Ultramarathon Training Tips – How to Train While Working

This week was somewhat better for me in regards to my training.  But pretty much everything else has been a comedically timed series of unfortunate events.  I’ll spare you the woe is me sequence, but here’s the highlights.  Work has been pretty bananas, because we have several new contracts coming out at the same time.  Our bed frame broke.  Then AC in one of our cars went out.  And we’re still in the process of closing on a house, so I’ve had to submit the same financial documents at least three times.  And all of this is happening while I’m homeschooling my 1st grader, ultramarathon training for two races, and working full time. 

Which is something that I have wanted to talk about for a couple of months.  When I talk about the ridiculous endurance races I’m training for, I often get a few of the same questions.  After why and how comes, “when do you fit in work?”  Because I do have a very regular, very corporate job that has absolutely nothing to do with running.  And I certainly don’t have a perfect recipe for making it all work, but after a few years of endurance running, momming, and working simultaneously, there are few ultramarathon training tips I have for any runner trying to make all the things happen.

Speaking of all of the things, I feel like I ran all of the miles this week. On Saturday, I ran 24 for my long run, and I realized that this is the longest training run I have ever completed. I’ve done a 100 mile week, a 24 miles in 24 hours challenge, and a virtual marathon. But outside of a virtual race, I’ve never run 24 miles straight through in one morning. So training is getting pretty serious.

We also had a few family things happening this week. On Friday, we got to spend a couple of hours hanging out with a family that has kiddos around our sons age. It was nice for him to have a few hours of playing with people who aren’t twice his size and living in the same house as him. Saturday, my mom came down to hang out for Labor Day, so we went out for pizza and stopped for ice cream on the way home. I mean, after 24 hours I think it’s mandatory that you eat a pizza and chase it with a milk shake.

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As much as I love having all of these things to do, and I feel very fortunate to see friends and family, it’s not easy squeezing in regular life.  And even as introverted as I am, I still find myself completely overbooking my time on a real regular basis.  My husband isn’t a huge fan of having our weekends consumed with all of the things I try to work in.  Thankfully he’s not afraid to put the kabash on some of the ridiculous things I try to do, and tell me to go to bed instead.  But I’m not independently wealthy, unfortunately, which means I can’t stop working just because I want to run a 50 mile race.  So how do I make it all kinda sorta work?  With a whole lot of caffeine, flexibility, and some of these ultramarathon training tips and tricks.

Ultramarathon Training Tips – Training While Working Full Time

Now full disclosure, I am very blessed and fortunate to work for a company and VP who are very supportive of my training and goals outside of work.  I also have an incredible husband who could make everything in our household function for the rest of eternity without much input from me at all.  Every runners situation is going to be a little different, and I don’t want to ignore the fact that a lot of working moms don’t have time flexibility at work or a husband who won’t burn down the house making dinner.  So while some of these tips may not be feasible for your lifestyle, I do hope that one or two will be beneficial for just about everyone.

  • Sleep In, After the Race – One of the jokes that I’ve heard about 10,000 times since I became a mom who runs marathons and ultramarathons is “did you just give up sleeping?” And honestly, the answer is absolutely not. I am not a pleasant human being to be around when I haven’t gotten enough sleep. And by not pleasant, I mean that I have to constantly remind myself that jail is a real place with bad coffee to keep myself in line when I’m tired and cranky. I get about 8 hours almost every single night, for everyone’s safety. What I did give up, though, is sleeping in. I have a hard time remembering the last time I woke up when it wasn’t dark outside. 6 am is “late” for me. Even on days where I don’t have work, I set the alarm and get up before even the landscapers because it’s the only part of the day that I can actually devote myself 100% to running. If I sleep in later, I miss out on more time with my family, my entire day feels like it’s dedicated to my running habit, and in Texas I would be battling offensive temperatures 9 months out of the year. It’s not easy waking up before the rest of civilized society on a Sunday, but if I want to train the way I need to, I generally only sleep in the day or two after a race.
  • Break Up Runs When Needed – My body and sanity thrive when my weekly mileage is high, but you can only fit in so many miles before work, even when you do wake up while everyone else is sleeping. In order to get in all of training, there are times that I have to break up runs to fit them around my work or family schedule. It’s not uncommon at this point that I might run 8 miles before work, and then finish up my last 2 miles at the end of the day. It’s not exactly ideal, and I would probably be fine without those last couple of miles, but 70+ mile weeks just don’t happen before 8am. At least not at my paces.
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  • Capitalize on Holidays – Most people see three day weekends on their calendars and think about vacations, extra hours of Netflix, or getting to have a few extra drinks on Sunday night. When I see holidays on my calendar, I think about big mileage. Again, sleeping in just isn’t something that happens very often around here, even on holidays. If I have an extra day off work, you can bet I’m going to move my longest run of the week over to the day that I’m not working. This let’s me get a longer run in on a day where I’ll have more time to recover, and won’t feel as pressured to hurry up and finish to get to work. I might even get to sleep in until 6am AND get in a good, long run! Weird things excite runners.
  • Use PTO When Possible – When I have a particularly grueling week or workout planned, I often use some PTO to help make it happen. For example, when I set out for my 100 mile week, I took mornings off and only worked half days to give myself the time to run that much. If I look at my training calendar and see that one of my workouts is going to be say 15 miles long, I would probably see if I could take a half day off work. Now, I don’t have unlimited PTO, so this isn’t something I do every week or even every month, but I have definitely requested time off to support a big training week or workout when I have the time available.
  • Master Lunch Time Strength Workouts – When you’re running all the miles, and working 40+ hours a week, it’s easy to lose motivation to do much of anything else. Especially in the evening hours, when I tend to lose steam in my energy levels. To avoid overuse injury, though, strength workouts are essential. To avoid unintentionally going days without stepping foot in the gym, I usually plan to get my strength workouts in during lunch. It’s a free hour in the middle of my day, and it ensures that my workout doesn’t interfere with anything else I might have going on. You do have to be somewhat strategic about making sure you still eat though, because no one wants a hangry runner mom terrorizing the neighborhood at 2pm.
  • Ask for Halp – If I’ve said a million times, it still isn’t enough. Chasing big goals is something that is a million times harder when you try to do it alone. Having a support system, even a tiny one, is pretty freaking crucial. Especially if you’re trying to balance work, kids, family, and running. And as difficult as it used to be for me to ask for help, I found that I was at least 30% less murdery on weeks where I asked my husband to take care of the grocery shopping. Or told him that I really needed to go to bed early on Friday before my 20 mile run. And asking for support and help has allowed him to be a part of this process of chasing big dreams. So don’t be a martyr. If a friend or loved one asks how they can support you, give them honest opportunities to show up for you. Even if it just means meeting you 10 miles into your long run with a few gummy bears and a smile.

This Weeks Workouts

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Total Miles: 78.12
Total Workouts: 4
50 Mile Training, Week 15
How the Runs Felt
Most of my runs this week felt pretty good.  The weather wasn’t fully cooperating with me, but that’s not something I’ve quite figured out how to control.  This was a very high mileage week for me, and I’m definitely looking forward to a little recovery before my trail race on the 19th.  Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I was able to get in some good trail runs at pretty comfortable paces.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, I finished up my miles in the afternoon on the roads.  I was really thankful for the cloud cover that rolled in on Wednesday.

Thursday’s workout was tough, but I kept the 5 min pushes a little more controlled, and wasn’t completely wiped out for the rest of the day like I was last week. We had some good thunderstorms roll in throughout the end of the week, and fortunately I didn’t have to postpone any of my runs, but it did mean that my Friday 10 miler and my Saturday long run were on the roads and greenway. Not the worst thing in the world, but 24 miles on hard surfaces was tough on my body. Although, I will say that being able to get in that long of a long run in under 4 hours did not suck.

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Most of the week was hot and humid, thanks to the storms.  The trails in the San Antonio area are generally closed after storms, since a lot of them are considered nature preserve areas, and hikers and runners on wet trails can mean deteriorated trails.  I think all of the runners in Texas will join me in looking forward to next weeks cool front, and getting a break from the soul sucking runs of summer.  Who knows how long the cool weather will actually last, but I will soak up every minute that I can.

How the WODs Felt
My body felt much better this week than it did last week.  I was able to work in a little more barbell into my workouts than last week, though in all honesty I haven’t felt as motivated to lift in the last couple of weeks.  I kind of predicted I might feel this way as my mileage got higher, and I guess I wasn’t wrong.  I know that my lifts are getting lighter and feeling heavier than they did a couple of months ago.  Honestly, I’m ok with the temporary loss of strength, since I know I have a solid base and I’ve never had any issues rebuilding after a big training block.  For now, the focus is more on keeping my body healthy and preventing overuse injury.

I will definitely keep strength training in my program, but I will probably continue to keep the weights light until I finish up this 50 mile program in October.  After a couple of months away from CrossFit, I am definitely missing some of the community aspects of working out in a box.  I do feel like the company has made a lot of positive changes, and I think it is a possibility that I might consider shopping for a new box after we move into our new home.  I know I’ll have a lot more questions for potential boxes than I used to, but I’m happy to think that I might be able to find a box that aligns with my personal values and that I feel good supporting.

Related Post: CrossFit , Systemic Oppression, & Why I Left

What I’ve Been Listening To
This week, I’ve really been looking forward to fall and the spooky season.  Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I love the months of September and October.  All this to say, most of what I’ve been listening to has been related to paranormal stories, murder, and anything true crime.  I stumbled on a new podcast called We Saw the Devil, which is mostly focused on true crime that I’ve been binging. 

What Went Well
My knee is finally fully healed!  I didn’t bust my face on any of my runs this week, which is always a plus.  Despite some pretty strong storms, I was still able to get in all of my runs without issue, and my body didn’t break down with all of the mileage.  I also ran my longest solo run outside of a virtual race this week, which I thought was pretty cool.

Related Post: Running Injury During Training

What Went Shitty
My stomach was NOT a happy camper after my long run on Saturday.  I’m not sure if I ate something that pissed it off, or if holding a faster pace for a longer run was just not something my stomach has been used to.  Most of my long runs have been on trails, which are challenging, but mean a much slower pace.  Who knows, but I was not loving the results Saturday afternoon.

Plans to Improve Next Week
The next two weeks, I’ll be prepping for my 50k trail race.  I plan to start to lower my mileage a little bit towards the end of next week, and try to get as much rest and recovery as possible.  This might be somewhat difficult since we’re planning on moving next Sunday, but I’m gonna try!

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