WHEN AN official told Sarah Sellers after last month's Boston Marathon that she had placed second, the 26-year-old amateur assumed she was runner-up in her age group—not the entire race. Training for a marathon requires discipline and time—a precious commodity for someone working four 10-hour shifts a week at a hospital. Sellers, a nurse anesthetist in Tucson, would wake up at 4 a.m. to run. Then she'd train after work. Balancing work, exercise and sleep is a challenge—but Sellers knows what it takes.
1 LIMIT YOUR OPTIONS
The inventor of the snooze button obviously wasn't keen on morning exercise. Sellers avoided the snooze trap by crafting a strict weekly training plan, ensuring she wouldn't vacillate every morning about whether to run. "When your alarm clock goes off, you just tell yourself you don't get to decide," Sellers says.
2 DON'T LET YOURSELF CRASH
After a long day at work, the couch sounds a lot better than the gym. Sellers, who prefers morning to evening workouts, resisted that temptation by heading straight from the hospital to the track, avoiding the comforts of her house. "Once you go home, it's superhard to drag yourself out," Sellers says.
3 TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR FATIGUE
Though Sellers sometimes struggled to motivate herself after work, she saved her hardest workouts—like speed training—for evenings. "It gives you a mental advantage in competition if you're used to doing your hard workouts sometimes when you're mentally and physically kind of tired," she says.
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HOW TO TRAIN DURING YOUR WORK DAY
Training doesn't have to stop at the office. Here are Sellers's tips on using sedentary time to set yourself up for success.
Use idle moments for mental prep. "When you feel yourself getting nervous for a workout, just visualize yourself succeeding."
2. GET UP
"Just make yourself stop sitting." Jog up stairs, walk around the block—do something on your feet.
"If I don't eat during the day, I'm ravenous when I come home," Sellers says. Make sure you're eating smartly during the day—and don't forget to hydrate.