Continuing answering 3 questions that I’m commonly asked with:
When do you have time to run?
For the impatient reader: I don’t run as often as you think.
The constant struggle and creative solution searching. There is always something to do and someone needing attention. How does one juggle between it all to know what to do next? If an event comes up, work needs more time, or race is around the corner, it can create stress. Our bodies don’t know the difference between stress and a hard workout, so avoid stress. Yup. That easy. Life will throw stress at you so just accept it. Now learn to roll with it.
The first step is laying the foundation and knowing what the priorities are:
Whenever the universe throws a curve ball at me … find more work, having to drop from a race, kids up all night sick … go back to the priorities. If work required of me to be on 60 hours a week, I would find different work. Weekends and evenings are for priority #1. Plus, I don’t live to work, I work so I can live. That simple. When I have to make a choice, I go back to those 3 items.
With that foundation set, you may really be wondering when I have time to run. The first two items can take up a really large part of the schedule … and they do. When the sun is up, priorities 1 and 2 dominate. My wife and kids have been mostly supportive of my running goals. Wife tolerates it because it balances me and kids find it interesting. I haven’t made it to the point yet where I go for a long run and my 9 year old accompanies on bike, but we are getting close. He asks frequently and my concern is that we get 2 miles out and he wants to turn around. Being able to combine family and running in some way would be ideal.
I have been fortunate to be doing more consulting work over the past 3 months that allows for a flexible schedule. This means dropping the kids off at school and heading to a trail for a 2-3 hour run. Those are the days!
Now don’t get me wrong, fitting long distance running in has not easy. It does require some life adjustments. For instance, most of my running is on the treadmill. This is out of convenience and getting a consistent pace. I like to watch tv so being able to move and do that is ideal.
Of course I haven’t really said “when” I do all this.
Unless I am registered for a race, I generally don’t get out for a run on the weekend. That is against the norm for a distance runner. In the life of a distance runner, weekends are when you do your 3+ hour run. That doesn’t really work well with priority one.
During the week I get up at 4am and hit the treadmill. Yup. 4am. At least 4 days a week. I don’t have a weekly goal, but a weekly time goal. I want to be on my feet at least 10 hours a week. Whatever that adds up to is great.
A goal like that is loose enough to help reduce stress as well. I don’t have to force in 50 miles a week to be successful. I just need to sit down with a calendar and find 10 hours a week to be moving on my feet. See the strategy here?
Getting up at 4am also means going to bed earlier. During the week when I’m up early, I have a hard time staying away past 8p. That gets tricky with priority one as well. If one of the kids had a nap during the day, very good chance they want to stay up until 10p. There is coffee involved during the day, but it is key to listen to the body. It is also logical that if you are working the body harder, the body will need more rest. Granted, I’ll run a marathon and get up early the next morning to do a short run, but sometimes I like to keep the body guessing.
There was a time when I said sleep is overrated. I still believe that up to a point. Just like anything else, your body can be conditioned and taught. Still, even a car needs to stop and be refueled at some point.
So when to run … my advice is to not stress over the number of miles, but schedule in time on your feet. Even if this means taking 30 minutes of your lunch break each day to walk outside, you will start to see a difference. The old saying is “walk before you run” for a reason. You will also start to see other benefits from feeling better, being healthier, thinking clearer, and being more productive. Spend a week writing down what you do each day … a time journal. You may find yourself watching more tv then expected, moving piles around, or always thinking about the future. Live in the now and enjoy what is around you. Running is a way to get out there to see views and have experiences that you just can’t do from the couch.