A Weekend-lovers Approach to Marathon Training

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Two things I love most about the weekend are sharing a nice meal and a bottle of wine with the hubs on Friday night, and hitting the farmer’s market in comfy yoga clothes with a latte in hand on Saturday morning.

If you’ve ever run a half- or a full marathon though, you know how quickly weekends can lose their appeal. For 4 months you politely decline invites to any and all social events occurring on a Friday night and spend half of your Saturday running the umpteen miles you’ve been dreading all week.

I don’t mind putting in the time and the miles, but I’ve realized that the weekend long run is by far my least favorite part about training. Sometimes they feel like more of a burden than they’re worth, and that’s definitely not what I want training for my first marathon to feel like.

Call us crazy but as Erin and I talked about how we should tackle our long runs, we both kept coming back to the idea of doing them during the week. We compared schedules, weighed the pros and cons of weekday vs. weekend runs and ultimately decided to schedule our long runs on Friday mornings.

Last Friday Erin and I did 8 miles before 8am and I must say, I felt pretty darn content sitting down at my desk with a latte in hand and 8 hours of desk work to do.

I realize there will be a few 4:15am wake-up calls, some very long Friday afternoons at work and probably several weeks I’ll be too tired for those Friday night dinner dates, but this basically means unlimited lattes all day on Friday and lazy Saturdays in yoga pants to look forward to.

Doesn’t that sound kind of amazing?

Runners: How have you made long runs work for you?

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  • I’m a grad student, so I have a lot of flexibility on Fridays. There’s nothing I dread more than a Saturday long run, so I’ve been thinking about re-working my training to fit it in on Friday. So glad I’m not alone and that it’s a doable plan!

  • I am so jealous of all of you that can function that early in the morning. I can get up at any time I need to, but I’ve never been able to train in the morning… ever. I wish I could, so that I too can free up evening and weekend time.

  • This is a great post! I also love my weekends! I’ve run 5 marathons and am hoping to run my 6th in the Fall. (I’m currently recovering from an injury and I’m getting married in the Fall so we’ll see!) Bart Yasso’s book, ‘My Life on the Run’ has a training plan that I’m thinking about using for my next 26.2. Instead of running your long runs every weekend, you run them every 10 days. This gives you ample time to rest/recover in between and still train properly for a race. I like this plan because I won’t be running EVERY weekend. Might be worth looking into!

  • This is a great idea, and I try to do it when I can. This weekend I have a wedding on Friday night so the odds of me getting up on Saturday to run ten miles aren’t great and I’ll be able to enjoy the wedding without thinking about the run the next day. Great post!

  • OMG! I’m so with you!! Great idea about Friday mornings!! I crave slow Saturdays at the farmer’s market. Next marathon I want to schedule halfs, 10Ks throughout the training so that I can just add on the additional miles and make training seem more fun. In fact, we are about to leave for our 20 mile training run now…ugh. Happy thoughts.

  • Love this idea! My friend and I trained for our first full marathon during our last semester of college a few years ago. We agreed not to let training get in the way of our weekend activities and seeing our friends. This meant getting a lot of our long runs in before class on Friday mornings. My only recommendation would be to be mindful of adequate calorie intake before opening that Friday evening bottle of wine :) Deceivingly tricky! Enjoy your training!

  • I’m on the same page! I do most of my long runs on weekdays just so I can get them over with and enjoy my Saturday morning sleep in. Plus, i’m up early anyway so it doesn’t seem like much of a burden!

    One of the challenges can of course be running when it is dark, so I would often start at the track and run a few miles there (where it is safe and lit) before heading out. Also served as a great pitstop too!

    Sometimes for runs over 16 miles I would end up doing them on a weekend purely for recovery reasons. I could get my run in, take an ice bath, foam roll, and give my tired feet and body a rest by wearing PJs and slippers the rest of the day. Oh, and close proximity to the fridge was also nice :) Luckily, since these runs only happen 2-4 times in marathon training it was never too bad for me to talk myself into.

    Running an insane amount of miles before work is a nice feeling, huh?! So excited to continue to hear about your journey to your first 26.2!

    • Great idea about starting at the track, especially for those solo long runs. We’ll be starting and ending our runs at our gym downtown so we’ll have access to foam rollers and ice afterwards, though not a full ice bath… but I’m not sure I could talk myself into doing one of these even if the gym had one!

  • I love this and took a similar, maybe less-conventional, approach to getting in long runs without sacrificing my Saturday brunch dates (read: lattes and mimosas)…I’m in charge of the fitness/wellness activities at our office – something I kicked off last year as a passion project – and have since used it as an excuse to do “team building” on Friday’s AND longer runs with people who keep me motivated. Two birds, one stone – all before Saturday :)

  • Ahhh I have been debating doing my long run Friday instead of Saturday because I want to enjoy my day off. This post just convinced me even more to do my 10 mile run on Friday morning so I can enjoy my Saturday and not miss my long run for the week!

  • Yes, yes, yes to all of this! So far I’ve only ran one half, but will begin training for another one in the future and have a full on my mind for sometime in 2015. As I think about transitioning back into training I’ve thought about just how much I’ll miss my Saturday mornings–especially because I’m such a morning person.

    Like others have mentioned I’m not sure that I could swing all of my long runs on Fridays, but that would be awesome to try. Luckily I have a flexible work schedule and often times my runs start at or near work and we have a gym on campus so I could come back here, shower and then head right to my office.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I ran an 18 mile training run before work on Friday one time because I was going away that weekend! I don’t know if I could have done all my long runs on Friday mornings but it was certainly nice to have the option. In general, I always tried to get my runs done early in the morning so I could enjoy the rest of my weekend.

  • I tackled a 16 mile run before work and, while it was super hard waking up at 4, it was my favorite run of marathon training. I had a wedding to go to that weekend and it felt SO good to get it out of the way. For my marathon, I won’t do every long run on Fridays, but it’s nice to have that option and know I can handle it! Good luck!

  • I’m very fortunate that I don’t work Fridays so that day becomes my long run day and then I still get my weekend. I dont know if I could do a 4:15 wake up call for a run. But I get the appeal compared to dreading your weekend.

  • love this approach! i’m curious – what training plan are you following? sorry if you posted and i missed it.

  • I would do quite a few long runs on Fridays too. With a husband that’s basically only home on weekends it just made sense so I wasn’t spending hours running and then relaxing.

  • Honestly, I would much rather do all of my long runs on a Friday morning as well. However, I don’t have a job that is flexible enough to do it when I’m training for a full unless I want to start running at 2:30 a.m. :)… I am a teacher. With that said, I can and do often do it when I’m training for half marathons.

    Great tip to spread to others! Hope things are going well!

  • I LOVE this idea! I’m currently training for a half marathon and have been doing my long runs on my ONLY day off. I love running, but it’s been tough not having a single morning to be able to sleep in and be lazy. I think I might definitely have to give Fridays a try. :)

  • Great post Elle! I’ve found that the best way for me to fit in training (for any sort of race, any distance) is to get it done first thing in the morning. I’m an early riser (4am during the week) and tend to only sleep till about 6am on the weekends – my body is just programmed that way I guess! I find by getting it done early, it leaves the entire rest of the day for other commitments.

  • Ahhh… You just made me feel a whole lot better about marathon training starting in July! I am part of a training group here in Chicago and was starting to get anxious about having/wanting to miss a few 6am Saturday morning runs. Summer travel isn’t always inevitable! But you’re right, I can totally do my long runs on Friday mornings if I need to and missing the group run doesn’t mean I have to miss my weekly long run.