It’ been a long and tiring day at the office, or maybe the stress of finishing that college paper and sitting in class all day has taken a toll on your energy. Then, there are strenuous physical jobs, like retail or construction, where standing for hours at a time could feel like torture and completely kill your motivation to run.
When you’re hustling on a daily basis to earn a living or pursue your educational goals, carving out time to trek even a few miles could pose a physical challenge and drain your active spirit.
For some athletes, having running in their lives is one of the only things that motivate them to get through their hectic day! Those who want to start a running routine – and are thinking work/school “takes up too much of my time” – will benefit from prioritizing their goals and better utilizing their spare time. The most important part of making a commitment to running, or any workout routine, is consistency while finding a balance between being successful and staying fit.
Life Changes, And So Do You!
For runners who grew accustomed to a certain schedule and have to revamp their routine because of a new job etc. with crazy hours, it can be frustrating to have to put your time with the pavement on the backburner.
If you’re used to working a daytime job and suddenly you get stuck pulling evening shifts, your body will need to adjust to the changes – including the amount of rest/sleep you require, which will impact the energy and stamina you’re able to harness for running. Realistically, you want to be able to focus and function for your professional “hustle” and get into the swing of your new schedule. When your life is turned around, forcing you to sacrifice a couple of weeks of running/training, don’t feel guilty! You may need to go on a short running hiatus while you figure out the best times to allocate to putting in those miles.
Also, as you begin to master the amount of sleep your body and mind requires to function, you can better assess when to run and how long your runs can be.
Coming home from work an hour or two later in the evenings may mean you’re more tired and can only run a couple of miles. Remember, a couple of miles – even if it’s one or two days a week – is better than none!
Give Yourself Something To Look Forward To
Running is one of the best physical ways to release steam and negative mental energy – whether you’re doing it at the beginning of the day to pump yourself up for the daily grind, or at the end of the day to release your stress.
One way to get out of the “guilt of the grind” is to make running an activity you look forward to – something that separates you from “work mode.” Get your running gear out the night/day before (decide on what socks for running are the best, check if you need a windbreaker so the weather doesn’t spoil your mood, etc.), create a different playlist and think of somewhere new to trek on your run. Inspiring yourself to go for a run by making it more exciting and challenging could mean you stop making excuses that you’re just “not feeling it” because of your job.
You can also reward yourself with a cheat meal as motivation. If delicious food awaits you after a run, all the better! Nothing says, “Let’s order a huge pizza” like a 7-mile run and the gratification you get from sticking to your fitness goals!
Take Mini Exercise Breaks
It may sound silly, but there are probably plenty of opportunities in the middle of the day – including lunch breaks – where you can complete some type of mini exercise that will get your blood circulating and keep that running mentality on course. Depending on how much time you have on your break, you can utilize some of that time to take a walk or even use the stairs at your office/school.
A great investment for runners, who want to keep their legs fit while they’re sitting in one spot for hours at a time, are resistance bands. With so many different weights of tension, these rubber/elastic bands are affordable, portable, lightweight and can fold up into your pocket. Practicing “chair-based exercises” such as seated abductors and using resistance bands to mimic a leg press machine, will help strengthen different leg muscles and your glutes so that your body is staying toned for that next run.
How Are You Really Spending Your Free Time?
Sure you want to binge watch that new network series everyone is talking about! Sure, you want to catch up with some friends and sit around…doing nothing! When you really think about it, aren’t there other ways your “free” time can be better spent?
We like to make excuses about why we don’t have time to run – that our “obligations” cut into our training time. In order to dedicate yourself to being a better runner, the obvious factor must be that you actually use the spare time you have left in the day to run!
If you’re spending nights watching a movie or doing something that requires minimum or no physical activity/movement, your enemy could simply be laziness you’ve contracted from “work burnout.” Instead of making a commitment to finishing that drama series, make a tentative workout plan and set an alarm for each day – when you know you’re home literally doing nothing – to defeat that plan. Even if you’re strength training and building your leg muscles one evening with a few sets of squats or lunges, your body will feel more motivated for a run the following day.
One way to compensate for missing out on those beloved runs during a busy work week is dedicating one of your days off – more specifically, the entire day – to getting yourself in shape. Avoid your cell phone or any technology/media that distracts you from making the most out of your free time. When you finally have that day off, start your morning with a healthy breakfast, practice some stretches – maybe focus on yoga for a bit – and head out for a long run. Thanks to what experts tag “muscle memory,” you probably won’t have a hard time getting back into a long run once you get going.
Ultimately, consider the fact that your free time is YOURS – so work on yourself when you’re not working for someone else! You’ll feel exhilarating and accomplished, so keep trekking!