Running When You’re Running Out of Time

Photo by  Luke Chesser  on  Unsplash

Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

This is a timely topic for me, and I’m guessing it is for a lot of people. Christmas concerts, shopping, family parties, and making sure to take some extra prayer time during this season of Advent all add up to a calendar in chaos. If you live in the frozen tundra of the midwest, like me, you can add to that freezing temperatures and the shortest days of the year. Even when conditions are perfect, sometimes it is still hard to find the motivation you need lace up your running shoes. So when you have to make time, squeeze it in between last minute Christmas shopping and finishing that last batch of cookies after work, it can be that much harder to get those miles in.

I am a youth minister, so my life is dictated by the schedules of teenagers. If you are a mom, your schedule is dictated by little legs running around the house, or not so little legs who need rides to school, choir practice, basketball practice or youth group. If you are a student, your schedule is dictated by finals and papers and when you can FINALLY go home for Christmas break.

With all of these good things demanding our time, for me running is often one of the first things to get booted out of my schedule. So, if that’s you too, here are some tips and tricks I am using to make the most of the eight hours of sunlight we see in December in Minnesota:

Overcome the fear of showering at the gym.

There are lots of things I don’t love about showering anywhere other than the comfort of my own home. Packing and unpacking my bag. Hanging a damp towel over the backseat of my car. Walking outside and having my hair instantly freeze to my face. Wearing my oldest pair of Old Navy flip-flops. But for all the negatives, I can get my miles in anytime I want. The lunch hour treadmill run has become my best friend. Not only do you get in the miles you need, but it helps regroup your entire day. Rough morning? It almost feels like you’re starting over. That midday run sends you back to the office refreshed and ready to face whatever the afternoon will throw at you. Lunch tastes better after a few miles, too.

If that’s just not you…

Dry shampoo or baby powder can work wonders. I use baby powder in my hair every day I don’t wash it, and it works wonders. Definitely works better the lighter your hair, but a good bottle of dry shampoo does the trick if you have darker hair.

Mix in some short, high intensity workouts to make the most of your time.

On the treadmill for a quick 20 minutes? Pump up the speed for the last ten, or increase that incline and shorten your stride for a little strength training for your quads built right into your run. Getting a few miles in outside? Mix in a few sprints to your middle miles. Race the clock, how far can you make it in 30 seconds? Race that dog in the yard you’re running past. Race your shadow. But watch the ice.

Remember that this is YOU time.

I’m the most introverted of introverts. So running is my me time. When I took a big running hiatus in college, my me time was sitting in a dark room watching Netflix. Running has been my solution for a much healthier, more productive me time. And honestly a much better stress reliever. Not that I’ve given up Netflix completely, of course... it passes time on the dreadmill.

But I’m the most extroverted of extroverts…

Kill two birds with one stone! Busy schedules make it hard to spend quality time with people we love. Make it a running date. Use a recovery day to catch up on life with a friend over a few miles. Make a gym-then-wine date. Those are my favorites. It’s easier to stay on the treadmill longer if there is someone next to you who has to finish her miles too...

Fight that snooze button.

Okay, in the spirit of vulnerability, this has been the absolute hardest thing for me this winter. I have never been a morning runner, but some days I just know that if I don’t wake up an hour early to get it done, my day will be over before I have had a chance to even say the word run. Some days I do it. Some days I don’t. Start everyday on your knees, offer that alarm clock to the Lord, for your children, for the sanctification of the Church, for literally whatever the Lord puts on your heart to get you out of bed!

Just do it.

Easier said than done. But really. We make time for the things that are important to us. I’m trying, and I’m praying for you.

Trust, and let go of the expectations you have placed on yourself.

Have a realistic understanding of your life that some days, it just won’t happen the way we planned. Things come up. We do our best. Most of us aren’t professionals, so many things demand our attention. Be merciful with yourself, and try again tomorrow.

One of the messages I hear most often from the Lord is, “You’re doing great, little one.” God is constantly reminding us that we can’t do it all, and He doesn’t expect that from us. Why do we expect it from ourselves. We do our best, we give everything all we’ve got, and we keep going, allowing His mercy to flow through our lives, cover our mistakes, and draw us to His Heart. Keep working, keep trying, keep praying!

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Brianna St. Amour is a Middle School Youth Minister just outside St. Paul, MN. She is a Minnesota transplant from Northern Vermont who misses hiking in the Green Mountains but has traded it for exploring the Twin Cities (when its not too cold to breath!) She loves New England Sports, Golf, running, biking, and telling people about what Jesus has done in her life. Coffee, Mass, sunshine, baseball, friends and wine are ingredients for the perfect day.