The Marathon Diaries: How to Have a Social Life During Marathon Training

Let’s face it—training for a marathon eats up a lot of your extracurricular time. This week, Annie tries to find a healthy balance between running and playtime.

Annie snapped a photo during her run in Wissahickon Valley Park

I got an email from my friend a few months ago with a link to an article from The Onion, the funniest fake-news website ever. After laughing about how annoying marathoners are with all their marathon-related talk, I realized something: I’m totally one of those annoying marathoners now.

The truth of the matter is, I can talk about running for hours and hours: my shoes (Asics Kayanos 18s—best stability shoe ever), my favorite Gu flavor (Caffeinated Peach Tea), how much water I drink (10 glasses)—the topics are endless! One of these days, my non-running friends are going to slap me. One of my most supportive friends, Anne, swears she won’t, but I don’t think she can take another Friday afternoon conversation about my route for my upcoming long run.

Recently, Anne joined me for a boot camp workout on one of my cross-training days. I was so excited to have her come alone because normally a fitness class like boot camp wouldn’t be her thing. It was great to have a buddy to suffer with during all those burpees, and I was glad to see that she seemed to be enjoying it as much as a person can enjoy burpees. On the way home, I mentioned that I was kind of surprised that she liked it so much. She said she was motivated by all the running and workouts I’ve been doing in the past months to prepare for the race, and it made her want to take her workouts more seriously. I still think she secretly wants to slap me, though.

I’m glad my friends enjoy working out with me because I feel like that’s the only way I get to spend quality time with them. Sometimes I wonder how often I utter the phrase, “Sorry, I can’t—I have to go running” in the average week. I’ve turned down happy hours, dinners out, weekend trips. I’m like a broken record of boring.

So I made a resolution: I decided that in order to keep my friends from deleting my number from their iPhones, I wouldn’t bail on any fun plans they had in order to rest up for my 16 mile run last Sunday. That’s how I found myself at brunch in Fairmount on Saturday morning. And then in Northern Liberties for a few drinks … and then in Center City for dinner. I didn’t mention that I had to go home and go to bed so I could run in the morning, and I did my best to not talk about running at all. When I finally made it home, I guzzled water and put myself to bed, secretly praying that my alarm would happen to not go off the next morning.

It did, and I hit snooze; I took my time getting ready to start my run. Luckily, the weather was cool enough that I could run later in the day. I decided to try Lincoln Drive and Forbidden Drive for the first time, so I set out on Kelly planning to do eight miles out and eight miles back. While my route was beautiful, the run definitely wasn’t ideal—I felt sluggish and a tad dehydrated. But staying out the night before didn’t completely ruin my day. It’s not something I would do every weekend before a run, but I realized that I don’t have to be a hermit until November 18th.

After my weekend of running and non-running excitement, I am definitely extra tired this week. Training can be inconvenient at times (like when you’d rather be out until 2 a.m. chowing down on some late-night pizza instead of going to bed early), but it’s also an awesome journey. I realize that sometimes I need to concentrate on creating a better life balance for myself. While I’m happy that balance is on my mind, I bet my poor non-running friends are even happier. How do you guys keep from driving your family and friends crazy with race talk and training schedules?

Forty-nine days until race day!

(Side note: Thanks to all of your suggestions from last week, I ran with my iPod on Kelly Drive, but turned it off when I hit Lincoln to see how running without music would go. I figured that such a new and beautiful environment would be the perfect place to try it. I was right! While I’ll probably still keep jamming out to music on most of my long runs, it’s nice to unplug for a little bit. I’ll definitely try it again!)

…………

Annie Acri is an administrative assistant at the Drexel University College of Medicine and is working toward her master’s of communication degree. The 2012 Philadelphia Marathon will be her second marathon. Follow along every Tuesday as Annie posts about the ups and downs of training as she prepares for the big race on November 18th. Catch up on the series here.

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  • Peanut

    One day I’ll put my running shoes back on and go on a run with you. Keep it up! Remember Chuck Norris never ran a marathon!!

  • Jim

    Annie what a small work my name is Jim and I work in the print shop at NCB. I have ran Philly 3 times as as well 7 other marathons This year I’m training for the Austin Texas marathon in Feb I know the time factor with trying to fit family and friends is tough. I do some run commutes home either a 11 or 16 mile run which helps free up some time.

    • Annie

      Hi Jim! It is a small world! I’ll have to stop in the print shop and say hello. Good luck with Austin!!! :-)

  • Lee Friedline

    I too talk and think about running constantly. I’m wondering if this addiction is health. lol. I did philly marathon last year and am doing my second marathon this november. I need some advice on how to stop driving my wife crazy with all my running talk. lol

    • Annie

      Haha! There are definitely worse things to be addicted to, but I’m with ya on this one. Maybe do a race in some tropical locale and take your wife?? It’s hard to be mad at someone when you’re lying on the beach!

  • Tom

    Been there, done that… Sometimes you have to suck it up, Plain and simple. Example; My wife is “Casual” runner and not a marathon runner. I need to balance my personal and marathon running life. I came home from a 20 mile training run and I all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and eat… but that wasn’t fair to my wife. So I showered and went out to Target with her and didn’t mention how tired I was and that if I took one more step, I may start crying… I also can’t say “no Honey, we can’t go out Friday night, b/c I have a big training run tomorrow. Let’s be honest, this a HOBBY of mine, I am not training for the Olympics.

  • Jeff

    Chuck Norris is so tough, he wouldn’t need to train, he would just run the marathon :)

  • Stephen

    I used to be very regimented about my training and the events that would lead up to it. Long run Saturday meant the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner Friday night. No alcohol, early bed time. However, then I realized part of training for a marathon is teaching your body to be ready for the unexpected, doing more with less, and getting ready for the pain and discomfort that 26.2 miles will put on even the most prepared body. In my more recent training although I still practice my routine many times I also am more allowing for deviations as I’ve learned that a lot can happen over 26.2 miles and nothing ever goes according to plan. I think I’m a stronger runner because of it and my friends and family are happier to see me more often. Not only is it fun to let loose from time to time but maybe it’s part of the training as well.

  • http://runnerwithanappetite.com Rebecca @ Runner with an Appetite

    This is the story of my life every weekend (and even week night!). I do marathons and ultras, so training is a must. It’s even harder with ultras since take up even more training time. It’s hard to fit it all in, so kudos for you figuring out what works for you! I’ll try to think of this in the last few weeks for Philly!

    • Annie

      Thanks Rebecca! Ultrarunners are amazing….I don’t know how you do it, but keep up the awesome work!

  • Rob

    Now that my long runs are up to the 20s my wife comes on her bike – helps with pacing and gu wrappers and we can chose more interesting runs. Will probably start running to and from work soon to take care of the mid-week runs to stop messing with dinner plans.

  • JessD

    1. It was a FUN weekend
    2. Yes, she still ran 16 miles the next day
    3. My only disappointment was not getting my promised 11:00 am french toast and homemade juice from the juicer brunch Sunday morning. I’ve forgiven her since then.

    Annie, you’re awesome!!!

    • Annie

      I definitely owe you brunch! :-)

  • VA

    I enjoyed reading your article. I agree that any runner can bore their non-running friends with running.

    I am avoiding that topic for now. Also, I have canned my plans for running and I feel I do need create a balance.

  • Aunt Beth

    Very funny point of view.

    Just finished a Dragon Boat Race in St Pete’s.

    Do it all now while you are young because it only gets harder to train as you get older.

  • Alicia Burke

    Hi Annie! I work for a company called De-stress Philly. Currently we are in the process of launching a new internet television that is designed to contribute to a person’s life in a positive way. I would love to get you on the show to share some of your training tips! Please email me if you are interested. Look forward to hearing from you! Thanks.

  • Pooshie

    Best way to have a life while training is to prepare LONG in advance. If it seems reasonable to need 6 months, train 6 or even 10. This gives leeway to heal of your body needs it, get past energy walls, and gives you time to enjoy life without causing stress. I’m a healthier runner mentally when I know that skipping a weekend run to let my knee heal or just let my brain have fun isn’t going to destroy my running performance. :)