A blog by runners. For runners.

How to find time to run


Between early toddler wake-up calls, sneaking in freelance work whenever I have free time, and feeling generally zapped from the daily grind, finding time for workouts is hard these days. For others, it might be spending long hours at a desk job or perhaps traveling frequently for work. And still for others, maybe there’s a newborn requiring constant care or some other personal reason that there just doesn’t seem to be time left in the day for running or other exercise.

Through enough of my own ups and downs, eventually I came to the conclusion that being an adult is hard. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can seem an elusive task. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Be realistic.
When I was single and in my early 20s, I had what now seems like all the time in the world to exercise and care for myself. As the years have passed, so has a majority of my free time. I have found that when I set unrealistic goals (like, say, running 50+ miles a week), I get in a major funk and end up feeling like a failure with each passing day and missed workout. And missing workouts gets me in this bad loop of missing more workouts while feeling sorry for myself.

To remedy this situation, I try my best to look at my life as a whole — with all its fun parts and other, less exciting responsibilities — and, from there, come up with training goals that will keep me from spreading myself too thin. For me, this has meant changing my training days from 5-6 to more like 3-4. I don’t love training less, but I know that I can always reevaluate when circumstances change.

Be creative.
Sometimes all it takes to find more time in the day is turning the page upside down and viewing everything — meetings, deadlines, chores, projects, etc. — from a new angle. Write down everything you do, from obligations to the fun stuff, down on a piece of paper. Try to see what things suck the most time and then evaluate them based on importance (whether they need to be done, they’re something that is relaxing or fulfilling, or — perhaps — are just wasted time). You may be surprised at where your time is going or find that you actually do have 30 minutes to spare.

Be organized. From there, look at your realistic training goals (miles per week, maybe) and see where you can fit it in. Schedule your activity just like you’d schedule your other work or events. Try your best to stick to giving yourself the time allotted, too. When things come up, unless they’re somehow required — try explaining that you’re busy at a certain time. You don’t have to say it’s because you’re “selfishly taking time to run” — because, honestly, there’s nothing selfish about taking time for yourself every now and again.

This way, I make my workouts count because I’m giving them a slot on my calendar. They are officially part of my day. And when I do find myself with a rare bit of free time, I can squeeze in extra activity as a bonus.

Be resourceful.
It’s also hard when life gets busy to see different areas where help is available. If you have children, that could mean gym childcare, a jogging stroller, or a neighbor who’s willing to watch kids (make sure to offer back, of course!).  If you’re work is overwhelming, take that coworker up on his/her offer to help or consider asking about a longer lunch to make workouts a more regular part of your routine. There are a lot windows of opportunity that can open up if you just ask. The worst you can hear is a “no,” but then go back through this list and try Plan B!

Written by  Ashley Marcin.