How I fit it all in – Six simple tips for runners on a busy schedule

Jason Hakes is a 2016 Ambassador for The San Francisco Marathon. He shares his personal thoughts about running on his blog at Restlessrunner.com.

It’s a Wednesday morning and I am up with the sun. I am dressed in my running clothes, sipping some coffee and mentally preparing for the day. It will be mere moments before the first activity of my day begins. And in a snap, it starts:

Tiny footsteps come shuffling down the hall – my four-year-old daughter is awake. Minutes later, my two-year-old daughter is calling my name. The moments that follow are a whirlwind of activity: the younger one is half-dressed and running away from me laughing while I’m trying to convince the older one that a Halloween costume is not appropriate for a school day in April.

Somehow, just like every weekday morning, I have managed to wrangle two little kids out of the house and into my car. After their respective drop-offs to Day Care and Preschool, I’m off to my next event: My run. On this day, I’ll be running before I head into work. After my run, my day is filled with work meetings, projects, and meetings about projects. Then I’ll head home to take care of the evening activities at home.

Every day is a busy day but my schedule is filled with the things I enjoy: family, work and running. I have to make sure they all play well together and it’s not always easy. While many of us lead our own busy lives in different ways we’re all trying to blend a busy schedule with training for the SF Marathon. I thought I’d share how I can train for a marathon on such a busy schedule:

#1 Schedule your runs

Schedule Your RunsJust like scheduling meetings, play dates, events with friends, etc. scheduling runs ahead of time helps me stick to the plan of getting my run in along with everything else. I spend some time on Sunday evening planning out when I think I’ll be able to get my runs in during the upcoming week. Most of my runs happen at different times each day depending on my schedule. Some runs happen before work, most happen during lunch, a few happen after work and I reserve one day on the weekend for my longest run of the week.

#2 Prioritize your runs

Training plans tend to have a mix of tougher runs (for example: long runs or speed sessions) and easier ones. I tend to prioritize my runs so I make sure not to miss the ones that are the most important to try to finish that week. If I miss an easy run in order to make an important appointment, I’ll try to slot it in later if it works, but I try to never miss the runs that help improve my training the most.

#3 Get Creative with a Plan B

Sometimes the days don’t always go as planned. Meetings get moved, kids get sent home with a cold, or I forget my shoes (yes, this happens!). I try to have a Plan B if my scheduled run gets bumped for something else. It could also mean that my run gets replaced altogether by a strength training session at home in the evening, a walk break during work, or pushing one of my kids in a running stroller for some fresh air. Whatever the adjustment is, I have to be flexible with my busy schedule with some sort of alternative when things get mixed up.

#4 Pack ahead

Pack AheadEvery evening before I head to bed, I pack accordingly for the next morning. If I’m running in the morning, then my bag is packed with work clothes to dress into when I’m done. If I’m running at lunch or after work, my bag has my running clothes in it. There’s a shower at my office so depending on when I’m running, I’ll make sure I pack the right essentials to get cleaned up after my run. Whatever I’m packing for, I make sure I have the right snacks prepared to fuel up before my scheduled run which helps me make sure I’m fueled up appropriately. Packing ahead helps me get out the door faster in the morning – plus it gives me more time to find that missing kid’s shoe that always eludes me whenever I’m in a rush out the door!

#5 Get up, Stand up

Distance events require an extensive amount of time on one’s feet. Running isn’t the only time I try to collect some time on my feet. I take walk breaks from my desk at work, I move my computer to a stand-up setting for some time on my feet. Anything to help me get out of sitting-mode is valuable especially on days when I can’t get out for a run as long as I would have liked.

#6 Keep the routes close by

As much as I would love to drive to the most ideal location for each of my runs, I have designed a number of courses close to the front door of my house or the back door of my office building. With routes close to home and work, I save valuable time by not traveling too far to get running. I also make sure I have a few variations on each route so I don’t get bored doing the same old thing every day.

While my days require my mind and body to be in so many places at once, I’ve always enjoyed the balance of running and everyday life. I take pride in being able to squeeze it all in and I hope you do too. The San Francisco Marathon is going to be a great event – good luck in squeezing it all in and enjoy the training journey!

1 Reply to "How I fit it all in – Six simple tips for runners on a busy schedule"

  • comment-avatar
    Al
    April 10, 2016 (6:57 am)

    Jason,
    Sounds like you’re a single parent – hooray for you! Reading your post has made my so called ‘busy’ schedule seem so insignificant compared to yours. You helped me come up with some ideas to fit in my running into my schedule. Good luck to you as you prepare for SF, I ran it years ago and loved it.
    Al…