How ultra-trail runners fit training into a busy life

Tips for juggling family, work, friendships, and a regular running practice, while staying sane

November 21st, 2019 by | Posted in Trail Running | Tags: , , , , ,

It’s dark, it’s cold, and it’s the time of year when skipping a run seems like a great idea. Sometimes it feels impossible to juggle family, work, friendships, and a regular running practice all while staying sane. You’re not alone. Even the best ultra-trail runners struggle with motivation at this time of year.

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2018 Barkley Marathons
Jamil Coury and Mike Wardian at the 2018 Barkley Marathons. Photo: Canadian Running

When ultrarunner, father, race director and ultra-preneur Jamil Coury asked Twitter for tips to stay on track with balancing it all, he wasn’t asking for a friend. Useful and practical advice came flocking in from many well respected and talented trail runners. Passionate trail and ultrarunners from a range of abilities and backgrounds responded, sharing their strategies for doing it all and not burning out. Here’s what they tweeted:

Balance is relative

Filmmaker, podcast creator, and ultrarunner Billy Yang believes dividing up responsibilities looks different for everyone. “Balance is all relative and everyone’s pie charts look different. Just shift/tweak/adjust as necessary given the seasons,” he tweets.

Commuting is key

Many tweeters responded in support for the run commute in order to increase mileage in training. They also recommended adding in a lunchtime workout or hills on the weekends.

Do it early

Coach and ultrarunner Jason Koop gets up at 4:30 a.m. ready to get it done. Canadian Anne-Marie Madden agrees, and she suggests an early morning workout combined with a run commute to start the day.

RELATED: How Anne-Marie Madden dominated TNF Endurance Challenge Championships

24 hours is a myth

The Queen of 200s race director Candice Burt shares that she has “learned to not see things in as much of a 24 hour way.” For example, she promotes simplifying her days so that she focuses on more work on some, more training on others, and more family time on other days.

Set a timer

Ultrarunning vet Megan Hicks says that she uses a timer app for core workouts and foam rolling during work breaks.

Consistency is key

Running isn’t perfect, so doing something is better than nothing. Often, running one mile with your kid is better than a Netflix marathon. “The vast majority of fitness comes through consistency/workouts don’t need to be ideal/perfect,” tweets Hicks.

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OH MY it’s Tahoe 200 lottery time! This was the first 200 miler I created back in 2013 and I didn’t set out to create a 200, but rather just a kick ass race around one of my favorite places in the world, Lake Tahoe. Hard to believe it’s 6 years later and now I organize three (!!) 200+ mile race plus a bunch of other events (see: @destinationtrailraces ) The Tahoe 200 lottery is open NOW until Oct 28. Participants will be chosen Oct 30. Now is your chance to run this stunning route through California and Nevada. The Tahoe 200 is the FIRST, the most POPULAR and the BIGGEST 200 miler I organize and there’s a reason: this race circumnavigates the largest alpine lake in the USA, Lake Tahoe, a recreation paradise set in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The route takes the world renowned Tahoe Rim Trail, travels through 4 National forests and the Crystal Basin to finish at Homewood Mountain Resort. Each mile of the route a unique exploration mentally and physically. Learn more here: Tahoe200.com Register for the lottery here: http://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=71087 (link in bio)

A post shared by Candice Burt (@runcandicerun) on

Wing it

Many ultra-trail parents shared that their priority is family and “everything else falls where it must.”

Set reasonable goals

Know your priorities and set goals based on the time you have in a typical week. Just remember that a typical week for an ultrarunner is anything but average–as we are all a bit guilty of overachieving.

Forget about balance

If you want something done, give it to an ultrarunner. Ultra-trail runners are busy and often passionate about everything they juggle. Amy Broadmoore replied to Coury’s tweet with, “I have a feeling that you and @BillyYang are as successful as you are because you immerse yourself in your work (at least for stretches) and let your life get out of balance.”

Celebrate gains

Feeling successful with what you can do is key, rather than focusing on what you don’t have enough time for.

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