When I first became a mom, I had a tough time balancing my new parenting responsibilities with work obligations and personal time. Going for a run seemed to be the first thing to get cut from my list of priorities. After all, I was now responsible for another human being! But, over time, I realized that not running as frequently as I had in the past meant that other areas of my life were suffering. I was more stressed-out, cranky, and not as productive at work. I missed having that “me time,” which was even more critical now that another human being was dependent on me. For my and my family’s well-being and happiness, I realized that I HAD to find the time to run on a more regular basis.
I know I’m not alone in my struggles to find time to run. Lack of time is one of the most common reasons why people give up on running or just aren’t able to run as much as they’d like. But it’s possible to make some small tweaks to find more time to run.
Below are some time-saving tips that I and other runners have used to carve out more time for running. Although some of these strategies may not work for everyone, I’m sure you’ll find a few that can help you claim some more running time during your week. As running becomes more of a regular habit, you’ll find that you’re no longer saying, “I just don’t have time to run.”
1. Schedule your runs.
Look at your calendar on Sunday and plot out when you’ll run that week. As much as possible, try to stick to a consistent schedule from week to week. You don’t have to run at the same time every day you run, but if you start setting a regular running schedule, you’re more likely to get in the habit of running and stick with it.
2. Run on Mondays.
I try to run every Monday and I always feel like I’m starting off my week on the right foot and setting a good pattern for the rest of the week. It’s so motivating and satisfying to check something off my to-do list so early in the week. Feeling that sense of accomplishment gives me a boost of motivation and confidence that gets me through the week and inspires me to get some more runs in.
3. Run in the morning.
Research shows that runners who run in the morning are more consistent with their running than those who try to do it later on. Finding time to run in the evening always get tough when work and home responsibilities start popping up and it’s easy to just blow off your run. I love getting up before everyone else in my house (on some mornings, not every morning!) and getting my run in. It’s very satisfying to accomplish something so early in the morning and it gets me motivated to tackle the rest of my day.
4. Delegate. Accept the fact that you can’t do it all and look for ways you can farm out other tasks. Reassess the ways things are done at home and work. Can your spouse cook dinner? Can the kids help with the laundry? Can you order things online that you’re spending time shopping for? Are you doing things that don’t actually need to get done? Do you have to attend every meeting you’re invited to at work?
5. Learn to say, “No.” Take a look at your commitments and decide which ones are unnecessary or unimportant. Sometimes saying no to others means saying, “Yes!” to yourself.
6. Plan your running outfit the night before.
Lay all your running clothes and gear out the night before. Check out the weather forecast so you’re prepared for the conditions. You won’t be able to blow off your run because you couldn’t find a specific pair of shorts or piece of gear. You’ll start getting dressed for your run before you even have a chance to consider not doing it.
7. Run right after work.
Bring your running clothes to work and instead of hopping in the car or on a train at the end of the day, go for a run first. It’ll be a great way to de-stress after a long day and you’ll get the added bonus of missing the bulk of rush hour traffic.
8. Get some help.
If you have kids, work it out with your significant other so that you can have coverage to fit your run in. Or do a kid swap with another parent so you can both get in some running time. Many gyms offer babysitting, so you can get in a treadmill run while someone is watching your children.
9. Don’t think all or nothing.
Some runners skip planned runs because they don’t have enough time to fit in the run they were planning to do. If you have 30 minutes, then run for 30 minutes! It doesn’t matter if you originally wanted to run for an hour. Getting in a run of any time or distance will help keep you in the habit of running.
10. Set running dates.
Plan to run with a friend or running group on a regular basis. Knowing that others are counting on you to be there will help you keep that commitment to run.
11. Run with your kids.
If you’re a parent, bring your kids along. When my kids were younger, they loved getting pushed in the jogging stroller. If you have older kids, get them to run with you or run around the soccer field while they’re at practice.
12. Run while you wait. Rather than cramming in an errand while your kid is at soccer practice or his piano lesson, go for a run. An added bonus of this approach is that you’ll discover new and interesting running routes in different neighborhoods. I always have extra running clothes and shoes in my trunk so I can sneak in a run if I have unexpectedly some extra time while shuttling my kids around to their activities.