The constant juggle: how to balance life with endurance training

Does this sound familiar? You start the week with training runs booked in, then life gets in the way and you end up stressed, juggling all your responsibilities and feeling like you’ll never meet your goals. By Sunday, you’re deflated, feeling that you’ve failed or let yourself down. If that sounds like you, you’re definitely not alone.

Here’s some quick advice on making the right kind of space – space you can stick to – for endurance training:

Commit it to ink

You’re more likely to commit to things if you write them down. Take a pen and jot down your big goal or event. Then ask yourself how much time you want to dedicate to your training each week to get there. Include the time it takes to get ready, get to where you need to be, and shower and recover afterwards. If nothing else was in the way, what would an ideal training week look like?

Identify the mines

List anything that’s likely to derail that ideal training week.

Don’t just include the obvious culprits. Be honest and write down ‘non-core’ activities you regularly do – the dead time when you’re ruminating but not actually doing anything, the amount of time you spend scrolling through social media, or when you spend too much time reviewing what you’ve done on Strava…

How much time do you really give to these non-core activities? If you can, set yourself goals to reduce the time you spend doing those things – at the end of the day, they’re time spent not moving towards achieving your goal or fulfilling your responsibilities.

Are you losing time to worrying about something else? If something’s on your mind, is that what’s really pulling you away from training? If that’s you, be clear about who you need to talk to in order to help you deal with your concerns.

Then there’s your ‘core’ activities – the stuff you need to do to be there for those around you. I’m talking about work, family and friends. Can you do any of these a bit differently, or ask those around you to help you achieve your goal by freeing you up to train?

Gather your supporters

Let people in on your training problem. If it’s appropriate, talk to your colleagues, family and friends about what you need to set enough time apart to put the right amount of training in. You’d be amazed at how supportive we can all be to someone who has the right goal and is asking for help to achieve it.

Could you start work half an hour later one or two days a week and make up the time at lunchtime? Is there a friend who could take the kids to school one day a week?

Get those around you involved, and they’ll feel part of your journey. This isn’t necessarily about making huge changes – it’s more about subtle but important tweaks you can make to create windows of training opportunity.

Stick hard to the ‘why’

Go back to why you’re going for your goal whenever you can. And share those thoughts with the important people in your life. I’ve found that their support and involvement can be a real encouragement, as well as helping me refine what I’m aiming at – in all aspects of life. By setting out your stall and aiming for a big goal or event, you might find that others are inspired to embark on their own. Change is infectious.

This process is about embracing your environment rather than being held hostage by it; very few of us have the luxury or financial security to be able to walk away from life’s responsibilities. You need to create time for training – and still be present for the really important stuff in life. By bringing those around you along on the journey, you might end up with stronger bonds and a tribe of people who are willing to help you out to see you achieve your goals.

Quality, not quantity

When time is precious, be sure to have a goal for what you want to get out of each training session. Sometimes it pays to switch it up. I’m always amazed by how much my running improves when I’m able to fit in a longer mid-week run, rather than just 30-60 minutes here and there.

Chances are, if you’re an endurance runner you’ll have schedules or a coach to support your training. It’s also worth adding in weighted training. Wearing a weighted vest, I’ve found that my strength and conditioning have really improved, despite less mileage this year. Added bonus: when you then run without the weight, you feel light and breezy! The proof of the pudding will be next June at the South Downs Way 100…

How’s your training? Are you feeling like you’ve not got the time to get ready for your next event? Or perhaps you’re struggling to create quality rather than just quantity in your training runs. I’m an endurance running coach with XNRG – drop me a line on to find out more.

5 thoughts on “The constant juggle: how to balance life with endurance training

  1. Hi I’m 65 and female. I’ve never been able to get through a season without injury. Right knee and permanently tight calves. I can’t afford a trainer which I’d love! Any suggestions? Thanks Sue.


    1. Hi Sue
      I love my step-board and use it to static stretch my calves for two minutes before and after each run.
      Not only should this really loosen up your calves, but it it might also help your knee.
      Happy running!


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