By Lauren MacDonald
When I graduated from college, I immediately started a full-time job in a brand-new city. I was desperate to succeed and started working 12-plus hours a day, oftentimes neglecting to stop for lunch. I committed myself to my work with a single mindedness that didn’t leave room for much else, including running. Within just a few months, I was completely run-down and ended up sleep-deprived, sick, and frankly a little overweight. I realized that neglecting everything else in my life except work was not going to work out well for my mental or physical health.
When I get busy, I tend to think I don’t have time to run, eat well, or take care of my health. But in truth when I’m busy is when I need it the most. As I learned during my first few months post-grad—and as I continue to learn—neglecting to run doesn’t make me any more productive. In fact, I’ve found I’m more likely to procrastinate and daydream when I don’t run!
Recently, I started a graduate school and I’m in a year-long intensive master’s program for teaching. I knew that for the next year of my life I would have to be intentional about setting aside time to run, work out and eat well if I didn’t want to fall prey to the same obsessiveness that plagued my first few months post-grad. Still, when an especially busy week of papers, work and classes came around, I found excuses to not run. Those excuses compounded when I got sick and then a little later, I realized I had gone two weeks without a run.
Luckily, I caught myself early this time, but I was still frustrated. I needed a game plan and fast. I knew from past experiences there were a few simple steps that I could follow to help myself get on track:
Find a buddy
I knew that having a friend to work out with would prevent me from talking myself out of working out and I quickly set up a routine to start swimming with a fellow coach.
Work it into your routine
Since I coach a swim team every weeknight, I knew it would be easier to motivate myself to swim since I would already been there every night. Although I still wanted to up my running routine, I knew that something was better than nothing.
Always be prepared
I travel almost more than hour to and from classes every day and pass multiple parks where I could easily go for a run, but I never had running clothes with me. After taking my hiatus, I stashed a pair of my running sneakers, shorts, bra and shirt in the back of my car. I even went so far as to put a towel, face wipes and a mini-deodorant in there as well. And although my mom now complains that my car is a mess, I’m always ready to run if I have the chance and I can even clean up to a semi-respectable state afterwards if I need to.
While all of these tricks are nothing new, they are simple enough to follow. But only when I give myself permission to focus on my physical and mental health as well as all my other responsibilities, which, to be frank, is the step I struggle with the most! What about you? What helps you balance your responsibilities with your running?