Run Smarter Not Harder: How to Stay in Shape with a Busy Schedule

Running is amazing for both your cardiac and your mental health. It helps you get your steps in, it keeps you in shape, and it helps you stay sane, even when all the stresses of everyday life conspire against you.

With the pace of modern life, though, how do you manage to fit a running session into your busy schedule? Is there something you have to routinely give up, or can you run smarter and achieve the same benefits?

Set Realistic Goals

While running without a goal is still perfectly acceptable, you should set yourself some running goals to help you both track your progress, and understand how far and how fast you need to run.

Just be sure to keep them realistic. You may want to run an 8-minute mile, but if you are currently averaging 10 minutes, like most of the world’s population, you won’t be able to do it in a week.

Also, be realistic about the number of times you can run a week. If you aim to run every evening, but you can only actually find the time for three runs, you will be setting yourself up for the feeling of failure.

Set Running Times

The best way to find the time to run is to make the time, i.e., add running into your daily schedule like you would a work meeting or dinner with friends. Consider it a non-negotiable. If you have to move something around, don’t make it the run.

You can also try setting yourself a workout alarm that will remind you to get out of the door in an hour or half an hour. If you are running in the morning, set your alarm an hour earlier than usual.

Running & Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Prioritize Sleep

If you are feeling run down or unmotivated, it will be very difficult to get out for a run. It also won’t be as beneficial as it usually is, as you will only further be depleting your energy stores.

If you are serious about running, make sure to set yourself a firm bedtime, depending on when you need to get up. It will also help you achieve more during the day, as you will know there is a limited amount of time available.

Also, make sure to improve the quality of your sleep. Invest in a good quality mattress that will specifically support your sleeping style. Sleeping on the wrong mattress can lead to neck and back pain and significantly lower your quality of sleep. This means your body won’t have the time and resources to repair the damage each run is inflicting.

Know When to Rest

A lot of runners make the mistake of running through pain. Some of them believe they can brush it off, while others are aware of the potential risks but would rather not skip a running day.

Common injuries like plantar fasciitis can be prevented simply by resting instead of pushing through the pain. If you absolutely need to run, i.e., you are training for an event, at least get yourself the kind of shoes that will provide arch support for the injury and alleviate some of the pain.

Remember that it’s always better to skip a day or a week of running than to aggravate an injury that may keep you off the track for months.

Run to or From Work

This is by far the simplest way to find the time to run: make it your commute. Of course, this is not an option if your office is very far from your home or if you aren’t able to shower at the office or at a nearby gym.

Running from work is often the more realistic option, as you can utilize your own bathroom. Take public transport or hitch a ride to work (you can also walk, if reasonable) and bring your running gear with you. All you really need to take home are your keys, phone, and credit card, which will fit into a running pouch or pocket.

Use Runs to Think

Unlike strength training, running gives you plenty of room to think and be alone with your thoughts. Instead of sitting at a desk or on your sofa, use your runs to think, make plans, and spend some time actively meditating.

Our minds work better when we are moving than when we are still. While you will certainly have to work on pushing yourself mentally while on a run, giving yourself a specific topic to think about can make your runs easier for you too.

This is a great multitasking method that allows you to make the most of the limited time you have available during any given day.

Understand the Sacrifice

If your life is extremely busy, try to accept sooner rather than later the fact that you will need to sacrifice something. It can either be running and the speed at which you progress, or it can be another part of your life.

You may need to wake up earlier to go for a run. You may need to miss out on watching a TV show as soon as it premiers on Netflix. You may need to eat different kinds of meals to fuel your runs better.

Be clear about what you want your runs to achieve and what you are willing to sacrifice for them. When you accept it, it will be much easier to both find the time and the willpower to put your running shoes on.

Wrapping Up

As the saying goes, if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. If running is your preferred form of exercise, don’t let your busy lifestyle prevent you from pursuing it.