We all know that training for ultra events takes time and commitment. In my experience endurance athletes are a committed group. However, what happens when things don't go to plan? Work gets stressful, a family member falls ill and needs care, a (grand) baby arrives, a wedding is announced. Suddenly the time we set aside for training is greatly reduced or simply not there.

Life happens and is often a bit messy, trying to carry on with the plan regardless simply does not work. For many of us, even if training and doing events is important, it is not the only important thing in our lives, so how do we get the right balance? Here are a few tips to help you manage.

Plan training around you life not in spite of it

Some aspects of our lives are predictable and with this in mind we can plan training around significant life events. Carefully choosing events so that the training and event can happen in known quieter times can help.

Having a calendar where you can mark key events can help. TrainingPeaks now have a feature where you can make a note of times when your availability to train is either limited or non-existent so you (or your coach) can plan your training around these times.

Things that limit training might not just be physical events which mean you are unavailable, but events that sap your energy so you have less energy to train. For example a busy period of work usually involves increased stress which can mean you have less energy to train.

Identify boundaries

Everyone is different and what you prioritise is up to you; so long as it fits in with your values and with the lives of the significant people in your life then those priorities are right for you. Identifying your boundaries around training and other aspects of your life will help you decide how much of a priority training and your event takes in your life.

Good ways to do this are:

Discuss with significant others your plans and the impact it will have on your life. This includes times when you will be training and therefore absent but also times when your will be tired from training and need to rest.

Identify what you and significant others are willing to sacrifice for your training and event

Identify what you and significant others are NOT willing to sacrifice for your training and event. This might be a simple list of things that will ALWAYS take priority over training (e.g. illness of a child, death of a family member).

Plan times when you will be training and doing events and agree with others that these times are acceptable

Be Flexible

Flexibility is a key life skill which helps us work with others and adapt as the situation change. Training is no exception. I often say to athletes the training plan is a suggestion; you are the one who knows how your body feels when you wake up and what time you have on that day.

Some flexibility so that you can meet your goals even if it's not quite in the way you originally planned will help you keep motivated and positive about your training rather than getting stressed trying to carry on with a plan that is not working for you at that particular time.

Being flexible doesn't mean that you disregard the plan, rather it's about thinking about the aim of the plan and thinking about how you can achieve that aim with the time and energy you have available to you.

Key Workouts

Identifying your key works can help you be flexible whilst maintaining the main aim of your plan. In many training plans there are workouts which will add to your base and key workouts which are the minimum you need to do to meet the requirements for your target event.

When you are time crunched or short on energy, prioritising these workouts so that you have the time and energy for them and accepting that some others you may have to cut short/abandon will help you keep progressing without trying to do too much.


Reviewing your training progress is a good way to keep assessing that you are still (more or less) on target. It can be reassuring that while you might not be completing all the suggested workout, you are still progressing and meeting key goals.

Of course a review can also be a time when you realise that you are not able to meet all the key goals and that you may need to change your targets to fit with what you are able to achieve with the time and energy now available to you. This might mean deferring an event or changing to a shorter event. In my experience, although changing the targets is not easy it usually results in better training and less stress.

Discuss your plan with a knowledgeable other

Discussing your training and how it needs to fit into your life can help you get some objectivity and an idea on how to make the most of the time you have to train. If you have a coach they will help you review training and plan training around your life so long as you share the things that can impact your training with them.

Are you struggling to plan your training? Why not book a free 20 minute consultation with no commitment to see how we can help you?


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Clare Pearson
Post by Clare Pearson
June 28, 2024
A professional endurance coach since 2018, Clare Pearson has worked with endurance cyclists and runners to help them achieve their goals. Clare specialises in endurance events, she loves to work with people to help them succeed at their own goals; whether that's a personal best, a completion, a podium or better emotional health. Clare will work with you to design a plan that fits in with your day to day life and helps you get the most out of each session.