Today’s post is a very practical one, in a response to a question I’ve had a lot from friends and readers of this blog: how do you fit it all in? After the initial burst of enthusiasm, how does running become a sustainable part of everyday life, without everything else getting squeezed out?
When you go from jogger-scoffer to true-believer, and exercise becomes a fundamental part of your routine, you gain huge benefits: fitness, energy, new friends in the running community, increased self esteem and positivity… but you pay for it with quite a few hours in your week!
Take my average Saturday morning:
7.30 Begin the Running Drawer Shuffle: rifle through gear, selecting and rejecting numerous options (is it freezing like yesterday, or will an extra layer result in boil-in-the-bag-Is? Do I need leg warmers for my ankles? Is it light enough yet, or should I go high-vis? etc)…
7.45: Where are my gloves? How did my earbuds become tangled into Christmas-Tree-Light-Level knots since last night? Do I want to listen to anything at all??
7.50 Abandon idea of listening to podcast and then spend 5 minutes trying to make smart watch link to Runkeeper app.
7.55 Husband shakes head and gives me 30 seconds to leave before he goes for a run instead (he is currently still in bed but I know that he can and will beat me to the door, fully dressed to run, if I malinger longer).
7.56 Leave house.
8.26 Return, stretch, drink glass of water, whip up pithy comment for Runkeeper, post to Facebook.
8.30 Repost to Facebook as app still whirring in a circle.
8.50 Stretch a bit more, as blatantly spent most of stretching time mucking about with Runkeeper.
9am Get dressed.
And this is a simple short run, with no worries about when to fit in a meal! Doing this regularly can take a big bite out of the day, and if you’re running three or four times a week, it’s an issue with which you have to grapple. Here a few simple suggestions for reducing the surrounding stress of fitting in your runs, so you can do it, and enjoy it:
Plan: my main approach is to remove most of the time-wasting by planning your run the day before – what will it be (intervals, slow, long etc), where will it be, have a rough idea of the weather and therefore your gear, and decide whether you’re going to use any technology for it. I usually seem to have some techy issues, but rarely listen to music or the radio, so that simplifies things somewhat.
Try and go early: the sooner you run, the sooner it’s done. A lot of the faff surrounding a run for me is thinking about how it impacts the rest of the day (especially in terms of when I can eat!) and everyone else in my life. If you get up a half hour before anyone else, you can generally get out of the door and home again before the day has really started.*
Relax: a short run is better than no run, and unless (and even if) you’re an elite, being flexible with your routine is okay. Having done this for a little while now, I’ve realised it’s possible to be a runner without pretending I’m Private Benjamin. There are ebbs and flows to your running life, and you won’t always be training super hard. Yes, seize the opportunities, and yes, pursue it hard – but… Running is your friend, and if you’re wise, it can be your lifelong companion. So chill out a bit, and enjoy it.
Do you have any other tips to share for maintaining running in a busy life? I’d love to hear about what’s worked for you – leave a comment!
*I appreciate that for those with family members under 4yrs, this may mean a laughably early start…