“I just don’t have the time.”
That’s what we hear over and over again from people who don’t get off the couch. It is probably the most common excuse for not getting healthier, for not exercising for not taking control of their lives.
“How do we do it?”
Is another question we get very often when they see what we do. How do we squeeze in not just a few healthful activities, but marathon training and ironman training and everything that we do?
It’s not magic. We don’t have a secret time bending device that gives us more time. We do have strategies to make it all work. I will share some of mine.
The first and primary thing is setting priorities. If you don’t prioritize an activity chances are you won’t get to it. What this means is the first and most important step is inside your own head. Make working out a priority. This makes it on one hand the easiest thing in the world, because it is entirely under your control and the hardest thing in the world because you have to make a decision and be accountable.
Where many people fail is to see a new activity, whether it is reading, writing or running as an ‘extra’ thing they have to figure out how to do. You can’t expect yourself to squeeze in additional activities in a day. You already are using 100% of your time. When you want to add a new activity you are going to need to not do something else.
This immediately makes it a sacrifice of something we might refer to as ‘free time’. Most of us value that free time, whether for TV watching or sleeping or socializing, there is a cost to it. It is not really free. So we are setting ourselves up to fail because we are telling ourselves that the new activity is a sacrifice, a hardship. We are putting ourselves immediately into a mindset of scarcity and personal penalty.
It is a question of prioritization. Those of us who are getting our workouts in are not doing something we used to do. We decided that we value the workout more than we valued that other thing. That other thing might be watching TV, or sleeping, or eating lunch with workmates.
If you want to change your life, look at it and see what things you can reprioritize. Don’t set yourself up to fail.
There are three common blocks of time that people will use for workouts; morning, noon and night. You need to be flexible with your time. Don’t restrict yourself by saying I can only work out in the morning, when it’s daylight, after I’ve eaten a honey-bagel, when I’ve gotten at least 8 hours of sleep, it’s not raining, snowing, windy or cold… If all of those things line up I’ll work out. You’ll never succeed if you put those types of strictures on yourself.
I personally like to do my regular workouts at lunch time. When I first started working out this was a double win for me because it kept me from over-eating at lunch. As I get into heavier training schedules I have to schedule larger blocks of time. I will typically schedule afternoon or nights for these longer workouts. I find physiologically my body feels better later in the day and I get higher quality workouts in. I like to do my track workouts in the evening.
I’m not a morning person, but I totally agree that getting the workout done in the morning before work is the best time to do it. As the day progresses most people lose energy and have difficulty gathering energy for an afternoon or evening effort. If you can train yourself to get up and get the work done in the morning you will be successful.
Again, it’s a zero sum game. There are only so many hours in the day and whether or not you are using them well, you are using them. If you are going to get up an hour earlier and go for a run, you’d do well to figure out how you are going to go to bed an hour earlier, because just sleeping less is not a long term success strategy.
And, it is a long term thing. Look at the schedule not for today, but for the week, for the month, for the year, for the decade and for your life. Set a priority to live that life. Figure out a way to get your workout in and be successful.
I’ll see you out there.
Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy. Chris is the author of “The Mid-Packer’s Lament”, and “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy”, short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack. Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at www.runnerati.com. Chris’ Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at www.runrunlive.com. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners and the Goon Squad.
Email me at cyktrussell at Gmail dot com
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