Finding Time to Be a Good Runner

The Seven Essential Exercises Every Runner Must Do

How to Make Your Own Energy Bars

The Proper Way to Crosstrain

The Required Foods Runners Should Eat

If you read all these stories in every running magazine and on every running-related website, you might not have enough time to do anything else. But if you followed these suggestions and you manage to hold down a full-time job, you most likely don’t have time to run.

Running, as an activity and hobby, is pretty easy. You put on your running gear and head out the door. Sure, maybe you have to drive to trails or a running path, and maybe you have to plan around busy schedules so that you can run with a partner. But ultimately, running is something our bodies were made to do, and it’s not hard to run.

Being a good runner (or a productive runner) is not as easy. You need a lot of gear for different weather and road or trail conditions. You need to run on different surfaces and in different areas to train different muscle groups and alleviate boredom. You need to run for long periods of time. And you need to run almost every day.

Some people can run in the morning before the day even begins. When I manage to do this, I feel a wonderful surge of energy that propels me through the morning of work…and then I crash early in the afternoon and find myself going to bed before the sun even properly sets.

Running in the evening is easier. You have the whole day to plan it, and you can work it into your schedule if time permits. You get home, change clothes, and go out to run. But even this is difficult. Group runs start at 6 pm so that everyone has time to get there after work, but since I can’t eat anything significant before a run, I find myself eating dinner at 7:30 or going to bed without dinner at all (and waking up starving early the next morning). Then there’s the coordination with other people: where to meet, where to run, how to fit everyone’s schedule and commute. Social events carry their own post-run requirements. Your entire post-work day can be consumed with the activity of running, which isn’t really a bad thing, but what about family and hobbies and good old-fashioned relaxing in front of the TV (priorities but not necessarily in order)?

To build your running expertise, you have to run long at least one day a week, and there goes your Saturday or Sunday morning. But not just that morning! You can’t spend the night before going out with friends and drinking alcohol and staying up late, because these things kill that early-morning run (and make it far too easy to sleep in and skip it altogether). And after the run, you have to return home and shower and sometimes clean the mud off those running shoes and take a bit to recover (because if you don’t, you’ll regret it later).

To build that expertise, you have to run throughout the week too. Don’t just go out and run, remember. There’s intervals and hill repeats and fartleks, and don’t forget about the group workouts to build your muscles and yoga for runners and all those other physical activities you want to fit in but can’t quite work around your running schedule. It’s unlikely you can do these things right outside your front door. More likely, you have to plan these events into your schedule and drive somewhere to participate, and there goes your evening.

If you’re planning a marathon or ultra and trying to be a better runner, you’re running at least four or five days a week. The longer distances require back-to-back runs to build your endurance. And on your off days, when all you want to do is rest, you still have requirements. There’s cross training; it’s right there on your workout plan. There’s weight training and muscle-building exercises. Don’t forget to treat those sore muscles with rolling and stretching and massages. There’s meditation and yoga and meal preparation to eat right, and all of these things assuredly cut into your Netflix and beer time.

What about relaxing? What about seeing your friends and taking time for other hobbies completely unrelated to running? It’s no wonder most of my running friends don’t seem to have many of these other hobbies, and if they do, they don’t participate in them as much as they would like.

I want to be a good runner. I want to enjoy those days of three or four miles of easy, enjoyable running (just like it used to be when I started to run), and I want to plan those long runs and intervals and hills and workouts and group runs. I’d like to be stronger physically and do exercises and workouts. I’d like to be stronger mentally and meditate more and participate in yoga; these things feel amazing when I fit them in. But there’s not enough time in the day.

It’s easy enough to find time to be a runner. But it’s hard to work your schedule and priorities around being a good runner. There’s just not enough time in the day…

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