How to Balance Running and Life

For most of us, it is almost too easy to justify missing that run due to work, family, or unexpected obligations. It always feels like the easy way out, but often leaves us feeling guilty, lethargic, and maybe even antsy from the excess energy that we have for the day. Here are some of my tips that have paid off with some extra feel good miles in during the months leading to the Eugene Marathon.

Time Management

To me, this is the most critical point of creating a balance. While it seems both obvious and daunting, it’s entirely feasible. As a student, I have an ever-changing schedule with obligations coming and going each month. The technique that I utilize is to chunk my work together, and seeing where I have an hour or two between classes. Once I isolate the times in my day that are available to get a run in, I assign a theme for that day. For example, if Tuesdays only budget an hour, then I make sure that Tuesdays are my recovery runs, and Mondays are budgeted a nice hard track workout. You can also adjust your weekend (which tends to be more flexible) according to the week days that you have already budgeted!

Group Runs

Do you live in a metropolitan or a tight-knit community? Often, group runs are an underutilized resource to get quality miles in. Not only do you have the fun of building relationships in the community, but you also benefit from having someone keep you to your word for the early morning runs, and you have a partner—or few—to keep you safe and visible during those night runs. Running communities sometimes even attend races together, and have racing benefits for a low-cost membership fee. It always adds a pep in your step on the last few miles to have someone cheering your name!


Maintaining consistency is key to balancing your Running Life with your Non-Running Life. When you consistently add in the morning run—whether that’s every morning, or every Friday—you begin to fall into your strut, much like falling into your pace in a race. Consistency will help form your new habit of incorporating a run into your routine!


This might be the redundant chirp that we’re tired of hearing, but it’s never too important to stress the importance of eating right. Back when I was struggling with my diet, one of my cross-country captains put it this way: “Just like Ferrari’s only get premium gas, make sure you are running off of the fuel that is right for you”. Find what works for you—race day, before a morning run, for an afternoon snack. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment. I find it best to experiment with new foods before easy runs, or runs that I’m not relying on for important feedback on how my training has gone. This is how I get my variety in.

Budget Sleep

I’m a college student, studying pre-med and working 20 or more hours a week, but I never ever find an excuse to sacrifice my sleep. In college, it is too easy to push off sleep another hour or two to hang out with friends or go out for a late night snack. However, I budget my time by working backwards to fit it all in. For example, if I want to get up at 6am for an early run before my 8am Physics class (which is a whole different challenge), and I know I need 7-8 hours of sleep to function properly the next day, I know that the latest I can get in bed is about 10:45 to give myself time to fall asleep. Doing this has allowed me to easily wake up and hope to my morning run! I definitely recommend morning runs too because I don’t have to worry about budgeting around my schedule that is constantly changing on me.

If you incorporate even one new thing in your life, like getting that extra hour of sleep, or working your schedule around so you can fit one more run in per week, it’ll make the training for the Eugene Marathon that much easier! On race day, these little coins in your piggy bank will make for a big change! (Pun un-intended, or was it?)

Jonathan Sisley

Location: Corvallis, OR.

I’m a 3rd year Kinesiology major Pre-Med option at Oregon State University. When I’m not running or studying, I can usually be found playing a board game with friends. Transitioning from high school to college also introduced me to distance running beyond that of the 5K, which is when I fell in love with the half marathon. In the future, I hope to see marathons and ultra marathons lined up on my racing calendar. Beyond the euphoric feeling of freedom that running provides, my favorite aspect is being a part of the supportive community that will cheer you on or catch you at the finish line!

Jonathan Sisley