Work, family time, hobbies—it can be so hard to fit it all in and exercise, let alone at a competitive level. And yet, on social media, we often see people who really do seem to be able to do it all. How do they make the time? Well, we caught up with exactly those people—and asked. Here are some tips from time-crunched athletes who train during the work week.
You might catch Mike Wardian, this ultra runner and all-around remarkable guy, running a marathon dressed as Elvis or on his daily run commute in the Washington, DC area. Mike holds a number of world records including the fastest time for 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days and fastest time for all the World Majors (marathons), among others. Beyond being an elite runner, he’s also a full-time father and businessman who still finds time to give back to his community.
How does he do it all? Mike recommends tracking everything to help with time management and identify gaps in his efficiency. “I try to use my allocation of time as efficiently as possible, and that is what I call ‘invisible training.’ By that I mean, think about ways you can meet your obligations and responsibilities while.” He takes this practice and dedication to the next level with his nutrition and by testing with InsideTracker to stay healthy and recover between training sessions and events.
Mike’s approach: Integrate your training schedule with your work schedule. Run or bike to and from your job. Wake up before the rest of the family as to not miss out on quality time, or, if possible, get out at lunch time. It’s not about the number of hours in the day, it’s about accessing the hours we have.
You might know Crystal Seaver as an inspiring and down-to-earth endurance athlete on Instagram. But not only does she crush 50- and 100-milers, she does so while running her own business and being a stepmom. So, we checked in to see how she balances work, life, and endurance training.
Most importantly, she says to focus on one thing at a time and break down tasks into manageable pieces. She recognizes that training for a rigorous event is a challenge and recommends that those doing so modify many parts of life, like choices around food, social life, and free time. She says, “the overall goal is always wellness, but when too many changes happen at once, it’s going to be hard to sustain.” She emphasizes making a series of small changes rather than one big, drastic change.
Crystal’s approach: Determine your goal, and break it into small, actionable, short-term chunks. Then prepare a back-up plan so small deviation doesn’t throw you entirely off-course. And always make the priority to enjoy the process.
Meet Amelia Boone: obstacle racer, endurance athlete and InsideTracker user. She’s a three-time winner of The World’s Toughest Mudder, Spartan Race Champion, and three-time Death Race Finisher with many other podiums and victories in between. Along with crushing it on the race course, Amelia works full-time as a corporate attorney at some of the biggest firms in the country.
Her biggest piece of advice to those looking to take on the weekend warrior lifestyle? “Recognize and accept that you aren’t going to be able to train like a full-time professional athlete and probably shouldn’t.” She notes that, “while you may have the time to put in the training, what you are missing out on is recovery, because whether you recognize it or not, the full-time job is still a source of stress.”
Amelia’s approach: Err on the side of lower training volume, and cut your workouts 10-15 minutes short. Then, devote this extra time to strengthening, “pre-hab,” and mobility work.
Next up, meet Chris Powell. He’s a professional pilot, a husband, a friend, and an IRONMAN. He acknowledges this balance is a tough one: “achieving work/life balance, being an active participant in a marriage, and training annually for one of the world’s longest endurance events is a puzzle that I struggle to put together every day.”
He emphasizes that commitment to the goal is crucial for success. And that doesn’t just mean training hours—fueling before and recovering after workouts is a critical part of committing to your body’s needs and wellbeing. Regular blood tests with InsideTracker help him to identify exactly what that means. He says that the proven scientific knowledge from his results helps him to trust his training and keeps him pushing through those hard times—even when the idea of extra rest sounds so attractive.
Chris’s approach: Within the constraints of a work schedule, identify periods of time that are suitable for training and commit to them: mindset, rest, fuel, recovery, all of it. With a demanding job (his can take him to five cities across all time zones in a single day), it’s important to meal prep and food log to make healthy decision-making as easy as possible—particularly in moments of stress or exhaustion.
The bottom line
Finding a healthy balance between work, family, and play is a challenge that many struggle with daily—even the ones that look like they have it all together. Here’s a summary of advice from people who train on a time crunch:
- Integrate your training schedule with your work schedule—run or bike to and from your job.
- Wake up before the rest of the family as to not miss out on quality time
- If possible, get out at lunch time.
- Determine your goal, and break it into small, actionable, short-term chunks.
- Prepare a back-up plan so small deviation doesn’t throw you entirely off-course.
- Err on the side of lower training volume.
- Cut your workouts 10-15 minutes short and devote this extra time to strengthening, “pre-hab,” and mobility work.
- Within the constraints of a work schedule, identify periods of time that are suitable for training and commit to them: mindset, rest, fuel, recovery, all of it.
- Make moments of stress or exhaustion easy to stay on-course by meal prepping and food logging.
- Always make the priority to enjoy the process.