So last night, I accompanied my husband to a vaguely-work-related type dinner at a very fancy steakhouse in Dallas. In the middle of the meal, it came out that the woman across the table from us was an avid tennis player, so I shared that I was a runner. The other ladies at the table then got interested in our conversation, and asked that question that I get at least once a week:
“How do you find the time?”
And the answer is: I don’t really know. Truth be told, I really don’t have time to run. I own my own business, work a part-time gig that requires me to be out of the house, take care of 2 kids, and serve as the house’s chief cook and bottle-washer. (And laundry mistress, and toilet scrubber, and playroom organizer…and…) And yet, I find myself fitting in anywhere from 15 to 20 miles per week – which I know is not a huge amount of miles, and certainly not anything that’s going to get me to the Boston Marathon, but it works for me, my schedule, and the various aches and pains I’m dealing with from week to week. Emphasis on it works for me. What works for me isn’t going to work for everyone. Hell, what works for me right now isn’t going to work for me when the kids get out of school in June.
But when people ask me this question, they usually want an answer. So over the years, I have come up with a few tips for fitting running into a busy schedule. I’ve decided to share them here. These suggestions may help you, or they may be garbage for you. Like I said, these are my strategies.
1. Run early. I am currently at a job that requires me to be in an office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – the majority of the hours that my kids are at school. So I can’t get out on the road in the mid-mornings like other people do. So, I get dressed in my running clothes first thing in the morning and eat a pre-run breakfast while helping my kids get dressed and pack their lunches.Then, the moment I step back inside the house from school dropoff, I’ve got my Garmin on and I’m out the front door. After I get back, I have about 45 minutes to shower and get off to work. It’s hurried, but the miles are out of the way first thing, and then I get a nice endorphin boost to help me be energetic at work.
2. Run late. This is the strategy I usually switch to after the kids get out for summer vacation. My kids are too big (and easily bored) to take them in a jogging stroller with me, so I will wait until my husband gets home in the evenings and put in my miles then. I really don’t like this routine as much because it tends to be hotter in the evenings than first thing in the morning (this is Texas, after all!), but it gets the job done.
3. Get creative. When Mark is going to be super late getting home in the summers, or when he is out of town, I will sometimes improvise by logging miles at the gym on the treadmill. They allow up to 2 hours in the child-care center, and that’s usually plenty of time to log a mid-distance run. Again, not my favorite because I hate the treadmill and I tend to run slower on it. But again, I’m “out there” running, and it accomplishes more than sitting on the couch.
4. Let some other things go. Sometimes, there is simply no way to fit running into your life without letting other things slide. Do not get me wrong. I am not advocating tossing aside the important stuff – family (and sometimes, work) should come first. But I would bet 98 percent of us have some other things in our lives that we could scale back on a bit without too much damage. For example, my bathtub is impossibly dirty right now. I probably could have cleaned it this morning instead of running, but I chose running. This past weekend, I also got up early on Sunday to log some miles, even though it would have been nice to sleep in. It’s all about priorities. You have to decide if running is important enough for you to put it ahead of other things. If you put it dead last on your list, you probably won’t get to it very often.
5. Plan ahead. If your life is even remotely busy, you’ll probably have to do a decent amount of scheduling on some days to make those runs happen. Say you’re an evening runner, and you have a business function after dinner. Can you get up super duper early that day and run? Go to the gym midday? Do a shortened version of your run and arrive at the function late? See what you can come up with.
6. Realize that your plans won’t always work out. I have seen many, many people give up on running because they got waylaid by one thing or another. One day off turned into two, two turned into four, and so on. Don’t fall into this trap. It happens to all of us. And it sucks when it does. But you slip on those running shoes the next day and you deal.
I hope this helps someone. What are the tips that work for you?