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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Schedule your running time like you would any other commitment – doctor’s visits, working late on a project, pencil in your runs, too.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.