On any given day, I run through a litany of reason not to fit in my scheduled work out:
It’s cold/hot (weather is my favorite). I didn’t sleep well, I’m tired. It would be fun to catch up on Amazing Race with the kids. I’m STARVING. Ugh, the commute is going to take so long. Do I have any clean sports bras? (Who am I kidding; the “clean” part doesn’t really concern me).
Similarly, the night before every scheduled run, I spin through my list of schemes to fit my workouts in, in a more pleasing way: If I get up 45 minutes early, I can run half in the morning, and then, run half at lunch. If I get up 30 minutes early, I’ll only have to run 5 miles after work. If I skip showering this morning, I can run 4 miles. I’m going to wake up at 4 am and run all the miles!
It all sounds so great, until the alarm goes off. And then I reset it, and fall back into my warm bed for another blissful hour. Or two.
The truth of it all is, I’ll fit it in, when I can, if I want to. Between working full time, raising 3 kids (ranging in age from oh-my-god-how-do-I-own-a 14-year-old to she’s-so-cute-let’s-make-more! 6 year old), a husband, and all of the things that come with those things, training is something that is easy to let fall to the wayside.
I know I’m not unique in this struggle, so here are some of the tricks I use to stay motivated and keep up with my schedule, and maintain some balance:
- Accept that there is no trick – there’s not going to be a magical extra hour where you can fit your run (or whatever) in. You have to make the time for it.
- Prioritize. I value grown-up time as much as the next person, but sometimes, I have to skip out on happy hour with the girls to get my run in.
- Schedule your running time like you would any other commitment – doctor’s visits, working late on a project, pencil in your runs, too.
- If you’re running easy for the day, it’s okay to double up on your workouts! Run a few miles in the morning, and few at lunch, and you’ll be free to veg in the evening.
- Find a routine that works for you, and STICK TO IT. For me, it’s evening running. I prefer running at night, and although it cuts down on the family time 2 nights a week, I’m not a zombie after work the rest of the days, like I am when I run in the morning.
- Be flexible. Sometimes, it’s just inevitable that plans get wonky. There’s no need to panic, just go with the flow, and make it up if you can.
- Don’t be a slave to your training plan. If your day calls for 8 miles with intervals, but a sudden kid-commitment pops up and you can only squeeze in 5 miles… do 5 miles. The day isn’t shot because your plan needs to be tweaked.
- Make running a social event! Find a running buddy, and stride out your miles together. Discuss pace beforehand, so there are no surprises, but don’t be afraid to ask faster friends to join you – they might like the easier effort. I try to schedule my tempo runs on a day I can run with my husband, since he’s faster than me – it’s like date time, but with fewer margaritas.