Runner’s World November 2003
By Jeff Galloway
It’s a Date
Sometimes the hardest part of your run is finding time for it in
the first place. Here’s how to book it.
There are lots of things you just know will happen without advance
planning: the sun will rise, the seasons will pass, the dog will
jump up on the couch as soon as you leave the house. But the rest
of life takes a little more forethought. Most of us know that the
key to successful running is consistency, but what’s often
left unsaid is that consistency doesn’t happen without planning.
If you just sit back and wait for a time slot in your day to magically
open up for a run, it’s unlikely you’ll ever maintain
a consistent running routine.
Many beginning runners quickly drop out of the sport because they
don’t habitually plan their runs, which usually leads to an
inconsistent, then nonexistent, running program. And lots of veteran
runners never achieve their full potential for the same reason.
Try these five planning strategies for taking control of your running
1. PENCIL YOURSELF IN. Just as you write down other important appointments,
you need to literally pencil in a time for your run. The process
itself is empowering. In the few seconds it takes to scribble “run”
into a time slot, you make running a part of your life. Once you
know you’ve made time for a run, you can relax. It’s
no longer a question of if or when you’ll run. It’s
already in the book.
Some runners prefer to schedule a week’s worth of runs at
a time, setting aside a few minutes on Sunday night or the first
thing Monday to scan the week ahead and enter the days and times
for runs on their calendars. Others find it easier to schedule one
run at a time, usually noting it on their daily calendar the night
before. Adopt whichever scheduling method works best for you.
2. STAY FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR LONG RUNS. Long runs are arguably the
most important component of your training. They build endurance,
burn lots of calories, and help you to run faster and easier during
other workouts. But true to their name, these runs take longer than
other runs. Plus you need to sandwich them between easy days or
days off. All of this means you should schedule your weekly long
run at least a couple days ahead of time.
Most training plans have you doing your long run on a weekend morning,
presumably when you have a little extra time. But if you work on
the weekends or find your weekends are too jam-packed with activities,
be open to scheduling your long runs on another day that suits you
better. And don’t automatically rule out workdays. Some runners
like to do their long runs after work on Friday to get it out of
the way before the weekend begins, or early Monday morning before
the start of the work week (hey, everyone else in the office is
tired on Monday’s, too).
3. ALTERNATE RUN AND REST DAYS. Trying to force daily runs into
a busy schedule can be frustrating, if not impossible. Running every
other day give you much more flexibility, leaving your nonrunning
days wide open. At the same time, leaving 48 hours between your
runs allows your muscles to recover and rebuild for maximum running
4. SHOOT FOR 10. To maintain conditioning, you only need to run
for 10 minutes at your normal training pace. So on extra busy days,
just schedule a 10-minute run. Once you start looking for that 10-minute
pocket of time, other larger pockets of free time might become apparent.
If not, 10 minutes will still do the job.
5. LIFE HAPPENS, SO BE PREPARED. Sure, there will be days when unexpected
events rob you of the time for your planned run. And the Earth won’t
stop revolving as a result. But if you leave a bag full or running
gear stashed in your car, you may be able to sneak in a run during
other unproductive pockets of time later in the day, such as when
you’re waiting for the kids’ soccer practice to break
up. So, when your schedule changes-and it will- just change with
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