I have been on a bit of a rant lately about the actual time cost of running. I was talking about it in a magazine article I wrote and in my last guest blog post for the San Francisco Marathon. I asked for feedback and promised an example in more detail of my own "time investment" in total for being a runner.
I'll cite an average week right now in my marathon training.
I run 30-40 miles a week right now. At my back-of-the-pack pace, that's 6.5 to 8.5 hours running.
I have put in an intense strength training program with the impact my body went through of lack of tone from having a baby 6 months ago, so that's 3 hours a week.
Getting ready for a run (pulling out clothes, getting changed, assembling gear, etc.) is easily 15 minutes each run x 6 run days a week = 1.5 hours
I often will run with someone on the weekend and can spend anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 hours in commute. All other runs I do from my front door basically.
I routinely during this marathon training epsom salt bath about 4 times a week, 20-30 minute soak, so about 1.5 hours.
Stretching = 1 hour a week. With a history of plantar fasciitis and Achilles tightness, I keep injury at bay with about 10 minutes of stretching EVERY morning when I wake up before a foot ever leaves the bed and touches the ground.
I have very thick hair that would normally only get washed and dried 3 times a week, but with running 6 days a week, that's 6 days of hair washing with the heavy sweating in the Texas heat. So for those 3 extra days of washing, drying, and occasional non-ponytail days that need some styling help, it adds up to easily 1 hour.
I see the sports chiropractor once a week during major running season and/or training cycles. Unfortunately, he's 45 minutes each way from my house. Between actual chiro work and commute, it's 3 hours a week.
I additionally will spend 0.5 hours a week in icing.
Therefore, my totals in hours:
Running - 6.5 to 8.5
Strength Training - 3
Cross-training (bike, swim, walk) - 0
Commutes for runs - 0.5 to 1.5
Run prep - 1.5
Recovery(epsom salt bath, icing, chiro, massage, stretching) - 6.0
Additional grooming - 1.0
TOTAL = 18.5 to 21.5 hours a week. That's over 2 nights of sleep! That's about 2.5 to 3 hours a day!
Of this, only 40% of the time is actual running.
Other Runners Give Feedback
What I'm finding from the feedback is that a lot of runners don't spend much time at all in recovery activities. Maybe I'm unusual - I have fibromyalgia so I value recovery work so much more because I've seen the positive results. But maybe I'm not just being super conservative in my time spent in that area because for the last 5 years, I've done 24 half marathons, had 2 babies and ran through one pregnancy, ran 2 25Ks, ran 2 trail races, and haven't had a sidelining injury during that whole time. Derek's one of those runners who spends a minimum 4-5 hours when NOT in race season on his running (8+ hours in training season) and zero recovery activities aside from pointing out he's good about getting the sleep his body needs (something I need to be better about).
Kevin is a great example of what a difference pace can make on the total time commitment. He's also right now at 30 miles a week, but this is at about an 8 minute per mile pace average, so it's 4 hours a week, to my 7.5 hours a week for 30 miles! The couple minutes per mile add up quick!
Michelle was smart to point out what a big time commitment races can be! Race day commute, commute to packet pickup or an expo, getting to the race really early to get reasonable parking, even reading all the details on the race website to be prepared, they all take time!
Some, like Kristin T., are very active people and not just in running. She runs about 8 hours a week right now, and spends another 9 hours a week in cross-training and yoga (not counting 2 hours total commute per week for yoga!). While she said housework and other things get moved to the back burner during training season, I can't imagine that cross-training doesn't make her such a stronger runner!