How to Balance Running, Work and Family
Being a runner and being a parent do not have to be mutually exclusive activities. On the same note, running a business or working long hours doesn’t mean you have to quit running. Many people mistakenly assume that because of family or responsibilities, a runner must either sacrifice workouts or spend less time together in order to accommodate training and racing schedules. A great example of people who balance both family and high intensity training are American distance runners Sara Hall and Ryan Hall, who recently adopted four children. Below are secrets for those folks who are seeking to find balance in their family, work and running lives.
Who says that exercise can’t double as family time? Until children are taught to view exercise as punishment, many children approach running, biking, rollerblading, etc. as fun activities. This is also a good way to raise your kids with the knowledge of a healthy lifestyle.
Have your children or spouse ride their bikes next to you during your next run and enjoy the time spent catching up on one another’s day. If your children are young, invest in a bicycle trailer for them to ride in, and ask your spouse to join you on the bike during long runs.
Jogging strollers are a great way for moms and dads to spend quality time with their kids while they get outside to put in miles. Many stroller models are lightweight and have improved maneuverability in comparison to outdated versions, and these attributes decrease the additional work that is necessary to push the stroller. Many parents also rave that jogging strollers are the perfect way to get a fussy child to take a nap.
© Pixattitude | Dreamstime.com
Have a track workout to do but don’t want to leave your children at home while you run? Ask your kids to join you at the track and let them play “coach.” Give them a stop watch and have them time you while you run intervals, or let them play cheerleader while you run laps. Giving them each a stop watch will also help them learn responsibility and reinforce their time-telling and math skills. Before you leave the track, let them race one another in a 200m or 400m dash.
For parents who enjoy racing or are perhaps shooting for a specific goal, such as a Boston qualifier, traveling to races can be tough. One way to overcome these challenges is to turn racing weekends into vacations. Look for races that are in areas the entire family can enjoy, such as the Disney World Marathon. Alternatively, plan to race in areas where your extended family is located, which will help relieve the pressure of what your family will do during your race. It can also give you an opportunity to spend time with relatives you rarely see. Going on vacation together as part of a race also reinforces to your family that you appreciate their support during your training cycles.
Read our article on 12 Popular Marathons Around the World if you’re looking to travel overseas. When your holiday is not scheduled at the same time as the marathon, you can look for regions that are known to be great for runners.
Alternative Run Schedules
Many parents find that the best way for them to spend quality time with their family is to run when the children are busy or sleeping. Try scheduling your day so that you can run during lunch, before your kids wake up, after they go to bed, or while they are at school. This is a great way to make sure your training does not interfere with family time.
You can use this time to do some strength training or other types of cross training.
If running early in the morning or late at night isn’t an option, consider run commuting if your office is nearby. You can achieve two tasks at once (traveling to work and training) and waste little time. This plan works especially well if you have a gym or shower in your office building, and also helps reduce your carbon footprint!
Purchase a Treadmill
Many parents learn to enjoy the treadmill, as it helps them complete their runs and workouts without leaving their family behind. With the help of the treadmill you will be able to stay present with your children, by watching movies or television shows or by telling them stories to pass the time while you run.
Quality over Quantity
As a parent, you may encounter periods of time where there is simply too much going on that is preventing you from running your typical mileage. There may be sick kids, piano recitals, make-up soccer games, birthday parties, etc. which will compromise your training plans. During these periods, remember that quality over quantity is an important tool you can use in your training. If you typically run 10 miles at 7:30 pace, opt for 6 miles at 7:00 pace or faster so that you can still get in a quality workout without sacrificing time spent at your children’s functions.
Make Changes at Home
As runners, we are often tempted to live life by burning the candle at both ends. It is okay to make necessary changes at home so that you can spend more time with your children, especially when you are cutting out chores or habits that do not ultimately add fulfillment to your life.
Hire a House Cleaner
If you can afford to do so, consider hiring a house cleaner to help with chores around the house so you can spend extra time with your family while still finding the time to run. Although spending money on things that you can do yourself can be difficult, the end result of having more quality time together is worth it.
Grocery shopping, especially with kids in tow, can be a nightmare for a hungry runner. Avoid the hassle, save time, and save money by utilizing a grocery delivery service (or hiring a local teenager to run to the store for you). Replacing mundane tasks with family time can help you achieve more peace about your training schedule, and make you an all-around happier person.
Learn to say “no”
As a parent, it’s tempting to be the mom or dad who does everything. It’s okay to make decisions that are in the best interest of spending more quality time together, such as saying no to attending another fundraising event or open house. Choose what matters most to you, such as the fulfillment you receive from running and quality time at home spent with your kids. Make decisions that help you maximize both activities.
Running and Work
Successfully running a business is kind of like running an ultra-marathon: both require commitment, work ethic, strategy, and diligence. A study published on the Social Science Research Network found that marathon runners actually make better CEOs.
This can be anyone from a CEO to an entrepreneur who is struggling with a startup to a secretary in a corporation. When I read Chrissie Wellington’s A Life Without Limits, I was astonished by her humble ideas at the end of the book. The real life heroes are not those people who win triathlons, marathons and ultramarathons, but people who don’t have access to the latest technology and coaches and especially folks who don’t have time to train like professionals do.
These guys are the epitome of work-life-balance, and if you add a disability to this equation, you’ve got something even more interesting. It’s hard to train when you have to work 40 hours a week, but if you add another 20, then it’s really tough to stay in the game.
Priorities are key to success, but not always giving something more of your time than another means higher priority. When one area of your life requires a higher than normal commitment, you will need to condense training time by improving quality. Focus on quality workouts. It may be alright to decrease your running volume if you’re having an important exam coming up.
Planning and Time Management
I’m a busy person. I have a family, I’m a runner, a medical student (soon to be a physician in October), an entrepreneur and a freelancer. Although I’ve never been a morning runner – I’d rather use all that fresh brainpower to complete other tasks in the morning – I never skip a run. I squeeze my workouts between college, studying, family, writing, and tackling responsibilities for my business.
© Faithiecannoise | Dreamstime.com
Planning is one of the most important aspects of time management. Have an agenda with all the tasks you need to complete by the end of each day. Wake up at 5am. Eat healthy. Run when you’re tired and don’t feel like going out the door. Run when you’re so overwhelmed with errands that you’d like to bury your head in the sand. Run 1 mile, but just get out the door. Every minute spent on your feet counts – running or walking.
Your life is like a player on the field. For most people running is grinding and adding responsibilities and life errands makes it more so. As Chrissie Wellington says, the amateurs who compete with professionals are heroes. They should be praised. And there is one thing I’ve seen in all those people who sleep less, wake up earlier and make sacrifices to find time to run: they all have a burning desire to pound the pavement or the trails because running is happiness for them. As long as the oldest sport in the world is your passport to a genuine smile, you can balance running and real-life problems.