Every running plan can be adapted and adjusted to meet individual needs. However every single training plan has one thing in common; running takes time. And the more you love the sport, it becomes more likely that your running habit will become more time consuming. Oh, and let’s not forget about all the things you need to do become a better running and prevent injury, like foam rolling and eating well. Since we all have busy lives outside of running, I thought it might be useful to share some time hacks that have helped me get through high mileage training while working and trying really hard not to trash all my relationships.
So, if you are like me (over-committed, always 5-30 minutes late, and forever feeling the weight of every minute that ticks by), and not a professional runner, it’s important to milk every opportunity for efficiency with everything you can. Here’s a few ways you might be able to steal some of those minutes back.
Time Hacks for Busy Runners
Set the alarm for your coffee – In full transparency, my long-suffering husband is kind enough to set up my coffee maker for me every night before he goes to bed. It probably saves me 7 minutes in the morning, because I am not coordinated when I only have one eye open. And cleaning up all the spilled grounds I dropped is time consuming. Setting the alarm on my coffee maker just a few minutes before my alarm goes off means that my coffee is ready for me when I’m done brushing my teeth, and I’m not standing around waiting for it like the caffeine addict I am. It’s the little things.
Run your appliances while running – So, I’d be lying if I said that was an unintentional pun. Mom jokes. But honestly, there are a lot of things that can be going on in the background during your runs to help life move a little more efficiently. I’m a big fan of tossing a load of clothes in the washer as I head out the door, or running the dishwasher while I’m out. I come back, and it’s like one of the 6 million things that need to be done is kinda almost accomplished. Fantastic!
Pre-make your breakfast & recovery meals – Because honestly, who has time to figure out breakfast before a run? And point me in the direction of a single mom who returns home from her run and isn’t immediately greeted with 39 things she needs to do that aren’t making a post workout meal? Because I want to meet her. And ask her just how much of her soul she had to sell to obtain this apparent dream she is living in. Even before having my son, I knew that pre and post workout meals were not going to be anything other than a Snickers bar if I didn’t get them sorted out the night before. And while I’m not opposed to chocolate and peanut butter for breakfast, it’s probably not the best habit. If you need some idea’s of pre-run meals that you can make ahead of time, check out my Long Run Breakfast options. And if you need some idea’s for post-run meals, head over to Mae’s Menu Blog.
Stretch or foam roll during something boring – Not the best description for this one, but hang with me. I work from home a lot, and I’m on quite a few conference calls on a fairly regular basis. I love to take this time as an opportunity to foam roll. I have plenty of clients who use their kids “clean up time” to do a little stretching while checking their kids room for the 6th time they’ve said it’s clean. Point is, there is inevitably a 5-10 minute window every day where you are doing something that doesn’t take a ton of focus or effort, see if you can’t work in a little calf rolling during this time.
Having everything ready to go – Since we’ve already covered the fact that I am not the most mentally dexterous human being until AFTER my coffee has kicked in, I’ve found it useful to have all my running “stuff” ready to go the night before. This means getting water bottles filled, putting the earbuds and Garmin on their chargers, setting out the clothes so that the socks have some hope of matching, putting the fuel in the fuel carrier of choice (Nathan Vaporhowe for me), having hair ties next to the brush, and putting the shoes by the door. If you take the time to set everything up, you’ll spend a lot less time looking for your last pair of clean shorts hidden in the back of drawer, or hunting down one of the approximately 6 billion hair ties that live in your home with you but are playing hide and seek at 5:45 am. These may all seem like small things that wouldn’t take too much time in the morning, but trust me when I say that having everything ready to go can easily shave 10 minutes off my out the door time.
Related Post: The Perfect Morning Routine for Runners
Perfect easy hair styles – This is one pointer that has gotten very interesting during this time in quarantine. Pre-quaratine, I had a couple of go to hair options that helped me look reasonably put together, but didn’t require a full wash and blow out (because that’s literally never happening again until my kid is out of the house). Whether it’s a super simple up-dp, a polished pony tail, or some sort of braid concoction, have a few ways to fix your hair after a run that won’t take up a ton of time. Or, be like me in quarantine, and just stop looking in the mirror and settle into life with gerbil sized knot on the top of your head. Either way works.
Always have a spare set of clothes in the car – Because life as a busy adult means there are lots of times where lunch plans (remember those?) get cancelled, or soccer practice is particularly uneventful, and you might be able to crank out a couple of mile or a body-weight strength session. You can’t get those 40 minutes back, so always be prepared to take advantage when you can.
Listen to audiobooks during runs – This is a little hack that I picked up on when I was struggling through my MBA program. I started to listen to lectures and seminars on subjects that I was needing to learn more about while I was running. Was listening to leadership seminars the most exciting thing to do while I finished up my morning runs? No. Would I have rather been listening to a podcast about murder? Yes. But, it really helped me maximize my time on the roads and generate idea’s that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. If there’s a subject you need to learn more about for work, school, or to keep up with your kids homework, see if you can’t find something to listen to while running.
Consider run commuting – Now, you may think this little nugget only applies to moms who work outside the home. But you would be wrong! There’s a whole lot of little errands that all moms take care of during the week, and I’d bet that some of them don’t require traveling further than you’d be willing to run. So look at things like dropping off or picking up a prescription, checking the mail, or taking your 3rd graders lunch that he forgot for the 3rd time this week to his school, and see if you might be able to run instead of drive. And if you do work outside the home, see if run commuting might be an option for you.
Related Post: Running Hacks Every Runner Should Know
Invest in an instant pot – No, this is not an ad. But I would be completely remiss if I didn’t tell you how many times my instant pot has saved me when it comes to making meals when I’m short on time. Not only is it super convenient, because most instant pot meals are “set and forget” (until the alarm goes off) types of recipes, that usually meals you can do other things while dinner is cooking. Like foam roll! Or enjoy a glass of wine in the solitude of your closet! No judgement here! I also love using it as a slow cooker every now and again so that my meals are cooking throughout the day while I’m doing other things, like running.
None of these helpful hints will grant you that coveted extra hour in a day. I can only offer tips, not black magic, after all. But hopefully some of these pointers will help you find ways to squeeze in just a little more time for yourself and the hobby that you love. Because you truly deserve that time. And hopefully it shows that sometimes a little creativity and the ingenuity of modern day appliances can help you get it.
If you’ve got any other time savers, I definitely want to hear them!