Marathon Training Tips for College Students

While I’m away on vacation, I asked you guys to submit topics for blog posts. Today’s features Shannon Mulcahy, a junior in college who is training for the NYC Marathon! I can’t imagine what it must be like finding the time for long runs with class work and busy social calendar so I asked her to share her tips for my college readers who are thinking of doing the same. Enjoy. Follow Shannon’s blog, twitter and Instagram if you too are training for a marathon this semester.

As I’m sure you all know fall is right around the corner which means that schools are already back in session or starting within the next few weeks. I have always loved the start of a new school year because it represents fresh starts, plus I love back to school shopping. My biggest challenge this semester is going to be fitting in a full course load (17 credits) with training for the New York City Marathon on November 3rd.

Capital 10 miler 2

I was a competitive swimmer growing up so juggling training and school has always been a part of my life. There were times where I was training 18+ hours a week plus taking AP classes! In high school it was much easier though because swim practice was always at the same time. I saw my friends at school during the day and then went to practice every evening. Week to week everything pretty much looked the same.

In college, however, there is so much more freedom. You get to pick your class schedule, unless you run for your school you have to decide when you are going to train, you even get to decide if you even want to go to class each day (I recommend you go).

For me the hardest part about training for such a time consuming event plus going to school is figuring out how to have a social life as well. I never want to feel like I am missing out on something, which can lead to going out with friends to a party instead of writing that psychology paper or doing that 7 mile run on my training plan. An important thing to remember is that everybody has (or at least should) do homework and study for exams. If you have to miss out on one social event the chances are that your friends probably also have to miss one at some point during the semester.

Dc 6

Since none of my friends are endurance athletes I have to be creative to be able to get in my training while not missing out on too much fun. This means doing my weekly long runs on Fridays. I may not be able to go out on Thursday night but lets face it, the parties are always better on the weekends anyways, right? I also live by myself (which is not for everyone but I totally love it), which makes waking up early to go for a run a whole lot easier. I often hang out with friends in between classes or in the evenings so heading out running in the morning works out great.

But who wants to get up early to run in college, you might ask. Well it’s all relative because for me waking up early to go for a run means heading out around 8:00-8:30. This might still seem early but compared to waking up at 5:00 to run before heading to work it’s not so bad.

Harrisburg marathon

Something else I really like doing is inviting friends to run with me. While none of my friends are training for a marathon, a few of them do like to run. When I have shorter easier runs on the schedule I’ll invite a friend along to make the time go by faster. This way I get to see my friends plus they get a firsthand look at how important training is to me. The friends that have run with me are much more supportive and rarely try to get me to skip a run to hang out with them.

The best advice I have is just to figure out what works for you. My first semester at school that I trained for a half marathon it took me a few weeks to figure out how to make everything work. Experiment a little and don’t be afraid to get creative. Do your long run on a weekday if you need to so you can still go out with your friends on the weekend. Maybe join your school’s running club if they have one. Figure out what works for you and roll with it. Don’t be intimidated if it doesn’t look like everybody else’s schedule. It’s yours for a reason.

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