30 minutes is all you need.
‘Take up running,’ they said. ‘It will be fun,’ they said.
But where on earth do you find the time to commit to a running schedule when the children are so young?
It sounds impossible, doesn’t it. You’re juggling everything; you’re trying to be Mum and maybe work full-time or part-time, and/or your husband works funny shifts and you can’t commit to a rigid running slot.
The house is a tip, you’re struggling to keep on top of the laundry, and you’ve fetched that many drinks and snacks today that your fitness tracker has had a fit and you’ve worn a hole in the floor.
It’s just not an option.
So you give it up as a bad job.
You don’t have time to have time to yourself, let alone fit in running.
The options are out there; you just have to look for them.
1. Set an alarm and get up earlier. Like, an hour and a half earlier. Make sure you’ve enough time to eat something (even if only a banana or a slice of toast – although porridge is best of you can stomach it that early), and about an hour to digest before you go. Running on empty isn’t easy, and you’ll likely burn out and give up.
2. Duck out as soon as hubby is back from work. Husband work late? Feed the kids, put them to bed, and Get Your Kit On. As soon as he’s through the door, off you go. But be safe, and be seen if it’s dark or getting dark, and make sure to run in lit-up areas, ONLY if your area is considered safe. Better still, join a running club for safety in numbers. There are many around the country, offering a number of different scheduled runs, which are perfect for winter night running, and the social interaction will change your life. I run with the Redway Runners in Milton Keynes, and they’re quite possibly the friendliest, most supportive bunch of people I’ve ever known.
3. No partner? Start a babysitting circle. Find a friend (or relative) to watch your kids one day, and then return the favour. Us mums are all here to help each other out, and I think we should reach out more often.
4. Go running when your kids are in school/nursery, it’s the perfect opportunity! The house can wait. Yes, it can. This is about Time for YOU right now.
5. Visiting family? Take your running gear and head out for half an hour while the grandparents spoil the children. Perhaps they’ll even have made some cakes you can scoff when you get back. You’ll need the sustenance.
6. Do you work full-time? Take half an hour out and run during your lunch-break. The extra oxygen in your blood stream will increase your concentrate levels in the afternoon (but be sure to eat a nutritious lunch after your run!).
7. If funds permit, join a gym. Many gyms now have a crèche, which means you can take your little one along with you and don’t have to worry about childcare. Some are free, although others may charge a small fee.
8. WRITE IT DOWN. Somewhere obvious, like the planner on your fridge. Avoid future resentment and giving up at the first hurdle. Let your other half know when you’re going running, and work around each other. Don’t leave it til the last minute and find he’s made plans to meet friends for a drink.
9. Hydrate and fuel properly. Perhaps you’ve already tried running, but find that on top of everything else, you’re just knackered. You don’t have the energy to run, forget about the issue of even trying to find the time. Guidelines* say we should aim to drink 6-8 glasses of fluid per day, and many of us struggle to do that even without running, so it’s easy to see how you might dehydrate quickly, which in turn leads to fatigue. In addition to this, us mums don’t tend to eat properly; we’re so intent on making sure the wee ones have their 5-a-day and protein and carb food groups that we neglect our own diets. Adding running to this puts your body under a lot of stress, and without the right nutrients, you’ll quickly burn out, and find yourself susceptible to colds and being run down.
10. SLEEP. As above, it’s important to hydrate and fuel properly, but make sure your body gets the rest it needs to recover and grow stronger. If you’re getting the recommended 6-8 hours (I personally find 8 hours a necessary minimum!), then you’re more likely to feel optimistic about your next run. Exercise and quality sleep are conducive to positive thinking. And if you can think positive, you can do anything.
So you see, it is possible to make time to run. These are just some ideas to help you out; but if you get stuck, get creative.
There’s one mantra I’ve always lived by; and it’s that you can’t look after others if you’re not looking after yourself first. It’s not an easy feat to remember this as a mother, but if you can try, then you’re halfway there. Look after yourself, and the rest will follow.
* Hydration guidelines obtained from the NHS Eat Well Guide