Running on a Tight Schedule
Since I’ve started regularly exercising, I’ve been in various different seasons of life. I’ve been a full time student with two jobs and a weekly holy hour, a teacher with after school responsibilities and endless papers to grade, and now I’m a stay at home mom to two young kids who seem like they constantly need my attention. In all of these seasons, I would consider myself to be extremely busy. So how do I make time to exercise? There are a few different things I had to realize and practice before I could call myself a regular runner. If you’re having trouble making time to exercise, perhaps these tips can help:
1. Admit that you need exercise. Through my years as a runner I’ve realized that without some sort of regular exercise routine, it’s difficult to remain physically, emotionally, mentally, and often spiritually balanced. That’s not to say that our mental health or our spiritual growth is contingent only on whether or not we’re exercising. However, I’ve found that when I don’t keep a regular exercise routine, I find myself sluggish in other aspects of my life. When we can recognize that our whole health (mind, body, and soul) is impacted by our exercise or lack thereof, we can understand that exercise should be one of our top priorities.
2. What is your best running time? Figure out what time of the day you like to run, and plan out the rest of your day with that in mind. In the summer, I like to workout in the morning when it’s not too hot. But during cooler winter days, I want to run outside in the afternoon because I need the warmth of the sun to motivate me to get outside. If it’s just grey and rainy and you don’t want to go outside, opt for an indoor workout at the time you feel most energized.
3. Run from your work place or near your work place. Bring your running clothes to work and either go early or stay late from your workplace. This can not only cut down on time you’re in traffic but also allow you to be fully present to your family when you’re home.
4. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Sometimes if I only have 20 minutes to run, I will want to wait until a day when I have more time to carve out to run a longer distance. What usually ends up happening is that I’ll go a few days without running and wish I would have used that 20 minutes when I had it. It’s better to at least get a short run in more frequently than to wait to run until you have more time to go a further distance. Sometimes just hitting the track or the treadmill for a short time is enough to keep our hearts and minds healthy.
5. Listen to/watch the game, lecture, podcast, tv show while you’re running. This isn’t ideal for someone like me because I usually can only focus on one thing at a time. But if you can multitask and are willing to sacrifice your normal running jams for a replay of a professor’s lecture or the screening of your favorite team’s game, this is a great way to save time. Additionally, try “temptation bundling,” that is, saving your favorite podcasts, audiobooks, shows, etc. ONLY for exercising. That way, you’ll be motivated to run because you know you’ll get a chance to do something fun while running.
6. Make a schedule. This is probably one of the most invaluable things I learned while in college. If you make a schedule, you can become more intentional about the things you do for the day. I am someone who likes to check off boxes and make lists for tasks I need to get done. But I am convinced that making a schedule isn’t just for people with that task-oriented mentality. Making a schedule (even one that you don’t write down but keep in your memory for the day) allows us to do the things that we do well. Starting off the day or the week with a plan means that we have goals in mind and are actually going to do things to work towards fulfilling those goals.
• If we don’t have a plan, we will likely end up spending the day mindlessly, either on our phones, or with other distractions keeping us from living life fully. Phone time can be good, but just like everything else, when it’s not done intentionally, it usually takes us away from the things we want to accomplish and the people we want to be.
• If we want to make running a priority, we can schedule it into our day. For instance, if I know I’ll have a block of time from 5:30-6:30 in between when I get home from work and when I eat/cook dinner, I am very tempted to plop myself down on the couch (because once my tired bottom hits a comfortable surface, I’m basically done with any productivity for the day). So instead, when I get home, I will immediately put my running clothes on and get outside for a run. Making a schedule helps me map that time out. (I’ve included a schedule here if you want to print this version out and use it yourself!)
• In my experience, making a schedule (or at least mapping out my day in my head) makes me carry out my actions more wholeheartedly. I’m reminded by St. Augustine’s words, “I will suggest a means whereby you can praise God all day long, if you wish. Whatever you do, do it well, and you have praised God.”
Katherine Finney is a high school religion teacher turned stay-at-home mom to her daughter Miriam (and one on the way!) A New Orleans native, she loves cooking (especially creole dishes), dancing, and doing karaoke with her husband. Kat originally started running because she was inspired by her husband's zeal for running. Now she loves it herself and has discovered many spiritual, emotional, and physical benefits to it. Kat's primary goal in life is to become a saint with God's grace. She hopes that through this online community God can make her a vessel to both give and receive wisdom about what's truly important in this earthly life.