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A College Student’s Perspective..

Posted Dec 19 2012 8:43am

Good morning from chilly Vermont.


Unfortunately the weather is just above freezing so the snow is melting and last night we received a little rain instead of snow. While I’d love to enjoy a dreamy, White Christmas in Vermont this year who knows whether it’s in the cards. Instead, I’m just excited to enjoy cold temperatures and plenty of time in front of the fireplace.

This morning’s Marathons+Moderation guest post comes from Shannon, who is currently balancing college and training for endurance events such as triathlons and marathons! I think that seeing the way a college student balances long runs and the other aspects of training provides some great ideas for those runners who think they are “too busy” to train for a marathon (edited to say those runners who need some help finding time to train for a marathon! I hope you all enjoy!

Hi everyone! I’m Shannon and I blog at Mon Amour about my life as a college student training for endurance running and triathlon events.

Gen Smallwood

I started running in April 2011, run my first half marathon in October of that same year, and ran my first marathon this past November. Running is still really new for me and I am constantly trying to learn new things to improve my training. When I trained for my first two half marathons the longest run I did was only 7 miles. There were weeks when I only ran once or twice. I signed up to run the NYC Marathon in April and vowed to follow a strict training plan and really dedicate myself to training. I trained really hard over the summer but was overwhelmed when school started back up. I was suddenly spending all my time either at class or studying and doing homework at the library. Those first few weeks back at school my training really suffered. I realized that being a college student didn’t mean that I had to give up my dream of running a marathon but rather I needed to find a new way to train. Most training plans are not very flexible and are difficult to change.

I decided to change my entire approach to training and stop trying just do whatever else is doing. Instead of planning out the entire training plan months in advance I focused more on tackling each week as it came. I took a blank calendar and wrote weekly long runs but nothing else. I ran 4 days a week but didn’t pick which days until I had a better idea of what I had going on each week. As a college student things are constantly popping up and I may have one week with hardly any work due and others where I am completely swamped and hardly have time to eat. On a schedule like this I found that what works best is to look at the syllabus for each class at the beginning of the semester and make note of the extra busy weeks. Instead of trying to put in a hard week of training during midterms I plan for a cutback week so I can focus on school and not end up missing a lot of training.


Let’s be serious, a big part of college is going out and having a social life. It can be really difficult to wake up early for a weekend long run when you go out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. One option is to choose one night not to go out so you can get your long run in. Or you could take advantage of being able to choose your schedule and plan your classes so you can do your long run on a weekday. I personally have off Fridays so I do my long run on Friday morning. I have also done long runs on Mondays since I don’t have class until 2:30. They key to fitting marathon training into a college schedule is to be creative and take advantage of the one time in your life when you have so much flexibility. This is also a good thing to consider for people who work jobs with odd hours, such as nurses or stay at home moms.

This last tip is more specific to college students but it still relevant to anyone training for a marathon or just wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle. My first two years of college I purchased a meal plan so I wouldn’t have to worry about going to the grocery store every week and finding time to cook my own meals. This worked well while I was in Pittsburgh except that I ended up gaining 5-10 pounds thanks to the all you eat cafeterias. Once I transferred and moved off campus I found myself going to the grocery store about once a week anyway. This is the first year that I haven’t had any type of meal plan and I like it so much better. Not only am I saving money, but I am in complete control of what I am eating. I eat lunch on campus on Wednesday’s but every other meal I eat at my apartment. It takes a little more time to prepare all of my meals but it is worth it to have home cooked healthy meals instead of gross cafeteria food.


Your turn! Have you ever done your long run on a week day to fit it in your schedule? Do you tackle training on a weekly basis or as a whole plan?

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