By Christina of ThatGirlRuns
“Time and Balance! One of the continuing challenges we hear from runners is finding the time to run and balance running with all the other priorities in our lives. How do you do it? What are one or two things you have found that help you find time or make time for your runs. What do you struggle with in balancing what you want to do with your running with all you “need” to do?”
This question was asked about a year ago on one of the running forums I follow. As I was starting to think about this issue I realized that it never really has been one for me. The daily run has been part of my life for so long that it is not a question of when and how, but merely another routine not dissimilar to brushing my teeth. And although I have definitely shifted the time of day for the run around many times over the years, it has not ever been a consideration to skip a run altogether because something else takes priority. Even if that means getting up at 4 am or running on an old and outdated hotel treadmill for three (!!!) hours (I am not quite ready to revisit that experience though…). Running is part of my day, it is really as simple as that.
I do understand that some runners do not enjoy the same freedom I have, be it for young children, long work hours, school, and maybe even another hobby or two. But if you are reading this chances are you are curious, if not serious about running and want to fit it into your life. And it is possible, even with all the other distractions that might have you want to quit before you even start, let alone train for a half marathon or marathon.
Take the NYC Marathon for example. According to Wikipedia, in 2006 37,850 runners crossed the finish line, only 26 of them fell under the category of “Elite Runners”, professional athletes that do this for a living. The other 37,824 finishers were just like you and me: average people with average lives, jobs, kids, a social life, but also a passion for running, a passion to push themselves and achieve something that very few even try. Legend has it that only 1% of the worlds population finish a marathon in their lifetime, although this number is not proven. It is a fact though that a very high percentage of first time marathoners come back for more. They get hooked, and so will you!
Once you commit it will be easier for you to fit all your training regular day to day routine. If you are a morning person, run before work, if you rather hit the snooze button, get out in the afternoon or early evening. Personally I am not exactly a morning person but I do prefer to run before I get too caught up in my daily routine. Therefore I do get up early and get my run in when everyone else in the house is still sleeping (including the dog, who used to run with me daily but not since we moved to the desert full time a few years ago). I’d rather get up before dawn than run in the evening. If I have track training at night I still get out for a short, easy run in the morning. It just starts off my day on the right foot and makes me feel energized.
There are a few other things you can do to integrate running into your daily routine:
“Run” errandsYou can literally run anywhere you need to go. Next time you forgot that half gallon of milk, the salad for dinner, run to the nearest grocery store. You can always walk back if the bags are to heavy to run with. Letters to mail? Instead of just throwing them in to the mailbox at the end of the driveway, run to the post office. Run to school to pick up your kids and walk back, which will get them into a fitness routine as well.
Run with your dogInstead of letting your dog out in the backyard, give both of you the gift of exercise and take him or her for run through the neighborhood, the park, or the beach. This is actually one of my favorite things to do. We live in Southern California as I mentioned before so during the summer this is not always possible, but for the rest of the year most of my early morning runs during the week are with Nelson in tow.
Break up your runIf your schedule calls for a one hour run you actually do not actually have to do it all in one go. If you have 30 minutes before you start making dinner, go for it. Then while dinner is cooking, run for another 30 minutes. When my training runs get longer and I am busy at work, or I have to do them on the tread mill when it is too hot outside, I run half the required mileage for that day in the morning and the other half right after work or in the afternoon/early evening. As long as you do the segments in the same day your body is basically getting the same benefits as if you ran all the miles in one workout.
A word about children: if you do have young children that cannot be left home alone you either need a good jogging stroller or the support of your spouse/partner/grandparents/friends/neighbors or all of the above. The support circle to look after your children for a couple of hours is especially important for your long weekend runs. Although you can do some of your training with a jogging stroller I don’t recommend doing your long runs with them. If you have membership to a gym that offers childcare you can also do some of your mid week runs on the treadmill and have your kids socialize with others in the childcare center. Negotiate well in advance with your spouse and partner so he/she will be available to spend quality time on weekend mornings and in exchange you will do the same when he/she goes golfing with hi/her buddies in the afternoon. If grandparents live close this is another good options, as few grandparents out there would refuse spending more time with their grandkids. Friends or neighbors you are friendly with are another alternative and you can always reciprocate by looking after your friends’ and/or neighbors’ children when they are in need of childcare.
Once you have a system figured out training will just become another routine in your daily life and making time for training is one of the main reasons I love to run with like minded people and friends. Setting up a time, meeting spot, and length of a run with your running partner(s) will help you stay committed and motivated easily.
But no matter how you look at it, you must make running a priority in your life! That’s part of the reason I always say “you need to have fun running”, because I truly believe that if you do not have fun, running becomes a chore and will always be in the way of other more important and/or fun things.
Do you have any tips for how to incorporate running/fitness into your lives?
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