Fitting the Long Run into a Busy Life

Annoyed, my husband said, “You do know that it takes you at least 30 minutes from the time you say you’re going running to the minute you finally walk out the door—right? Meaning that your long run of two hours is actually much longer…” I understood why he was upset. For every minute that I’m out enjoying fresh air and freedom, he’s attending to the needs of two very cute but very needy small children. And while I would have liked to have proven him wrong, truth was, he’s right. My process—and it is a process—goes something like this:

5:15 a.m.: Alarm clock rings and I’d like to say that I immediately jump out of bed, feel limber, lace up, grab a flashlight and hit the road. But instead, I hit the snooze button at least three times, roll out of bed stiff and sore from age and accumulating mileage, and stumble to the kitchen to begin drinking copious amounts of coffee. Then, there’s the need to fuel before the run. And digest that fuel.

5:45 a.m.: Time to stretch, roll, use the facilities, search around for gloves or a hat or a gel or, you name it, and use the facilities—again. Suddenly, it’s 6 a.m.

6 a.m.: I’m about ready to roll but then I realise there’s laundry that needs to be folded. And wouldn’t it be nice if my husband and kids had nice, clean outfits waiting for them when they woke up? Oh, and then there’s dishes that need to be washed. There’s nothing worse than coming home to a sink that’s overflowing with dishes…Whoops. The clock says it’s 6:30 already.

6:30 a.m.: Time to tighten those laces and finally hit the road when I hear crying coming from my son’s bedroom. NOOO! Instead of running out the door, I run to do a diaper change. Then my other son hears the noise, gets up and clamors to watch Mickey Mouse. And I begin to ask myself, would it be so wrong to leave them in from of the TV while I run? Just a mile or two? Please?

7 a.m.: I’m sitting on the couch watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, waiting for my husband to begin his Mr. Mom duties and wondering why I didn’t hit the road as soon as I got up. I could have been done with the run by now…

I know that I’m not alone in the above scenario. And, admittedly, the above scenario has happened again, and again. This doesn’t get me any closer to my goals of training properly for my next race. But I have a plan to avoid this scenario in the future (and I would love to hear your tips too):

Step 1: There’s no getting around the snooze button or the need to stretch, roll, and caffeinate. But if the run is relatively short, I can skip the need to eat. After all, for performance and weight benefits, there’s nothing wrong with training low before shorter efforts (disclaimer: to avoid hitting the wall, I recommend adding in some carbohydrate before any workout longer than 60 minutes.) And if I’m really afraid of hitting the wall, I can prevent it by either eating a carb-rich dinner the night before or packing a gel-just in case. Time savings: 20 minutes.

Step 2: (This one’s a no brainer.) I need to set out my foam roller, coffee cup, headphones, shorts and singlet the night before. Time savings: 15mins

Step 3: While I’m already enlisting my husband’s help to watch the boys while I run, I’ll need to get over my guilt trip and ask for help with housework or do it the evening before. Either way, time savings: 30 minutes.

Step 4: Recover right (the day before). Within 30-60 minutes of finishing your run, recover with 15-25 grams of protein plus 2-4 times as much carbohydrates. The end result is less stiffness and soreness upon waking, which means just a tad less rolling may be needed. Time savings: 5 minutes.

Step 5: Spend rest of the day basking in the fact that the run was accomplished before the sun and sons rose. Time savings: priceless.

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