One of the biggest challenges many runners face when training for a marathon is being able to put in the time necessary to adequately get in shape for the big race.

The first step is registering for the marathon. For a few years, I fell out of shape, because I wasn’t consistently training for any race.  It wasn’t until I decided that I would run the Chicago Marathon in 2011, that I resumed my regular training (in the Fall of 2010).

I always remind friends and those that I coach that you can’t fake your way through a marathon.  If you want to finish, you’re going to have to train.  Since the last 4-6 miles can become an exercise in pain management, the secret is to have a good marathon training plan that consists of running or working out 6 days per week.

Following are a few ways that I ensure I get my runs in:

1) Make running a priority.

This is critical.  I put running or working out daily at the top of my “to do” list.

2) Schedule your workouts in advance

If you make running a priority, then you will figure out a way to get your workouts into your schedule.  Take a look at the week ahead and plan when you will have 45 minutes to an 1.25 hours to workout.  You might need to run early in the morning on weekends when you have a busy schedule with your family.  Oftentimes when I’m on the road with business travel, I workout prior to going to dinner with my co-workers.  They understand that I won’t be a “happy camper” until I get my workout in.

3) Remember why you’re running

Running is your personal time.  It’s important to you because it can keep you healthy, in shape and able to perform effectively.  Running daily gives me more energy for all of my life’s activities.

4) Run with friends

Plan at least one run per week with friends.  Sometimes it’s on the weekends.  Othertimes it may be a track workout during the week.  During the winter when the weather is lousy, it can be hard to motivate yourself.  However, getting out is much easier when you have made a commitment to run with a group beforehand.

5) Bring your running gear when you travel.  Don’t give yourself an excuse why you can’t workout.  Besides, when you travel, it gives you the opportunity to see new things in different cities.  When I travel to places like Utah, I view it as a chance to get in some altitude training.  Last year, I got slightly lost in Park City, UT.  I turned an easy 4 mile jog into a 7 mile odyessy that ended at a parking lot on a mountain road at 10,000+.  So much for my easy day…..