Have you ever been on an airplane when the oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling?
I hope not.
But I’m pretty confident that if you’ve ever flown you at least saw the masks during the in-flight announcements. During these announcements, the flight attendant shows you how to blow up a life vest and demonstrates how to use the oxygen mask.
Have you ever noticed what they tell you FIRST when using the oxygen mask?
They tell you to ALWAYS apply the oxygen mask to YOUR mouth first. Because, well… you can’t be of any help if you’re passed out.
How can you help someone else if you can’t even help yourself?
You must take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.
Sure, this makes sense for an oxygen mask on an airplane. But isn’t it an excellent metaphor for life in general?
When you take care of yourself, you can then give more to others.
As a Dad, I find this statement to be so true. When I get out and run, I come home as super dad. I’m super excited and fully engaged during the time I’m spending with my kids. That’s versus sitting around passively with my mind elsewhere.
That’s because instead of sitting around wasting time, I gave extra time to myself. I gave myself more time to run. Remember, your outside world is a direct reflection of your inside world. A life of fulfillment is built from the inside out, there is no other way.
Also, running helps you become the best version of yourself. And this creates a ripple effect.
Being a better you, that is–the real you–is contagious. Others around you become inspired.
To be inspired literally means “in spirit” as in the spirit within you. And unlike motivation, inspiration comes from within…not without. It’s not like motivation where you have some trainer yelling behind you “MOVE!”. Inspiration is already in you, and sometimes you just need something to trigger it.
Speaking of being a dad, I just put my boys asleep for the night and came downstairs. After a long day of daddy duties, I was hit with a sudden spark of inspiration. I decided to write about finding more time to run.
I’ve been running ultramarathons for some time now. I ran a handful already this year and will run more in the future. Between races and training runs I’ve run nearly 100 ultra distances.
Training for an ultramarathon takes a lot of extra time to run. But you know what, training for any new distance takes a lot of time. You know why? Because no matter the distance, you still must adapt to the extra training load. Distance, time, weight–it’s all relative to your current capabilities.
But here’s what I can tell you: it takes unusual training habbits to reach any running goal.
What do I mean?
Well, to get from where you are now, to the finish line of a new distance, you much do things differently. You must train longer within the same 24 hours you have each day, so, of course, it will feel a bit abnormal.
It takes effective time management. You must make new time to run and fill in the gaps of your day with training runs wherever you can.
Here’s what inspired me to write about finding more time to run…
After having an extra busy week with my boys and still training for my next race, I realized that sometimes I forget finding time to train can be difficult. Before I started my ultrarunning journey, finding time to train was not always so easy. Because…well…training now is just a way of life. I’m always training. There’s never time off because running isn’t just what I do. Running is a part of who I am. After one race it’s just another training schedule to the next.
So I decided to put together a list of ways you can train that might not be so obvious. Some may be times you already train, and some may be new to you.
But even if you get one new idea or one new insight, then it will have been worth the read. Because I can tell you from experience — you can run any distance imaginable—it just takes TIME to turn your thoughts into reality.
And you don’t actually need “more time” you just need to manage your time more effectively.
The most athletic person in the world has the same 24 hours as you. The most wealthiest person has the same 24 hours as you. The most intelligent person in the world has the same 24 hours as you.
If you make training a MUST, give it the focus it needs, and set specific concrete goals, you will always have time to run.
So before jumping into the list, let’s save some of your valuable time first. To save an enormous amount of time, you must be SPECIFIC and know EXACTLY what you want. Be a shooting dart headed to a SPECIFIC target. Not a wandering generality blindfolded playing pin the tail on your running goals.
Don’t Waste Time
First, you need to become specific about what your running goal is. This way there’s no wasted time.
If you want to run further, then, what EXACT distance do you want to reach? If you want to lose weight, then, how much weight and how often do you need to run to lose it? If you want to become a faster runner, then, what pace do you want to reach and at what distance?
When you become specific and clear on you want, you will not waste time wandering aimlessly from thought to thought without every establishing a concrete goal. For example, let’s say you want to train for your first marathon. Passively running each week won’t be much help. Sure, it’s good for your health. But if you want to run a marathon, you need a training program, and you need to sign up for the race. This gives you a plan of action and a deadline.
In the absence of a plan, how do you know if you’re overtraining? Running more than necessary is a waste of time. But what if you’re under training? Now you’re spinning wheels. Yes, you’re running, but not making any real progress.
Because if your goal is to “someday run a marathon”, then, it will always happen SOMEday and never TOday.
But when you decide to run a marathon specifically, you can then make progress each week and sign up for the race. Now you’re wasting no time at all.
Not sure what distance you want to run?
Here’s the basic progression…
Your comfy coach —> 5k —> 10k —> half-marathon —> marathon —> 50k —> 50-mile —> 100k —> 100-mile —> Outer space
Now, this isn’t the only path. My first race ever was a marathon. I just trained and went for it. But when training for a marathon, you still have to run the lower distances to build up to the longer stuff.
So pick your distance goal and start training TODAY!
And read on as I offer some ways to find more time to run TODAY.
Find More Time To Run
Now that you have a specific goal, and are not wasting time, let’s find more time to run. These tips will help you squeeze in more training runs with even the busiest of schedules.
1. Run Extra Early Or Extra Late
3:00am-7:00am and 9:00pm-2:00am are enough time to accomplish all your running goals. This is the time we often use for extra sleep.
But if you want to achieve one of the biggest goals of your life, it will take sacrifice. And sleep will be one of them. Look, you must work long and hard to conquer long distance. There’s not a long distance runner on earth that ever took it easy and still reached their goal. You need to get out there and put in the miles.
HERE’S A TRICK. Go to bed extra early, sleep for 2-3 hours, then wake up and run. If you set your alarm clock based on 90-minute sleep cycles than 3 hours of sleep is the magic number. It provides a better chance of waking up fully energized ready to run. Then if you’re tired later in the day, catch a catnap or get to bed earlier the following night.
There’s plenty of time to run long if you keep your eyes open.
2. Run Fewer Days But Longer Distance
Here’s an approach I recommend in my book, The Ultramarathon Guide: A Simple Approach To Running Your First Ultramarathon. The tip is to run fewer days but run longer on the days you do run.
Think about all the time it takes to get ready for a run. And also, consider the time it takes to cool down and get yourself back together afterward. I know this well because my wife likes to always remind me how long I take!
You have to find your shoes…although you have five pairs lying around…you need to find THE pair. Then you have to find the right shirt and your favorite hat. And oh NO, did you wash your shorts since last time? Hopefully, they’re not sitting at the bottom of the hamper. Then you have to find your headphones and your phone. And is your new playlist ready? If not you need to make a quick one. And are your phone and headphones charged? If not no worries — just bring along the portable charger. And who knows if that’s charged. And where in the world is your watch?!
And that right there is only what’s going through your head! You didn’t even get dressed yet, put your fuel together, or map out your route.
Then after your run, you need to cool down. It takes time to bring your heart rate back down safely. Then you must make a shake, ice your body, take a shower, get dressed, and the list goes on.
And yes, all this exagerated rambling has a point–the point is, pre-run and post-run take time, YOUR time.
So let’s say it takes you 2 hours total before and after your run. And let’s say you want to run 5 times per week. That’s 10 hours per week from running spent by not actually running at all!
Example: ½ hour to get ready + RUN + ½ hour cool down + 1 hour shake/shower/dress
So by cutting your weekly training down to two or three longer runs, you save an addition 4-6 hours per week. And all you need to do is add your mileage proportionality through your training runs.
Old Week: 3 mile / 6 mile / 4 mile / 3 mile / 12 mile
New Week: 4 mile / 8 mile / 16 mile
This is especially ideal for the weekend warriors. And the extra days off will not only save you time, but they will provide an optimum recover thus preventing burnout and injury.
So cut out the days, add the mileage, and find the time you need to become the runner you know you can be.
3. Tuck and Roll and Then Run
When I’m entirely committed to a jam-packed weekend, but completely committed to a training run, the tuck and roll comes in handy.
Not able to run because you’re going out for the whole day? Next time, bring along your running clothes with you and get dropped off on the way home. Make the drop point the number of miles you wish to run from your house. For example, if you have a 10-mile training run, get dropped off 10 miles from your home.
There have been countless times I’ve hopped out of the car while driving home with my wife to sneak in a training run.
Are you traveling alone? Thanks to the technology we have today, you can order a car to come pick you up, make a music playlist, and track your run all from the same smartphone.
If you look hard enough, you’ll always find a time to run.
4. To And From Birthdays
Being from a small family, we didn’t really have too many birthday parties growing up. There were a few birthdays each year, with a few people, and a few gifts.
Well, that was until I met my wife.
Her side of the family is big…really big. There are enough kids to have a birthday every weekend of the year.
And they’re not really even birthdays. I think the term “extravaganza” would do them more justice. And if running weren’t such a priority, I’d probably spend most weekends chasing down sugar rushes and helium highs with the neighborhood clown.
And being the introvert I am, constant social get-togethers can wear me out. I can only hold my extravert switch on for so long. But this leads to an even more powerful run. It’s almost like the solitude of running empowers you to run further because you fuel from the energy that spending time alone can bring.
So how do you sneak in a run when you are committed to weekend parties and engagements? Another easy one! Run TO and FROM the party.
Not only do you get your training run in, but it also helps when you’re not in the party mood. That’s because you suddenly become excited to go because it becomes apart of your run.
So let’s say you have a 14-mile training run and the house is 7 miles away. One option is running to the party and back.
Yes, you break up your run, but separating your run is better than no run at all. So maybe you add an extra mile or two to compensate for the downtime.
Weekend warriors don’t strive for perfection; we strive for results. If you always put in an honest and consistent effort, then you will always cross the finish line.
A second option is to map out an extra long route either TO or FROM the party.
Take the same example where the house is 7 miles away. Leave early from the party and design a 14-mile route home. Use Map My Run to design your route.
Either option, you won’t just find time to run, but you’ll be in an overall better mood for the party. And here’s the best part, you won’t feel so bad eating a piece of that cake that you say you’re not going to eat but end up eating anyway.
5. Give Your Lunch Break A Whole New Meaning
This one is for the nine to fivers.
If you’re chained down to a desk all day at work, do yourself a favor, and spend your lunch break moving. If you have a long enough break, go outside and run.
For a few years I worked a job where I sat at a desk for most of the day on the phone. I’d make and receive somewhere just north of 100 calls per day.
Sure, I loved helping customers and serving others, but after a while, you need a break. Remember, when give time to yourself, you can then give more to others. So during my hour lunch break every day I would walk or run. This also helped with the negative impacts sitting all day has on your health.
If you want this to work, make your training runs shorter during the week. This way you can run on your lunch break. Then simply run one long run on the weekend.
Plus, when you come back from lunch, your hunger tends to go away. But, if you do end up eating, just pick at something small throughout the day. Either that or stuff your face the last 5 minutes before your break is finished.
Hey, running is not always pretty. Plus as a manager and runner myself, if I saw someone rush out the door for a 55-minute run then come back and devour a 4-course meal, throw on some deodorant, and pick up the phone and start making calls, I’d be impressed. Plus I know who’d be on my mind when the next promotion opportunity rolled around.
So if you don’t have the time to run after work, run during your lunch break. Not only will you have the time to run, but your productivity will sore!
6. Be A Meaningful Specific, Not A Broad Generality
Most people major in minor things. Instead of focusing on one particular aspect of life, they jump around because the truth is, most of us don’t always know what we want in life. Or we do but it feels so natural and enjoyable that we necessarily think of it as something to pursue professionally.
I will use myself as an example. As you probably already know, I run ultramarathons. I went from running a few miles on a treadmill to running 100-mile ultramarathons in a short period.
During that time I ran a whole lot of training runs. And do you know what I would do after each run?
I’d write how many miles I ran, the time it took, and how well it went. I’d write about any observations I had in relation to my body. I’d write about any insights I had or great ideas.
But I never thought anything of it. Running and writing were just natural to me.
Then one day I thought, “I sure would have liked to know what I know now when I first started.” So it was time to turn around and lend a hand to next runner through the best way I communicate: writing.
I then started this website and wrote two books, The Ultramarathon Guide: A Simple Approach To Running Your First Ultramarathon and A Runner’s Secret: One Run Will Get It Done. I also have many other projects in the works behind the scenes.
Since writing and running were a regular part of my life, I didn’t realize I could pursue it professionally. Because when something is so close to your heart, it feels more like who you are, not what you do.
But here’s the point…
Once you find something you’re passionate about and pursue it, life becomes SOOO much more uncomplicated.
You’re no longer dabbling in a hundred little things; you now focus on only one or two. Because those one or two things are not just what you do, they’re who you are.
For me it’s my faith, family, running, writing, and my day job.
And of course, you try new activities and visit new places. But before I found my passion, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out just what that was. And if you don’t know yours, guess what, you do!
But it’s who you are so it’s difficult to see it as such.
And you know the best part?
That passion leads to your unique GIFT. Remember, you are one of a kind.
And that unique GIFT leads you to the purpose of your life.
If you don’t have a purpose yet, then have faith. If you set the intention, your brain will look for patterns, and by doing so, you will begin to find the answer.
Trust that an answer will come.
Where focus goes energy flows. When you focus on what you love, your life suddenly simplifies. And when you spend less time spinning your wheels, you then gain more free time, and you can use that time for yourself and for your next run.
7. Gym With Childcare
This one is short and sweet. Most gyms now have childcare. If your gym doesn’t then it’s time to find one that does.
If you’re home with your kids and can’t leave them behind, go to the gym, drop them off at the gym’s daycare, and go for a run. Remember, you must take care of yourself so you can then take better care of others.
Now, I definitely do NOT recommend running on a treadmill over running outside. But I do recommend a treadmill over not running at all. Plus, if you keep your hands off the handles, the Stairmaster is very useful also. You can count it as a run, and it’s also an excellent change of pace.
Simply put, taking advantage of gym childcare will provide you more time to run.
8. Bring The Kids Along
While we are on the subject of kids, bringing them along is an option as well to find more time to run.
Running while raising your children can be tricky at times. Most of us want to spend as much time as possible with them, especially if we are busy working most of the time. But if we can give time for ourselves, then we can give more to others, and in this case provide more to our children. Hiring a babysitter for a few hours can do the trick. But if you can’t get away from those little rugrats then buy a jogging stroller and hit the streets. They will most likely enjoy it more than you anyway.
If a longer run is in need, then bring along some snacks and a movie. It’s a win-win for everyone. Your children will be a part of a positive experience, and you will add extra resistance to your training. Why not push them around the neighborhood instead of chasing them around the house?
9. Use Up Some Vacation Time
For my 30th birthday I flew to Florida to run a 58-mile training run. This was in preparation for my 116 mile ultramarathon across the state of Florida. I couldn’t think of any better way to celebrate my 30th birthday than doing what I love most, outside in the weather I love most, with the people I love most.
I’ve even combined this one with the tuck and roll. Where I’m from, a typical vacation is heading east to the beach. Well, on the way, it’s not unusual that I get dropped off to run. Once I’m out of the car, it’s one straight shot to the start of vacation.
So if you have the time, take a vacation, and use some of that time to run under the sun.
10. To and From Work
You’d be surprised, but there’s a rather large run commute community out in the world. This community is most popular in the UK. But there are people in the US who do it as well.
Here are a few ways to run commute:
- Run both to and from work.
- Drive to work, run home, run to work the next day, then drive home.
- Take public transportation or an Uber to work and run home.
Say it’s Friday, and you have a long run coming up but your weekend is booked. Simply wake up, pack your running gear, and Uber or get dropped off to work. Then when it’s time to punch the clock get dressed and run home.
So let’s say your work is 15 miles away and you have a 20-mile training run. What you can do is run 2.5 miles away from work, then run back to work, then run home.
Plus running to and from work snaps you out of autopilot. It takes you away from your same old daily lethargic routines.
We wake up in our square house and drive in our square car only to reach our square office for the day.
How about we run some circles to and from work to shake it up a bit?
By running to and from work, you find the time to run. You will fill in the gaps where you’d otherwise be driving. Not a bad way to get yourself moving before work or to decompress afterward either.
11. When Running Errands
Just a few days ago I needed to pick up food for my son’s school lunches. I had an hour and half run planned also that day. So instead of taking 15 minutes to warm up the car plus the 15 minutes there and back in traffic (45 min total), I went on my run and picked up their lunch on the way. Sure I was running with a bag of food for 45 minutes, but when you lead a busy life, you learn how to multitask.
I’ll never forget when I took a job interview while running and landed a face-to-face interview. At least when I said I was a multitasker, I wasn’t exaggerating.
So when you need to run a few errands throw on your running shoes and get going. Hit the bank, stop by the mailbox, and pick up a few groceries, all on the same run. Sure, you have to stop a few times, but you can treat the stops like your aid stations. Stop, refuel, and start running again. Only a week ago I hit the bank and grabbed dinner for the family, all in the same run.
Let’s Bring it Home
So there you have it. You now have more time to run TODAY.
Know that anything worth doing in life will take effort. It takes hard work, it takes believing in yourself, and you must commit your time and energy. You literally can do anything you want in life if you give it enough attention and set the intention.
Scientists say we experience 70,000-80,000 thoughts per day. And there are only 86,400 seconds in a day. We basically have a new thought every second!
Can you imagine if you put just a fraction of those thoughts into believing in what you CAN do instead of what you CAN’T do? Thinking of what’s GREAT in your life instead of what’s BAD? Thinking of what you LOVE instead of what you FEAR?
If you focus on finding time to run then guess what? You WILL find time to run. I understand we all live different lives, and all of the tips I offer may not work for every person’s situation but let me remind you of something…
The most athletic person in the world has the same 24 hours as you. The most wealthiest person in the world has the same 24 hours as you. And the most intelligent person in the world has the same 24 hours as you.
The time to run is already there. It’s about finding the time and making it work for you. It takes some thought, and it takes a little creativity.
If you want to run those miles then trust me, you will run those miles.
I’ve learned how to use time to my advantage and you can too!
It’s about making it a MUST and taking action. And if you do that, if you make it a MUST and take action, then you will ALWAYS find time to run. There is always a way because there is always time available.
And with that, I’d like to say thank you for your TIME. I hope spending your time reading this will save you more time to run. That’s how you spend time to save time. Spending a few minutes reading something like this could save you hours in the future.
That’s why it’s always best to learn from those who have already accomplished the goal you want to reach. Learning someone else’s strategy in a few days can save you YEARS.
So with that, if you want to find more TIME and run a 5k, 10, half-marathon, marathon, 50k, 50-mile, 100k, or 100-mile ultramarathon, allow me to save you time and take a look at my book below. I teach my PROVEN system for running any distance by running only ONE day per week. It’s simple, just click the book image below and start training for a further distance TODAY!
Ebook version available here.
And if you haven’t already subscribed to our newsletter for exclusive quotes and content, please enter your email below. Thank you and Live On The Run!