How to juggle run training with real life

Struggling to fit it all in? In her monthly column for The Running Bug, inspiring endurance runner Susie Chan shares how she juggles training with the trials and tribulations of real life.

How to juggle run training with real life

Busy busy busy. Job, family, life admin, running, oh and erm, social life. Sometimes it can be hard to fit it all in and you may feel that frequently sacrifices are made in favour of running.

Perhaps you’ve committed to a race, you want to challenge yourself, you run with friends, you want to get fitter or you find peace of mind running.

For me it is all of the above. However as I also have full time job, I'm mum to a teenager and a chubby puppy, and commute 100 miles a day to and from work, squeezing in training runs can sometimes feel like a huge challenge before I even put my trainers on. It’s a good job I don’t have much of a social life!

So how do you do fit it all in?

For me, an understanding and supportive family is a huge help. My daughter is bored rigid with my running, but she understands how much it means to me. My husband wholeheartedly supports me. Fortunately he’s a runner too, and we almost always run together at the weekends and when I have races, he generously steps in to do all the things I can’t do.

Having an understanding boss at work helps too. Days off for travelling to and from races certainly helps free up time.

But other than that, the only way I can fit it in is to be organised and be prepared to make a few sacrifices along the way to run. And also, importantly try not to lose too much perspective about running.

Draw up a life map

To start with, I map out my week in runs at the beginning of the week.

From Monday to Friday most of my training is taken up with a run commute, running to work from the station, back again, and with a few more odd miles thrown in. You’ll be surprised how many miles you can get done this way. They all add up. To make this easier I get all my kit ready the night before and all my work stuff in order so I’m up and out the door quickly in the morning.

I also supplement the run commutes with lunch time runs. Sometimes I will meet friends at lunch to do this. It helps me to get out if I have agreed to meet people, rather than put the kettle on instead. The downside of this is when I do get round to eating lunch it’s normally at 11am over my computer, with a second lunch at around 2.30...

At the weekend, if I want to spend time with my family and crack on with the ginormous pile of smelly run-gear washing, then this means running early; no lie in for me. I tend to be up and out early so I’m all done by lunchtime, if not earlier. I’m a morning runner, but I know loads of people that prefer running at the end of the day.

Plan your time

The best advice I have is to put the time aside to run in advance, and to maximise the rest of your time the best way you can to enable you have the time to run. Ensure the quality family time you have outside of work and running is just that.

My social life is very much through running. I have lots of run friends. We race and run together, chat running and eat cake together. New to running? Embrace your new run buddies! We are a friendly bunch. You can meet them down your local park run or run club, or find them on social media.

It can feel like a lot at times. Sometimes I’ll come back from a run and the washing pile just gets bigger. Sometimes I’ll plan to run 13 miles, and only have the energy to run less. Sometimes my train is delayed and there goes my commute training run, sometime the meeting overruns, I have a poorly child, or an overwhelming urge to just have a nice glass of red instead. Sometimes life just gets in the way.

That’s OK though. When I was new to running, missing a training run seemed like a disaster, sending me on a path of doomed failure in the impending race. It took a while to realise this is not actually the case. If you are doing your best to fit it all in, and if on the odd day or two doesn’t happen, pat yourself on the back for having done as much as you have.

Life is busy, to be a runner on top of it all is above and beyond. Don’t forget to rest too. But most importantly, be proud of every small achievement. Well done for even getting your trainers on. 

Susie Chan is an endurance runner, who competes in some of the world's toughest ultra-marathons and endurance races. Find her on TwitterInstagram, Facebook or read about her races on her blog susie-chan.com

For more of Susie Chan's advice, read her tips on how to love your long runs and discover why she fell in love with running.

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