Running is more than just a hobby or a sport. While it is first and foremost a form of physical fitness, and a great way to lose weight, tone muscle, build stamina and endurance, and improve cardiopulmonary function, it's so much more.
Running is a way to reduce stress and clear your mind. It's a way to boost energy and release mood-enhancing endorphins, as well as adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. In other words, running makes you feel fantastic.
It's also great for improving your confidence, self-esteem, and self-image. Running makes you feel strong and attractive. It helps you to reach your potential and become the best version of yourself. It can be done alone or in a group, so it's also an opportunity to socialize.
With all these amazing benefits, you might wonder why you never seem to find the time to run. After all, most people who consider themselves runners are lifelong lovers of the activity. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.
You either love it and you feel free and alive when you run, or you suffer through it because of some unfounded belief that it's the best form of exercise (wrong - if you're not a runner, go find a physical fitness option that's right for you...it does exist). Of course, just because you have a passion for running doesn't necessarily mean you can clear space in your schedule.
It's true that many modern adults are busy beyond reason. However, you do have choices about how you spend your time. You make them every day. Finding the time to run is a choice, and there will be benefits and consequences.
You may have to give up something else in the process, but you can find the time to run if you really want to. Here are a few things to think about if you just can't seem to get it together and find time to run.
When you look in the mirror, there may be a few things you want to change. Rare is the person who is 100% content with themselves all the time. Exercise is not just a way to lose weight or build muscle - it has benefits for physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
If you can't find time to run, there's a pretty good chance your schedule is overloaded. This likely means you're suffering at least a modicum of stress, and potentially a lot, perhaps paired with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and whole host of unpleasant sensations.
Your physical condition and level of activity have a marked effect on your psyche, and on your life. When you find the time to run regularly, even if you only run a couple of miles at a stretch, a few times a week, you're going to start seeing changes.
Your body will respond to running with increasing stamina. You will improve cardiopulmonary function and literally breathe easier. You could lose weight. You could gain muscle and burn fat. You could change your silhouette. Stress and anxiety could melt away, you could sleep better at night, and your energy levels could increase significantly, helping you to better cope with everything else in your life.
What you're going to find, if you keep at it for long, is that running also feeds your spirit. It's more than just the endorphins. You'll gain personal satisfaction and joy from doing something good for yourself, from putting yourself first for a change. You'll feel capable, confident, and valuable as a result. If you're having trouble in other areas of your life, running can give you the chutzpah to face them head-on.
Does this all sound too good to be true? There's only one way to find out - you have to give it a try. Once you decide to become a runner and embrace the many benefits the activity has to offer, it's time to figure out how you're going to make time to participate.
You have a lot of commitments, otherwise you wouldn't have trouble finding time to run. If you have a schedule, you need to set aside time to look it over, and if you don't have a set schedule, it's time to make one so that you can better manage your time.
Either way, an audit of your daily routine is in order. If you want to "find" the time to run, you have to start by looking for it, and a schedule is the most basic tool to accomplish this goal. First, you need to determine how your time is currently spent.
A job and familial obligations can both take up a lot of time. You might not be able to cut your hours at work. After all, bills have to be paid. However, if your job is sucking the life out of you, it might be time to consider a couple of possibilities.
One is that you could work less, but you choose not to. Sure, your boss is content to let you work hours of overtime on salary, but are your superiors really forcing you to work more, or could you decline? If you're being overworked through no fault of your own, perhaps it's time to start looking for a position that's more in line with not only your professional goals, but your personal ones, as well. (admittedly in today's environment that can be easier said than done, but worth considering)
What about family obligations? The truth is, your family loves you and wants you to be healthy and well. After all, if you're not taking care of yourself, you can't take care of everyone else, at least not for long.
I can already hear the excuses. My son has guitar lessons and martial arts. My daughter has soccer and piano lessons. I have to cook. I have to help with homework. I have to drive everyone hither and yon. Is that true? How much are your kids really demanding and how much pressure are you placing on yourself?
Is there an alternative to free up some time in your schedule? The place to start is with family obligations that you've taken on out of some form of misplaced guilt. So, your mom needs a ride to her weekly kaffeeklatsch and she can't drive herself? Tell your dad to he'll just have to miss a few minutes of football, or set her up with an Uber account.
The kids need rides to sports practices? Make a deal with other parents so you can rotate driving duties. If all else fails, you can always get up a little earlier, hand over homework duties to your spouse when he/she gets home from work, or even go jogging on your lunch break.
What if you're dealing with young kids? In truth, this is even easier. Jogging strollers let you take your little ones along for the ride. If you've got more than one or two, look for a gym that offers childcare services on-site.
Ideally, you can find ways to trim obligations enough so that you don't have to cut into valuable sleep time in order to run on a regular schedule, but it all starts with surveying your calendar and budgeting your time.
It can be truly difficult to make yourself a priority in your own life, but once you start to get honest about your obligations and the way you spend your time, you'll start to see that there are many ways to scale back current activities in order to make running a priority. If you can't cut back on work hours and you're unwilling to take time away from your kids, you'll have to make changes elsewhere.
Here's a place to start: how much time do you currently spend on media? There's a pretty good chance you don't even know how many hours each day you spend watching TV, browsing online, and fiddling with social media.
If the recording schedule on your DVR is packed with programs and you check your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts (not to mention your email) multiple times each day, there's good news - you have time to spare. If you have the time in your day to watch TV and interact on social media, you have a treasure trove of wasted minutes that could add up to ample running time.
Here's an experiment to try. Forego TV and social media for a week. If you feel like your morphine drip has just been pulled, you have bigger problems, but okay, let's make this experiment a single day. To be sure, hand your phone over to a trusted loved one and unplug the television. Now see how many times a day you check the clock or feel restless or bored.
These are all moments you'd probably be checking your phone or watching a show! Are you starting to get an idea of just how much excess time you really have, that you could apply to your running schedule?
Maybe this isn't your first time on the merry-go-round. If you've committed to running in the past but you're having trouble mustering the time now, perhaps the real problem is that you're not properly motivated.
Consider what happens when you have a looming deadline at work. You find another gear, stay late to finish, or even bring work home with you. You are motivated by the deadline. If you're a parent with school-age kids, you've almost certainly burned the midnight oil making cupcakes for a class party the next day so your kid isn't the only one whose parent didn't send a treat. You don't want to disappoint your kids, after all.
Okay, so we've established that you can find time and you can be motivated. How can you apply these principles to running? You need to find a way to motivate yourself, and deadlines and avoiding disappointment are fantastic motivators, as noted above.
If you're waffling on finding time to run, you need to get serious and sign up for a race. Whether you're looking at a 5K a few weeks from now or a marathon before the end of the year, putting that date on your calendar and planning out your training schedule from there will help to boost your motivation and give you a reason to start pounding pavement. If you don't, you won't be ready when your race rolls around.
Take a moment to visualize yourself triumphantly crossing the finish line. Now consider what will happen if you don't train. You'll crap out during the race, or worse, decide to skip it completely. Either way, it's not a pretty picture. Motivation is a key component of finding the time to run, and you need to find yours.
If you're having a hard time with the concept of obligations, or more specifically, you tend to value obligations to others while obligations to yourself are considered expendable, then a good tactic is to make a date to run with someone else. In this way, you can create an obligation that's a lot harder to back out of.
Naturally, there are benefits to be gained by running with friends. First, you can double up by pairing your social schedule with your exercise routine. For the truly harried, this strategy kills two birds with one stone and it could free up more space on your calendar.
In addition, exercising with others adds an element of competition that can make the prospect of running more exciting. Running by yourself can get boring over time, especially if you're on track for a marathon and spending hours each week in training. If you want to make running a priority and remain motivated enough to stick with it, adding social and competitive elements can be a real boon.
Like any kind of exercise, running takes time. Whether you square away half an hour, five days a week for jogging or you commit to significantly more to train for a marathon, you need to consistently allocate time for this activity. How can you find it? It's easier than you think. You just have to assess your schedule, reduce other obligations, make running a priority, maintain motivation, and maybe get some help from a few running buddies. If running is important, you can find the time.
So you want to be in the top 0.5%? You want to join that tiny percentage of people who have finished a marathon?
The good news is you can totally do it. All you have to do is follow these seven simple (not necessarily easy) steps:
We're back. I'm back. I know for a lot of you the gyms are closed or will be closed soon. But good news another great benefit of running is you can do it by yourself, you can do it outside and you don't need a lot of gear.
So I know it’s not much notice, but we've got to get moving. A new challenge starts on Monday, so get your head ready and let’s do this.