile 8 of what was supposed to be a 25-mile bike ride on Saturday just because the weather was yucky and I was cold. I'm not saying I never run into issues; what I'm saying is that I at least give it a fair shot. I go out and I try to get it done in whatever capacity I have available to me that day - physically, mentally, etc. I'm all about taking it one step at a time because every step counts! Every step you can take is one step closer to achieving your goals.



  1. woah woah woah, princeton got cancelled?! wtf?! are you physic? that's awesome.
    You are definitely pretty busy. I am most definitely not a busy person. When I worked 3 jobs & studied full time I worked out everyday. Now I work one job, zero studies and I workout less than I study. Ha! Just kidding.
    I ridiculously love this post. Sometimes I am just so lazy it's unbelievable. KC works out everyday, you fit working out into your busy schedule, Alyssa is just a straight up badass, Nadine gets up every single morning before even the worms get up. I don't dig comparing, but I am so lazy compared to everyone else ;) life is never going to change unless I take those steps - any step is better than none. truth is, like you said, you have to find / make the time, schedule it in and don't bail. the last point is my favourite, literally the other day i saw someone's post that said they were dreading this 5k because they absolutely LOATHE running and I just said 'well that sounds horrible, why would you do that?' and she was like 'well i'm hoping i'll love it' and i was like...... okay then. i'm lazy, but I do LOVE everything I do - run, yoga, lift. I love it all (when I do it). life's too short to do something you hate!!
    ps. I love when I see unsplash images haha I had a post scheduled today for working out in the am, and i used that picture, but I moved it so I could do my yoga post. we could have been image twins ;)

  2. This is why everyone thinks I am a grandma: I go to bed at 9pm so that I can get up at 4:45am every weekday to fit a run in or do yoga. I make time! I'm just not an evening runner, and I feel like I'm stealing time from my family if I run in the evenings. So I get up before they're even awake!

    I love the advice that if you're making excuse after excuse, then maybe it's just not for you. I have people tell me all the time that they wished they could run but x,y,z blah blah blah. So I just say "well, it's not for everyone. That's ok!" After my first half marathon training cycle, I was really burned out on running and thought I'd take up biking and maybe do a duathalon. After spending $450 on a bike, and only using it a handful of times, I realized that running is where it's at for me. That was an expensive lesson!

  3. Okay I honestly don't even know where to start because I just "YESSSSS!!"-ed all over all of this.
    I'm NOT a morning person, but when I started running, I moved my yoga to first thing every morning. Because if I didn't, it wouldn't get done in the evenings with everything else that I have to do after work and with running. I made time where it previously didn't exist, and I'm happier for it now.
    And I totally took your advice on Sunday and visualized the City of Oaks finish (and you, and Lisa, and I'm creepy I know...) as I had to drag my ass through the last half mile.
    And I can't agree more about training for something you *want* to do... Running is NOT for everyone, just like, say, crossfit is not for me. Of course it's not always going to be fun and awesome and great, but you should feel satisfaction and happiness and pride at SOME point... it shouldn't just be straight misery. Too many people seem to think working out has to be horrible all the time. Not true!
    Anyway, yes. Yes, this is awesome.

  4. I love this because I totally agree. We can find time for the things we want to do. Everyone has extra time if they make room for it, and exercise is one of those things. Time is just an excuse. I say no more excuses! I wake up early in the morning to work out because it is the only time that I can guarantee I will get it in. Something always comes up after work or I am just too tired or make excuses. There is no excuse at 4:30 am. Thanks for always being an inspiration!

  5. YES! Absolutely. We are ALL busy, and we have to MAKE time to do things. That is 99.9% of it, I guarantee.

    Bummer that your half iron man got cancelled, but the other tri will be good, too. :)

    You are constantly an inspiration to me, Tracy. You have so much going on, but you take a very joyful approach and you ROCK IT.

  6. Making an appointment is definitely a way to keep accountable when your life is a little crazier than usual (or just always a little crazy). I have always found that the morning workout is one of my favorites to do, but the hardest to stick to on a consistent basis. All kinds of good here! Thanks for sharing more about you! :)

  7. support. exercise is like everything else you have to make time for and only those who are serious about it will make the time; those who are not, will not make the time...that's the simple truth.

    and i'm all for old lady bedtimes! when i was working and had to get up at 5am to workout, i was in bed asleep by 930pm which meant i was actually in bed winding down by 8/815pm. even now that i'm not working, i still try and maintain my 930pm bedtime but i've sort of pushed it back to 10pm since i'm waking closer to 530am instead.

  8. Ugh the hardest is waking up early for me hah. Just ain't gonna happen. You are so right that when you're tired, still try to make the time because it's a great burst of energy (and endorphins!) when you need it most. Thanks for the motivation lady :)

  9. Such a good post and a great reminder! Even though I'm currently sidelined, a lot of this rings true with me. Last year I started penciling in my workouts and it helped seeing the week in my planner. I knew what days I was going to run, what days I was going to hit the weights w/ Jared, and what days were morning vs. evening workouts!

  10. This is great, Tracy. I agree that sometimes going out for a half hour when you wanted to take a nap can be the best! I love what you said too about training for what you love. Not everyone enjoys biking or cycling or running, etc., so why force it? Find something you get excited about and stay active doing that!

  11. #truth!

    We are all busy doing what we do in life.....making time for yourself is the most important. As a mom, I use to feel badly for working out or not spending time with the kids/hubby to have 'me time' but now I know that I need to make that time to be a better mom and wife. This is what I am excited about and this is what makes and keeps me sane!

    We are all busy....but if its important, we will find the way!

    Great post! thank you!

  12. It's funny; America is obsessed with being busy. It's like you're a failure if someone asks how you're doing and you DON'T say, "So busy, but good!" Well guess what? I'm not busy. Why? Because I threw out the BS in my life that I didn't like to make time for the things that I do, and have time to relax and take it all in. Busyness is a choice (there's actually a book on that). Does that mean I love every minute of every day? No. Do I still have to do tasks I don't want to do? Yes. Are there still hard, no good, very bad days? Yes. But I'm not busy, and never will be again.

    That said, these are great tips for when there is too much on your plate that you can't get rid of to make room for the things that serve you in life. I like these tips too because people can stop using "I'm busy" as a fake excuse for not doing things they should or following their own passions!

  13. I love all of these, but I especially loved the last tip. Just a few days ago, a student commented on my 13.1 sticker on my car, which caused us to start talking about running. He asked if I was ever going to run a full marathon, and I said, "Well, honestly? I don't really WANT to right now. And what's the point in spending that much time training for something I don't feel invested in?"

  14. Great post! I was looking back at my monthly goals and realized (not surprisingly) I did not hit my swimming goal (go 1x/week...I went zero times). I did it to myself, while I schedule my other workouts, I neglected to do that for that particular goal. I'll link up my monthly goals this Tuesday (a little behind) :)

  15. You wrote this for me didn't ya. I am pretty busy all the time but especially these days. I'd actually rather NOT be busy for a little bit. Right now I focus on running and my yoga because those are important to me. Everything else takes a back seat at the moment. And i love the make time to have a life - thats exactly what Ive been doing amidst the chaos.