Think you haven’t got time to train? Fitness blogger Rachael Power shares how she fits into her schedule and how you can too.
Work at the best of times can be quite mentally demanding, no matter what you do. And even if you class running as part of your ‘down time’, it’s undoubtedly just another thing you will have to schedule into your already busy life. We’ve all got so many demands on our time – children, work, family, study and other commitments or stressful situations – that require us to be in different headspaces for each.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned along the way to make sure you can fit running into your life.
Organisation and consistency
To fit in running around work, some good old-fashioned self-discipline is needed. Whether you work a standard 9 – 5 or sporadic night shifts, you can find a way to fit running in as long as you are organised and consistent. Have a training plan and take some time to adapt this to fit your work schedule. Prepare for runs the night before by leaving out your drinks, snacks, clothes and shower gear, and do everything in your power to get yourself laced up and out the door. Having an end goal, such as a race, can be a real motivation in this department.
Night shifts and unusual working hours
Before we get on to before-work, lunchtime and after-work runs, let’s stop and consider those without regular daytime hours in their jobs. It may be a lot more difficult to motivate yourself to go for a run if you have just come off a stressful night shift, and it might also be a risk going jogging by yourself at night. One way you could potentially get around this however is by joining a 24-hour gym where you can jump on the treadmill any time of the day or night. Schedule runs for your days off and maybe even consider running to and from work, if you live close enough and it is well lit. Alternatively, grab a short jog before your shift starts during the day. It’s a great stress reliever and getting to work fresh from a run and shower is always a great feeling.
The before-work run
Before-work runs in general are always a good idea. Of course, there will be those that can’t complete these runs, for example if you have children or care for someone who needs you in the mornings. But if you can, going to bed earlier the night before and getting up earlier the next morning to go for a run has so many benefits. I find that I arrive at work a lot more ‘switched-on’, and love munching on healthy snacks during the day to keep me alert. In addition you’ve then got the whole day to yourself, and a healthy dose of smugness at being part of the 6am run club.
The lunchtime run
For some, this will be difficult, but with practice you can get it down to a fine art. Provided you work somewhere with decent showers, the lunchtime run can be a good way to pack a 3 – 5k run in while still waking at a normal time and keeping your evening free. Bring your lunch in that day, pack some shower gear and off you go. For those who never take their full lunch hour this can be a great way of making sure you get your proper break that day. If you don’t want to wash your hair, invest in some dry shampoo as it can work wonders.
The after-work run
This is undoubtedly the easiest of the three runs. Whether you go home and run from there, or run home, go to the gym and treadmill run, run with friends, with a club, etc., you’ve got the freedom of the evening (if you don’t have children or other commitments, that is!) to relax and jog. However this does mean you cut your evening short for much-needed post-work relaxation. Ideally, a running schedule for a 10k would incorporate 3 – 4 runs per week (if that is realistic for you) that are a mix of these to maximise recovery and relaxation time (and so you don’t feel like your life is just work-run-work). But as everyone has a different situation, ultimately it’s up to you to plan, organise and commit to a training plan that works around your work. Just remember to block out some R&R sessions, too.
Some weeks, you may just not have the time or inclination to stick to your plan. Work might throw a few curveballs, childcare might be an issue or you may pick up a cold. In these situations, it’s best to listen to your body and rest, sort the issue out and get back to running after. You won’t lose your progress with just a few days off.