Well, friends, September is nearly through, and we’re deep into autumn, darker mornings and early evenings. Fact.
Somehow throughout the long and lovely summer I forgot how quickly the light and the temperatures change, and those warm sunny evenings dwindle. The edges of the day are being steadily eaten up, and late / early runs are increasingly dark and chilly.
Fitting in those runs becomes a matter of discipline and motivation more than ever: not just to lace up, but to actually get myself out of the door whilst it’s still light enough to see my shoes. Day after day, I am the scheduling equivalent of the grasshopper who played all summer, and then has no food left when winter arrives. (Except my ‘playing’ is more mucking-about-at-a-keyboard based than it is chirruping and, well, grass-hopping.) As a freelance writer working from home, I have amazing freedom and masses of autonomy. It’s great – but it requires a will of iron, unless playing Matching with Friends and folding laundry are your major life goals.
I need to get organised. Again. The truth is that it isn’t just the physical, calendar seasons that change – our lives do as well. Each new school year brings a different combination of workflows, family dynamics and priorities, and it’s crazy to think the systems which worked last term will flow seamlessly into this one.
So, still in running clothes from this morning’s woeful missed window of opportunity, I sat down and thought through the Three Ws, to get my grasshopper running shoes on…
The Three Ws
WHAT: What are my aims for running this season? (training for a race, improving speed / stamina, getting out every day, running just for enjoyment, running solo or in a group… etc)
WHEN: When do I benefit most from running? (early morning before breakfast, mid morning, just before collecting the kids from school, early evening or late…)
WHICH: Which days are good ones for fitting in a run? (do I prefer lots of discrete activities slotted into a day, do I work better when I know I have a run in the middle of a long stretch of time at my desk, or does that break up my flow…)
Thinking these through helped me figure out what’s important to me about running in general, and the pattern of the days in my week. Right now, these are my aims:
- To maintain a regular but quite relaxed running ethic: 3-4 times a week, with the emphasis on discipline (ie not slacking off) and slightly increasing my speed, but not my distance
- I’m not training for any races
- I still mostly want to run alone
- Lastly, I want to schedule in one weekly run which will be shortish and slowish, on a Saturday, in case any of my kids want to come along
- The earlier I run, the better – but as I am privileged to have free time in the day, it’s not really fair to claim the prime pre-breakfast training spot, preventing my husband getting an early swim
- I could run late, but often feel sluggish in the day and the burden of fitting it in starts to weigh on me…
- …so post school-drop off, mid-morning seems the best option for good family balance and my sanity
- With those timings in mind, my week lends itself to running mid-morning on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, plus an extra run on a Saturday afternoon if I can rustle up company
- They’re now in the calendar as time bound, recurring events, so I can schedule around them. Hurrah!
In the past my weekly plan may have looked pretty different to that outline, but this feels like a good fit for my current season. I’m claiming back calm from the chaos, building a sustainable, enjoyable program, with just enough challenge to keep it interesting.
What are your current running goals? And did the 3W questions help you figure them out? I’d love to hear…