Hello! I’m officially off on vacation mode, but a few of my amazing fellow bloggers are stepping in with some pretty sweet guest posts for you all.
Introducing Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?! Cynthia is a running fiend and mother of 3! I’m amazed at her ability to keep up with both endurance running and her awesome blog (you should all check it out) with a full-time job AND three kids. I thought I was busy! How does she do it, you ask? Luckily, she’s graciously offered to guest post for me while I’m on vacation and give you a few tips and tricks for working fitness into your busy schedule – yup, she somehow found time to write a guest post, too! Amazing lady!
Hello Fitful Focus friends! I’m Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!, guest posting for Nicole today. I’m thrilled about her marathon training starting this week – I’ve done two marathons, several half marathons, and just did my first triathlon on Sunday!
I started running ten years ago when I did my first 5K, and then immediately started training for longer distances. I never knew I was an endurance junkie until that first marathon – I was hooked!
Finding the time to train for long-distance events can be challenging, especially with a full-time job and three small kids. But I’ll tell you a secret – there are ways to carve out the time, no matter how busy you are.
When I started training for that first marathon all those years ago, I thought I was “too busy” and didn’t have the time. I had a demanding job, and felt exhausted when I came home from work.
I ran that 5K, then ran a 15K, and wanted to go for a marathon but was clueless about how to train and how to find the time. I signed up for a group training program to force myself to commit and to have some extra motivation. I learned something: I HAD THE TIME – I just didn’t know it before!
The time I found to train was when I had previously been:
a) sleeping, or
b) relaxing on the couch
I did a lot of the latter in my pre-running days. First I tackled a). And instead of waking up on a weekday at 7am to get ready for work, I got up at 6am to run. And voila! – I discovered a whole hour on a weekday that I didn’t know I had! And instead of feeling sleepier from getting up an hour earlier, I felt more energized all day after having run 5 miles in the morning!
So then I tackled b). And instead of coming home from work, stuffing my face, and parking my rear on the couch in front of the TV, I went straight from work to the gym for cross-training days. THEN I came home and inevitably ate a healthier dinner after working out.
Now, many years and three kids later, I am by far busier than I was back then, but I’m still finding the time to train. It’s often that 6am time slot, or sneaking an hour away from work for a fitness class on my lunch break, or working out in my basement late at night after kids are in bed. But actually carving out the time has really made a huge difference in everything in my life – how I feel, how I look, how I approach the stresses of life.
My moods are better, I’m eating healthier, and I have way more energy than I did before. You heard me right – I’m busier and getting less sleep, but I’m more energetic. I know it doesn’t seem logical, but the simple fact is that my body is simply functioning better – the exercise is fueling me in a way that my former “relaxing” did not.
So I will impart to you some bits of wisdom that I’ve learned throughout the past ten years as a busy person with a challenging job, now with small children to coordinate around:
- Morning workouts work. Get it done before the day begins and life gets in the way. Then you can park your rear on the couch in the evening guilt-free.
- Train with a group. The Saturday mornings I spent with the marathon training group (and later with a half marathon group), were some of the best Saturdays I can remember. An organized group has others to keep you motivated through long runs, and to obsess with about the ins and outs of marathon training, fueling, and running. It saves the leg work of mapping out how you might get 17 miles from your doorstep – the route is pre-planned.
- Commit to a training schedule. Pick a training plan and stick to it. Having a plan can keep you motivated, and also helps prevent injury.
- But be flexible. Yes, I just said, “pick a training plan and stick to it”, but now I’m saying “be flexible” – no, I’m not trying to confuse you! In the framework of your plan, be flexible – if you have a big meeting at 9am on Wednesday and the schedule calls for a 6-mile run, you don’t need to trip on the sidewalk in the dark trying to get this in before dawn. Flip your workout days. If you have a business trip and can’t do the 11-mile run on Saturday, do it Sunday evening when you come back. Being a little flexible will go a long way towards taking away the stress of needing to “get in your run”.
- Have a set of running clothes clean and ready to go, and your gadgets charged. ‘Nuff said. With limited time, I’m all about removing the excuses and the obstacles and getting out the door.
- If you have kids, involve them. The running stroller is my BFF. I have been known to go for a 10-mile run by first running 8 miles alone, ending up back at my house where my husband was waiting out front with a kid in the stroller ready to go, and running the last two with the stroller. It’s hard work to push a big kid in that thing, but a great workout for your arms and core. And it’s a great fix for a fussy toddler – “want to go for a stroller run?” solves all our fussy problems. The other big way I involve my kids is to make sure they watch my races whenever possible. It puts it together for them – mommy’s been walking out the door for a run and here she is running in a race – AHA!
- Enjoy the journey. Crossing the finish line of your race will feel like a huge accomplishment, but the training along the way is the true accomplishment. It’s not what you do for 4 hours and 17 minutes on marathon race day (I was pretty happy with that first marathon time!); it’s what you learn about yourself getting there. Commitment, dedication, perseverance – this is the real accomplishment.
So there you have it, Fitful Focus Friends – lessons learned from me, still running ten years later. Everyone keep following Nicole and cheering her on in her training!