Friday, October 28, 2011

Making Running Part of the Routine

This last two weeks, I've established for myself a new routine. Over the summer, it had been a lot easier to find time to fit 4 or 5 solid running days into a week. It wasn't just that I had more time on my hands, but climate and more daylight hours per day meant that there were more options during the day to find desirable running opportunities. If it wasn't possible during the day, an evening or pre-bedtime run could also be filled with sunshine (or sunset) and warmth. Now, things are a bit different. 
Daylight hours are decreasing. And with daylight savings happening soon (which I think should be outlawed!!!!), the sun will be setting yet another hour earlier every day. It's starting to get chilly out there too! This past week I've had to switch from wearing shorts to wearing pants for my runs, and I'm sure in no time, I'll be needing to find my gloves too. And now my daily routine of responsibility has also changed drastically. You may have noticed that I've not blogged in about a week. Finding time to run (among other things) has taken a bit more work for me now, but it's also so much more important now that I do that work. Squeezing a half hour here and there to run a quick 5km allows that necessary space to unwind in the day, re-energize, put aside the stresses of the day, and re-focus. And when I can find time for a longer, more intense workout, I'm always thankful. I'm glad that time management is one of my strengths.

It can be tough though. The important thing is to not make excuses and skip a run when I shouldn't. And it's also just as important to not feel guilty when getting an extra hour of sleep would be more important. Right now I'm only getting in 3 or 4 good work-outs a week, but I expect that to change in a month when my schedule changes a little bit and I can find time for 1 or 2 more. I'm putting on my old "busy-bee" hat that I used to wear, and have realized that no matter what, I'm always going to make running a priority. It's simply way too important to me to keep running; things aren't going to change simply because my schedule has changed. And frankly, when I have to run clad in reflective gear or rain gear in order to run in less than ideal conditions, it makes me feel kinda hardcore and bad-ass. I'm so into running that I'm not afraid of a little dark, wet, or snowy conditions. I take it all on because I'm a runner, and I'm going to keep on running, no matter what. Bad running conditions? Bring it on!

What has always worked for me to make sure that running being a priority isn't just an idea, but an actuality, is the following:
  • Setting a goal for myself depending on what I'm training or not training for (i.e., actively training for a race, recovering from a race, or 'maintenance')
  • Setting weekly goals that contribute to the larger goal (i.e., required weekly mileage, length of long run, number of workouts)
  • Planning out my whole week's workouts on Sunday as I look ahead to the week and writing down every workout into my planner (i.e., times, dates, and target distances / pacing for each run, or details of cross-training activity)
  • Keeping a promise to myself that those workouts happen. I treat these "appointments" with myself as ones that can't be broken. The timing can change, but otherwise, they must happen on that day (except under extenuating circumstances). If I feel tired, I remind myself that some days it's harder to get out the door, but I always return home feeling better.
For example, I'm starting marathon training in January, where I'll need to be running 5 days a week. I'm going to have to work my way up to being ready for the training plan by upping mileage over November and especially in December. For now, I am allowing myself to have a break and running 3 days a week, but also finding time for activities such as soccer, brisk walking, and swimming. I write all my weekly activities down in my calendar and make sure they happen. It's working for me under my current circumstances, meeting my current goals and I'm happy with how it's going. But I can also look ahead in anticipation to when I'll have a bit more time to fit more workouts in and know how good that's going to feel.

What works for you? What works for you when you're busy? What works for you when daylight hours are few and it's hard to find ideal running conditions during your work-week?

1 comment:

  1. Running in horrible weather is totally bad-ass. Makes you feel kind of invincible, no?