Let’s be honest, we are all really busy. So, how can you train smart and train your hardest while also managing working full time, raising kids, taking care of a house and a yard, paying bills, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry?…PHEW! The list goes on and on.
I started running in 2010 when I was in undergraduate school where I did my first marathon. I was an honors student and worked a lot to pay for school. Then I went on to get my master’s degree, where I continued to run marathons. At this time, I owned a townhouse for the first time and continued to work part-time. Then during PT school, I trained the hardest I have ever trained for a full marathon and I also did a 100 miler (not my best training though). It makes me tired just thinking about all of this! If I can eat healthy, get 8 hours of sleep a night, train 50-70 miles a week, and get through grad school, then you can have a healthy run/life balance too!
Here are some tips to help you balance your busy life and running:
1. Create a schedule: Every week, schedule out ahead of time when you are going to work, run, and get other things done. That way, you are not waking up every morning and scrambling to figure out when you are going to run that day.
2. Prep your meals for the week: On the weekends, take time to prep all of your meals for the week. Serious game changer. You will save so much time and energy during the week making meals.
3. Have set sleep and wake times: It is so important to have a solid sleep routine so that you wake up energized. This will give you the energy you need to get everything done in your busy day, along with having a solid run each day.
4. Make a To Do list: On your To Do list, write out what NEEDS to get done and what you would LIKE to get done. Once your NEEDS list is done, then put it aside and go out for a run if that is all you have time for that day.
5. Use running as a break: I did this a lot with school. I would still have a huge list of things I wanted to get done, but would go for my run in the middle of the day as a way to clear my mind and re-energize. I found that after my runs I was able to concentrate better, be more productive, and have more energy for the rest of the day.
6. Try to make your daily life as simple and efficient as possible: Take a day and be really mindful of what you are doing. Are there ways that you can change how you are doing something to make it easier and more efficient? Have your bills paid on an automatic schedule. Set certain blocks of time during the day where you answer phone calls and emails so that you can focus all of your attention on one task at a time without interruptions. Turn off the tv, put the phone away, and remove other outside distractions. This will free up extra time so you can squeeze in that run and have more mental energy to run.
7. Ask for help: This has been a hard one for me and I have been working on it for years. You do not need to do everything by yourself. It’s ok to ask for help at times so that you can exercise every day, which is so important for your physical and mental health. You will be a better person because of it, and I am sure whoever is helping you will be so grateful for that!
8. Set perfection aside: This is one I learned my first year in PT school and was also a hard lesson for me. Throughout my life before PT school I expected to be the best, to be the top of my class, and to do everything perfectly. When you have an insanely busy life and want to keep up with running, expecting perfection in all areas of your life is impossible. Take time to process through the reason you feel you need to be perfect, if it is realistic, and work towards flexible thinking so that you can be good at everything you are doing, but not perfect. That way, you will be able to stop cleaning the house or put a work project aside and say, “That is good enough,” so that you have time to run. Along with this, it is helpful to be flexible with your running training schedule. Things come up and you might not be able to follow the schedule to a T and that is ok.
9. Work with a coach: If you want to offload the time and brainpower it takes to plan out a training schedule or figure out how to structure a schedule to fit your busy life, then work with a coach. Every day, you get to wake up and just look at the schedule and know exactly what to do. Did your day suddenly get super busy and you need to change plans? Great, your coach can work with you so that each day continues to be high-quality training despite being really busy.
What helps you balance your busy life with your running training schedule?