How to fit running into your busy schedule
Want to take up running this year but not sure where you'll find the time? Get help from the experts
Life’s unexpected curveballs can easily scupper your training plans. In fact, research shows one-in-five Brits blame lack of time (and lethargy!) for not exercising at all. We’ve asked a panel of experts how you can stay on top of your goals when life is crying out for you to let them slide.
The Hurdle: Family Commitments
If you’re struggling to squeeze a run into your busy family life, it’s time to think outside of the box.
Data from Bupa shows that running mums spend more quality time with their children. And not only that, 65 per cent of running mums find it easier to juggle everyday tasks compared to 43 per cent of non-active mums. ‘Use family as a positive by getting your partner or children involved, and encouraging them to train together,’ suggests Tom Coates, personal trainer at PureGym.
Book in Runs
Research in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology shows people who diarise their training sessions are more likely to stick to their programme. ‘Those of us who record runs tend to exercise more frequently than those who don’t, so are far more likely to see results,’ says Dean Hodgkin, personal trainer at Ragdale Hall.
Run to School
Ditch the car and encourage your children to get fit by scooting or cycling to school. ‘That way you can run alongside them at a leisurely pace (or faster if you’re running late) and then run back home, too,’ adds Alison Beadle, pre- and post-natal fitness author at livewellbhappy.co.uk.
A recent poll by the British Heart Foundation confirms that women would rather run as part of a group, with almost half confirming that group running is preferable to jogging alone. ‘Consider joining a mummy running club, in which people run with buggies,’ suggests Beadle.
The Hurdle: A Demanding Job
Don’t let your job define your fitness levels. With these nifty notions, you’ll clock that training session, whatever the agenda.
Two-thirds of British workers take less than 20 minutes for lunch. Not only is this not good for your health, but it’s also bad for your productivity. ‘Running in your lunch hour provides a change of scenery from the office that can help you de-stress and re-focus,’ points out Brook Fenton, Proskins running expert.
Run To Work
Try running to and from work. Park the car a few miles away from work or get off the train a stop earlier and run into the office. Not only will you save money and keep fit, but research from the University of East Anglia shows that active commuters are better able to concentrate than workers who travel by car.
Even if you’re training for an endurance race, speed sessions are worthwhile workouts, too. ‘With interval training, it’s easy to fit in a shorter run if need be,’ says Coates. Try squeezing in a run by doing three lots of one-, two- and three-minute efforts, with 30 seconds’ recovery between intervals.
Stick Up Reminders
If you’re still struggling to swap work for miles, try hanging a medal from your computer says Hodgkin. ‘Even keeping a spare pair of trainers in the back of your car, so that you see them every time you open the boot, can be quite persuasive.’
The Hurdle: A Busy Social Life
One of the benefits of running is that it’s a solo sport but swapping days out for miles on the road can be a bit lonely.
Running doesn’t have to be a lonely activity. Social training apps such as Sprinter, Garmin Connect or Strava are a fantastic way to connect with other runners. ‘With 100,000 new members signing up to Strava each week, athletes of all abilities are joining the community so that they can track and compare their activities to help motivate them,’ explains Gareth Nettleton, director of international marketing at Strava.
Run with Friends
Far from detaching you from your social group, running could be a great way to bring you together. ‘Research shows that training with a friend leads to greater adherence to your workout schedule,’ explains Hodgkin.
If you’re finding it difficult to balance weekend runs with social events, get into the habit of running before the day starts. ‘Waking up earlier for a run is tough at first but, by training in the morning, you’re giving yourself the rest of the day for other commitments – not to mention starting the day in a positive way,’ says Coates.