The Juggling Runner

16 Feb

Those who know me well know that I have the dual problem of (a) having way too much on my plate and (b) having crap time management skills. Juggling a full-time job with parenting a child with autism, parenting a child without autism, helping manage Gerard’s business, and everything else that I have going on, can really take it out of me. That is a lot of balls to have in the air, and dropping any one of them is not an option.

Despite all of this, though, I run. I am living proof that the excuse of not having time to exercise just doesn’t hold water. Anyone who wants to exercise badly enough – assuming they are medically and physically up for it – can find a way to make it work.

That being said, it is far from easy, and several people have asked me how I do it. And so, for people who are overtaxed, overworked, and overwhelmed and still want to exercise, I offer my words of wisdom (and thank you to the Running on Empty blogger for suggesting this as a blog topic).

1. Get your partner/spouse/significant other on board. I cannot stress this enough. I’m not saying you have to drag them out of bed to go running with you at five in the morning against their will, just ensure that you have their support. Explain to them what you want to do and why it’s important to you. Let them understand what impact, if any, it will have on them. I am very fortunate in this regard. Gerard occasionally grumbles and complains when I abandon him to the mercies of two lunatic children so I can go for a long run, but he understands that it is something I need to do. Come race day, he is always a rock of support for me, taking me to races at ungodly hours of the morning and cheering me on at the end.

2. Planning is essential for people pressed for time. At the beginning of each week, write down what days you are going to work out and how long each workout will be. Be sure to take into account the amount of time you will need to change into your workout clothes and get to wherever you need to be. Once you’ve done this, schedule the workouts in your calendar. Once they are in your calendar, don’t move them. Schedule other stuff around them.

3. Once the workout is scheduled, just do it. If your calendar says you’re getting up at five in the morning to go for a run, then get up at five in the morning to go for a run. There will be times when you just don’t think you’ll be able to drag yourself out the door, when all you want to do is go back to sleep. Your mind may even try to convince you that this would be healthier. If you give in, though, you will spend the rest of the day regretting it. If, on the other hand, you get up and do your workout, you will feel an amazing sense of accomplishment. As an added bonus, I frequently find that the runs I am really, really not in the mood for turn out to be some of the best ones ever.

4. As much as I’m going on about scheduling and planning, you have to be prepared for exceptions. Sometimes it won’t be possible for you to go running when you planned to. Your child will keep you awake all night, and you will genuinely need to catch up on sleep instead of running. Or your boss will call an emergency meeting that will cut into the time you had reserved for your lunchtime workout. Or you yourself will get sick and be forced to rest. This is all OK. Sometimes life gets in the way of running. If you’re not able to reschedule a missed workout, no problem. Just go for the next scheduled workout and life will continue to be good.

5. Remember that shorter workouts are still worthwhile. If you were planning to run for an hour and only find yourself with twenty minutes, it’s still worth running for those twenty minutes. From time to time, I’m not able to get out at all because I have no-one to watch the kids for me, but even on those days, I manage to do sprints up and down my road, checking on the kids between reps.

6. The key thing here is perseverance. Even when things get so overwhelming that you have to skip runs or take an extended break because you’re ill or injured, don’t give up. Remind yourself of why it is important to you, and think about how great it feels when you complete a great workout. When things get tough, don’t just give up and tell yourself it will not work. Ultimately, you are doing this for YOU, and you should never give up on yourself.

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2 Responses to “The Juggling Runner”

  1. transplantedx3 February 16, 2011 at 3:43 PM #

    Awesome – I feel like you wrote this just for me – my biggest obstacle is finding someone to watch the boys so I can have that hour for myself. Thanks for the pep talk!!

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  1. Tweets that mention The Juggling Runner « Running for Autism -- Topsy.com - February 16, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amy, Kirsten J. Kirsten J said: The Juggling Runner http://wp.me/pR8tr-6e […]

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