How to Run a Half Marathon (or accomplish other big things) When You Have No Time

By Dustin | Time Management

How to Run a Half Marathon When You Have No TimeI’m so proud of my wife Bethany.

Last weekend, she completed the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon.  That’s 13.1 miles even though the furthest she’d ran before starting her training was 3 miles.

And she didn’t just finish the race – her results were quite impressive.

She did so well in fact that I’m a little embarrassed to share it with you. I’ll share that story at the end of this post.

For now, let’s take a look at what lead Bethany to this weekend and why it’s important to you and your marriage.

60+ Hours of Training for a Mom of Three?

As you might imagine, running 13.1 miles in the hills of St. Louis is no small feat.

In fact, the preparation included workouts four times every week for the past 16 weeks.  Yep, Bethany’s been running 3-13 miles at a time four days a week since December (also, St. Louis is cold in the winter – she’s tough like that).

And get this – she didn’t miss a single workout!

Keep in mind that we have kids that are 8, 5 and 2 1/2 years old complete with the many, many, many activities and plenty of sicknesses that come with them.  Needless to say, we’re a very busy young family and Bethany does more than her fair share on the home front.

Wait, What was Dad Doing?

If Mom’s spending hours every week training for a race, then Dad must be picking up the slack and making up for these lost hours, right?  Not so much.

Dustin after Half MarathonHere’s the kicker that you may have guessed from our photo – I ran the race, too!

I also trained on the same schedule for the past 16 weeks.  And since our 2 1/2 year old is not the least bit able to care for herself, our training was never at the same time, and we never hired a sitter to train.

So, this goal we shared ended up taking us more than 10 hours each week to train for, and that doesn’t count sessions of stretching, icing, foam rolling or general malaise after a really tough training session.

This was 10 hours inside of an already busy weekly schedule.  In fact, I’m sure our lives are much like yours.

I have a full-time professional career as an engineer plus I do some teaching at a University, we have lots of children’s activities, we’re active in our church and community, and we like to hang out with our friends and family as much as possible.

We also have some other time commitments that aren’t as typical – I run two small businesses (here at Engaged Marriage and over at Fit Marriage), my Dad was very sick and passed away in the middle of our training, and I’ve also been working on an awesome new project that I can’t wait to share with you (more on that in a minute).

Put simply, we’re busy folks. 🙂

Seriously, How Do You Find the Time?

It seems like I’ve been asked this question a hundred times the last four months.

Bethany After Half MarathonThe honest answer is that finding time to do what matters is never easy, especially at this stage in life as a Family Leader.

If you take a leadership role in your family (and I bet you do if you’re reading this), then you know exactly what it’s like.

Your schedule is crazy, you always put yourself last, and you spend too many days feeling out of control, stressed and maybe even a little overwhelmed.

Well, getting control of your schedule and creating more margin in your life is not easy, but it’s totally worth it.

You may not want to run a half marathon, but I bet you would like to have more time in your life to do what matters most to you.

This could be as simple as spending more time with your kids, dating your spouse as often as you’d like, starting a side business, losing weight, getting your house organized, paying off debt, getting closer to God…you get the idea.

It doesn’t matter – the process is the same.

It’s Not About the Running – It’s About the Time

I lead a pilot program earlier this year (yes, while training for this run!) with 16 other busy Family Leaders.  These 16 individuals had 16 different outcomes that they were looking to achieve during our 30 days together.

However, they all had a few things in common.  They felt like their schedules were already full and they didn’t think they had the control or margin needed to achieve anything new (even if they really wanted t0) – BUT they all decided to trust in a process.

I’m proud to say that this group made it happen, and I continue to hear about their ongoing success stories several months later.

From paying off debt to writing a book to starting a piano lesson business to getting a home happy and organized to rekindling a relationship with Jesus, these 16 people from all corners of the country and the world enjoyed some exceptional achievements.

But their biggest accomplishment wasn’t in their specific outcomes over 30 days – it was in their renewed sense of control and powerful new tools that will allow them to continue doing what matters most for them and their families for the rest of their lives.

I’ll share more of their stories at another time, but I wanted to highlight them briefly here because the process they followed is the exact same thing that Bethany and I used to train for our half marathon.

No, they weren’t running in the snow like us, but they did follow the same step-by-step plan that I’m going to share with you.

Introducing Time to THRIVE

I got the idea for the pilot group late last year after I kept getting asked how I got so many things done.

I had a process that I’d used for several years that I would go to every time I started to feel stressed out about my schedule or when I decided to pursue a new goal (these often come at the same time for me).  Bethany had adopted it as well.

I knew the process worked for us and with other coaching clients in the past.  But I wanted to refine it, make it super simple to follow and ensure that even the busiest Family Leaders would benefit from it.

The process follows six simple steps that conveniently spell the acronym THRIVE.  Here’s an overview and a little commentary of how we used it to prepare for our recent training demands:

1. Target

This is simply focusing in one specific area that you want to improve in your life.  If your struggling to decide where to start, that’s very common and we have some great tools to help.

In our case, we both settled on improving our physical fitness.

2. Harness

This second step is all about harnessing motivation and getting your mindset right.  Most people never do this, and it causes them to quit before reaching their goals (New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?)

In our case, our Harness steps looked very different.  We both wanted to get physically fit, but we the reasons Why (and our motivations) were not really related.  This is a great example why it’s important to follow this process individually – even when you’re married and following the same workout plan!

3. Roadmap

This is where the rubber meets the road and things start to get really practical.  In this step, we set specific goals for weekly actions that we’ll take along with monthly measurements and longer-term performance goals.

For Bethany and I, our weekly goals (actions) were identical and related to our training plan.  Our monthly measurements (running speed and body weight) were also similar.  Our performance goals were focused on the race…more on that below. 🙂

4. Identify

This is the most important step, yet it can’t be done alone or you will fail.  This is the nitty gritty of breaking down your schedule to identify where you’ll actually find the time to do the weekly goals you set in step 3.

Your grandpa or boss may call this Time Management, but the way we handle it goes much further, is less boring and it just plain works better.  Doing this step will give you back at least 30 minutes each day.

This was a biggie for us with all we have going on in our lives and the fact that we’d have to find time to train separately.  This was actually the first time Bethany made the effort to track how she was spending her time, and I think she’s hooked!

5. eVolve

I LOVE this step – it’s all about becoming super-productive.  From more basic (and vitally important) tools like batching tasks, email management and focused work time to a choose-your-favorites menu of productivity tools driven by technology, completing your eVolution will give you another 30 minutes each day to do what you love.

I am a productivity junkie, so not much changed for me on this front.  Bethany incorporated some new task-batching practices that freed up a nice chunk of time for her without sacrificing any time with the kids (or me!).

6. Empower

In this step, you learn how to have long-term success and continue to build healthy habits that will empower you for life.  After all, achieving a goal in 30 days (or however long you desire) is awesome, but you truly change your family tree when you master accountability, plug into supportive communities and begin to teach those you love how to get more from life.

In our case, this has simply become how we live.  The great thing is that as you repeat this process a few times, it becomes second nature and completely repeatable – and teachable.  The time crunches and stress still come, but you know how to deal with them so you can get control and push ahead to achieve new things.

I know that’s a pretty brief overview, but I obviously can’t cover what is typically 30 days of step-by-step instruction in a single blog post.

The good news is that I put together some training that you can use to get control of your busy schedule and gain an extra hour every day to do what matters most in your life.

And with your new time and fresh mindset, you’ll be able to achieve any goal that you’ve had on the back burner for too long.

CLICK HERE to check out Time to THRIVE for yourself.

Time to Thrive

I Can’t Believe I’m Making This Public.

So…about those race results…

I had set a goal for myself of finishing the race in under 2 hours.  Bethany, being much less Type A than me, didn’t have a specific time in mind – or at least she didn’t share it with me.

With 15,000 runners participating, the race started in different flights so we never saw each other during the race after we kissed and headed for our respective starting areas.  The next time I saw Bethany she was sucking wind at the finish line.

Thanks to the wonders of iPhone, our results were posted and viewable right away.  I was pretty happy to see I had finished in 2:00:06 – six (damn) seconds over my goal time.

Right above my time, I see 1:59:41 – and Bethany Riechmann next to it.

In her first half marathon, Bethany finished in the top 15% of all females and she beat me by 25 seconds!

It turns out that my time put me in the top 25% of the field, so at least I have that going for me. 🙂

We’re both training for several more races this summer, including my first triathlon.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments about the goals you’re currently pursuing or maybe have been putting off for too long.

Keep in mind that it’s not about just getting more things done each day, but doing more of what matters to you.  Your family and your marriage will thank you for making it happen.

P.S. – Don’t forget to check out Time to THRIVE for Family Leaders!


About the Author

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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