Cramming as much as possible into a day is part and parcel of modern-day life, especially if you’re an aspiring endurance athlete. If you haven’t found the time to read up on every sports training manual telling you how to train more effectively or every productivity book to boost workday output, let us summarize it all and put it into running training terms.
MAKE RUNNING APPOINTMENTS
It’s like meal prep, but with your calendar. Almost every productivity method involves some kind of weekly review or look at the schedule ahead. Every Sunday (or your preferred day), spend a few minutes planning how your training fits in with the rest of your life. Look at your work schedule and your family/partner’s schedule and book your runs the same way you would book a work meeting. When the runs are locked in place on your calendar, you’re much less likely to skip them, and you’ll avoid the constant rescheduling you often end up doing when your training calendar isn’t in line with the rest of your life.
While multi-tasking might not be ideal when you’re trying to get an important presentation done, it can be a great way to add more mobility work. Do your 10-minute yoga routine, core strengthening or physical therapist-mandated foam rolling and stretches while watching an episode of your favorite show. The same applies to chopping your vegetables for stir-fries and soups and prepping your made-from-scratch lunches for the week while you’re making the night’s dinner. Suddenly, you’ll realize you’re looking forward to getting those helpful tasks done!
With all the attention on decluttering by getting rid of possessions that don’t spark joy, it could be good to apply that to your training. If there’s a workout you genuinely dread every single week (and not dread in a ‘I know I’ll feel good at the end’ sort of way), consider letting it go from your training calendar. Running should absolutely spark joy (during, but especially after it’s done!) Plus, the less stuff crowding your closet, the easier it is to grab the right running shoes at a moment’s notice.
STACK YOUR HABITS
Habit stacking is a sneaky way to start adding new, good habits to pre-existing habits, making the new ones more likely to stick. To add some sneaky strength training, take a page from ultra-runner and coffee entrepreneur Jax Mariash’s morning routine. As her coffee brews in a French press, she does air squats. You can do the same or try something like calf raises while brushing your teeth. By adding these quick little exercises on top of things you’re already doing as part of your routine, you can make it through an entire bodyweight strength-training routine in a day just by moving while waiting.
BATCH YOUR WORK
The Pomodoro technique — doing work in batches of 25-minute chunks followed by a 5-minute break — might be perfect for getting your core or mobility done in a doable 25-minute chunk, especially if you know you can scroll Instagram for the 5-minute break at the end. The same might even apply to getting through a long run. If you can run for 25 minutes, then walk for 5 while you play on your phone, it might be easier to get through a 2-hour run.
FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
Any goal is easier to reach if you’re held accountable by someone other than yourself. Whether you’re training for a marathon or getting back into running, having someone checking in on your progress might be the push you need to keep moving. In 2016, researchers found enlisting a new companion increased the amount of exercise people took, and virtual partners count, too. Use the MapMyRun app to join an online community and share your goals, or enlist a friend to keep you on track and maybe join you for that early morning run you usually dread.
In his book, “The Checklist Manifesto,” Atul Gawande talks about the importance of laying steps for every task into checklist form. Do this for your running life — think about every step that goes into getting out the door to post-run recovery. It’s a great way to start noticing things you’re missing, like that pre-run exercise your physical therapist recommended or your post-run serving of protein. You can also get creative and create things like a pre-race checklist now, rather than waiting until the day of a race to start panicking about where your favorite socks are.
Productivity experts suggest time tracking to figure out where you’re wasting the most time at work (email and social media are usually the major time sucks). But you can do an audit of your running or your nutrition as well. You can track your run training by logging daily steps, mileage, minutes spent on core, strength or mobility (you can log all of these in MapMyRun) to see how much movement you’re really doing. For nutrition, try at least a week of logging your food in MyFitnessPal — you’ll likely see your afternoon snack or pre-meeting lunch has room for improvement.