3 Ways to Make Time for Workouts: Holiday Special
The holidays are upon us! Happy times, busy times, and sometimes crazy stressful times. If you are like me, running is your stress reliever! So what do you do when the stress level is high but there is not enough time for a good workout? You get creative!
As you will see, I am extremely qualified to write this blog post. Case in point: I am a wife and mother of 6 children still at home. My husband and I are raising 2 seven-year olds, 3 teenagers, and one in between. We are BUSY. On top of that, we run a small family farm together with animals that need daily care. I obviously work as a nurse practitioner and run my own business. Even with all of this, I consistently run an average of 50 miles per week year-round, with weekly totals topping off around 80 miles during a training cycle. In addition, I run 8 to 10 ultramarathon distances per year. How do I fit all of this in and still prioritize my family? Read on!
1. Take advantage of the margins of the day. I log most of my miles before my kids are awake or at least in need of me. Yes, it is dark (and cold), but the dark and I have made friends (read this article for tips on running in winter darkness). In fact, I have found that the peace of predawn is soothing to my soul. Lay out your clothes the night before and commit to jumping out of bed when the alarm goes off. For me, this is usually around 5am, but sometimes closer to 4am for long runs. If I don’t do this, I sometimes literally cannot run that day. Reflecting on the feeling of having missed my quiet time once or twice is enough to ensure that I will pry myself out of my warm bed at an appropriate hour. You can also run in the evening: This is valuable practice for nighttime running during a long race and also gives you the flexibility to be present for holiday festivities throughout the day.
2. Break your miles up. I have been known to train in spurts throughout the day when I cannot find enough time to complete my miles in a single chunk. This could look like 10 miles in the morning and 5 at night, or even 2 to 3 miles every few hours all day long. My kids are used to me having running clothes (and sometimes a slightly unpleasant odor) on, so it’s all good! I think that this is great training, particularly for an ultra or timed event in which time on your feet is key. This past year I have trained like this A LOT and have also had some of my best race finishes including several age group awards and overall top female at a backyard ultra! Please note that I do not do all of my long runs this way (it is important to have some continuous efforts), but it does work for at least half of them. The important part is to log the miles. You get bonus points for being busy in between and spending extra time on your feet!
3. Get creative! The sky is the limit here because most physical activities can translate into success in endurance training. For example, you could take a hike with the family: Ultramarathons absolutely involve power hiking so this is training. Run alongside the kids while they ride their bikes. Do some strength training to build a base for your next cycle. Squeeze things in when you can and add it all up to build well-rounded endurance.
Most importantly, do not let your stress-reliever (running) become a stressor. If you need to back off during the holidays, do so guilt free. A rest period here and there is a great training tool. You will be fresh and ready to start a new training cycle. Take this time to set some goals for the New Year, scroll through Ultrasignup, and enter some events that will stretch you in the months to come. The best advice for longevity and keeping up a consistent endurance base is flexibility! It is ok to break your miles up, shuffle your training days, and cross train. You will be a more versatile athlete for it! Just make the commitment to staying active and keep the joy in your running. I feel blessed to be able to get out there and enjoy my miles each day, however and whenever they happen.
Happy holidays to you and your family!