How do you do it all? Balancing a full time job, marathon training (and a side hustle) 

Balancing a full-time job and marathon training

How do you do it all?  The messages I was sending in my third week of work were to my friends that seem to do it all, balancing work, running their own business, side hustling and social media. I was already stressing out, my running was going downhill fast and I was falling asleep at 8pm, unable to focus on anything once I got home. 

Luckily they messaged back saying, no-one is doing it all.

They recommended outsourcing, focusing my energy on the aspects of my ‘business’ that I enjoy (like instagram), and giving someone else the ones I don’t, or the things I’m not good at (like editing my new podcast!). I’m letting go of the aspects that I can’t do as well or as quickly as someone else.

Balancing a full-time job and marathon training (and a side hustle)

Outsourcing

I was given some great advice to outsource, mostly business stuff that I’m not good at, or that takes me forever yet would take someone else 5 minutes. We are also really lucky to have a cleaner once a week which is amazing. I make sure to organise 5 days of work outfits in advance and get them ironed on a Tuesday by Michaela. I understand this is super privileged and I am so lucky that we are able to afford her (side note I’ve heard that cleaners are a lot more expensive in the US than in the UK. And I definitely know this is not something available to everyone). Not everyone needs to outsource business work, but if you do need help…ask for it. Whether it’s with a project at work, car pooling for school, or just asking your partner/family/friends for help when things get busy. 

Getting up earlier

I’m best in the mornings, and useless by about 9pm. So my plan is to wake up at 5am, work until 6am then drive then drive to work and run near work. Currently I leave the house at 7am to get to my desk by 8.30 am – the traffic can be really unpredictable so I have to leave 90 minutes just incase at that time of day. But by switching to 6am commute, I’m hoping that I can make it in under an hour…and get a better parking spot! It’s so annoying that nothing seems to happen in the UK until 7am, my gym doesn’t open at 7am and neither does the one next to my work.

I wish that we had the attitude of the US gyms and studios with 5am classes! My hours are a little unpredictable right now, and I don’t always leave on time which means morning is my best shot. Oh and also all I want to do most evenings is crash on the sofa! 

Utilising the mornings mean you can get things done before emails start rolling in, things happen at work that mean you can’t leave on time, and the to-do list gets ever longer. Not everyone thrives in the morning, and that’s OK. You don’t have to get up crazy early, even if you give yourself an extra 15 minutes to tick something off your list, it can be worth it.

how to balance life and work and running

Run commuting

I used to get a lot of my easy runs done run commuting when I was on my placements and nannying. It was often the only way to get it done. Most of my commute is along the M4 so run commuting is a little tricky. But I am going to give a run – train – run approach to a run commute and hope its better than nothing! 

Working and living in a town/city is much easier, but there might be a way to make it work by getting creative.

Planning

This is KEY. Planning meals and packed lunches ahead of time. Organising my work clothes on a Sunday so that I don’t waste time stressing over what to wear at 5am. Scheduling in the workouts and runs each week. And trying to stay super organised with my IG and blog stuff (this I’ve been really bad at since starting my new job). 

Letting go of perfection

When I was on placement I struggled to make my lunch and bring it to the hospital everyday. So I just let that go and bought my lunch most days. Yes it was expensive but it was just one thing I relaxed and gave myself leeway on. 

And now for something that might be controversial….RUNNING LESS. 

I followed the Run Faster, Run Less training plan ish back when I ran the Berlin Marathon. And it worked really, really well for me. Whilst I’m not quite following it this time round, I am focusing on three key runs per week, then doing the easy runs when and if I can! I’ve kind of got 3 hard runs; weds, Friday and Sunday, an easy run on Tues and an optional easy run on Saturday. 

how to balance life and work and running

So many of you are balancing work, running, parenting, long commutes, side hustles and doing amazingly. Who better to ask for their tips… It was actually Lucysrunningdiary that encouraged me to get up earlier to fit it in pre-work than trying to do too much blog stuff in the evening. So I’ve put together a sort of schedule:

I KNOW it’s kind of ridiculous that I’ve had to schedule in IG. But guys, sometimes it takes me like 30+ minutes to think of and write a caption. So writing them in the evening to post first thing takes off the pressure at 7am. 

Other top tips for ‘doing it all’.. 

  • Prioritise the weekend Runs – were ‘weekend warriors” make sure you make the most of the weekend time to build those miles.
  • Looking at what else has gone on that day/week in work and life that may affect training and being easy on yourself. Your body doesn’t recognise diff areas of stress 
  • Plan all the logistic of your workout at the start of the week and treat them mostly like non-negotiable meetings/activities
  • Plan quick, easy meals to make sure you’re not spending hours in the kitchen (if you don’t want to) to make sure you have good nutrition, which will also help in other areas in your life as well as running. 
  • Control the controllables… if you can’t leave work on time it might be unavoidable, but you can prep your meals, pack your sports kit, commit to your morning workouts (actually another reason I’m focusing on morning runs!) 
  • Have a realistic plan – think you can only run 3 times per week? Then trying to stick to a plan that has you running 6 days per week is just setting yourself up for failure. 

How to do it all - balancing life and work and marathon training

I shared my plan on Instagram yesterday, with a variety of responses

Monday – 5-7am Blog work, 5.30pm GYM, evening IG and newsletter 

Tuesday – 5-6am blog work, RUN COMMUTE, 7-8am run evening IG 

Wednesday – 4.30am-5.30am work, 5.30-6.30am drive to work, 6.30-8am run, 6.30-730pm gym/PT evening IG 

Thursday – 6.30-7,30am Reformer Pilates, 6-7pm Blog work

Friday – 5.00-6.30am run

Saturday– park run ? Or OFF 

Sunday – Long Run and BLOG  evening IG  

I know it’s early mornings but I was so relieved to know I wasn’t alone in the pre-dawn alarms. In fact, some of you guys are getting up at 3.30am to get your work, training and life done! I’m going to be flexible with it, and give it a try to see how I get on. Whilst also prioritising sleep with early bedtimes and recovery.

Got any extra tips? Would love any advice you have…

10 Comments

  1. W. Purves
    4th March 2020 / 12:06 pm

    Good thinking. G.

  2. josie
    4th March 2020 / 1:08 pm

    Sounds like you’ve come up with a plan, although it does look exhausting. Is this long term or just for short term? If you’re doing Manchester marathon won’t you be tapering in couple weeks anyhow? Are you still going for BQ time? If BQ is a goal then what about lightening the load of blog and instagram commitments

  3. Rian
    4th March 2020 / 6:55 pm

    I work full time and am training to become a yoga teacher. Plus I’m training for my first road marathon, plus a bunch of other races over the summer. Also, trip to South Africa coming up!

    I’ve accepted while my running is “best” in the morning, I’m not a morning person. I commit to doing most of my long runs as a run commute home at the end of the day. I find the inertia of the sofa is hard to over come so my cross training has to get done while I still have momentum after work so my cross training is generally done at 530pm three times a week. And my short runs get done on the treadmill in the evening or on weekends.

    Come summer when the sun is out more, I’ll readjust.

    My biggest commitment is to commit to be gentle with myself. If something has to change, it has to change. No judgement.

  4. 5th March 2020 / 11:13 am

    Definitely agree with having a cleaner!
    I generally train twice a day so it’s getting up at 5.30am and then training again in the evening. I do my social/blog stuff when I’m on the train commuting.

  5. hannah
    5th March 2020 / 12:04 pm

    hmmmmm looks a tough schedule ! I find summer training for an autumn marathon easier with the longer daylight. I won’t be surprised if there’s an announcement that you’re no longer targeting a BQ in this marathon or are planning to do a later marathon instead

  6. 5th March 2020 / 5:03 pm

    Thank you, it’s really impressive and it’s full of useful tips.
    So far, I only manage to get up early for a run but not for the social/blog stuff yet, but I will definitely give it a try.
    I am curious on how much is your planning changing when you prepare for a marathon? Do you increase your running time, or just increase the intensity as you mentioned with the 50/50 method?

  7. 6th March 2020 / 1:33 pm

    Thanks for this post Charlie. Interesting to see your issues and how you’re trying to work on them. Definitely a good and realistic training plan at times of the day you know you will be able to run is key. Also, thinking about your goals long term. e.g. trying to squeeze a marathon plan in to 10 weeks, when a longer duration plan that you’ll stress about less, is maybe more beneficial.

  8. 9th March 2020 / 1:29 pm

    Control the controllable is so true.
    I’ve found if I want to run during the week, it has to be in the morning because evenings are all too often shot. I’m in the good/bad place of my commute not being long enough for a “real” run as it’s less than 5K, but sometimes it’s better than nothing. Good luck with the new routine.

  9. Amy E Haas
    23rd March 2020 / 10:14 am

    Love, love, LOVE this post. Balance is so unbelievably important – not just the balance of the different areas of our lives, but also the balance of HOW MUCH energy, attention, and time that we give to each one. I love the tips that you offered & the real-life examples that you gave from your personal life and experience! Thanks for the great read!! 😊

  10. 28th March 2020 / 1:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Great article. I also wanted to know in leg press vs squat which exercise you prefer to do.