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Cooper River Bridge Run Column - January 24th, 2005
Finding the Time to Run

By Art Liberman

Now that you’ve mailed off your Bridge Run race application, it’s time to seal the deal by making a personal commitment to train properly. By following the schedule that most closely matches your current running and fitness level, you will be greatly increasing your chances of staying injury free and enjoying, rather than surviving the race.

But putting in those miles is only one part of the equation. Finding the time to run can oftentimes be the biggest challenge, particularly for those who are new to the sport. It seems the busiest people are able to accomplish so much yet still find the time to workout regularly. How do they do it?

It’s no secret. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Because regular exercisers view health and wellness as one of the top priorities in their lives, something truly valued, they make the time to do it. Even if it means waking up to run at 5:00! The key to finding time to run is planning ahead. View that time as a non-negotiable appointment with yourself, something to be protected.

Recording all of your professional commitments and personal responsibilities/activities in an organizational planner on a weekly basis is a great way to identify available pockets of time that can be best used to run. Begin by entering in order of their importance those commitments for which you have no control of their time such as your work schedule, meetings, appointments, etc. Also include the time you shower, dress, commute, eat, and sleep.

Next, make a list of tasks and activities that don’t have to be done at a specific time or may vary week to week (shopping, laundry, etc.). These will be inserted into your planner after you’ve penned in the time slots when you will train. Keep in mind that the best time of the day to run is when you’re most likely to do it!

Research studies indicate that those who exercise early in the morning are more consistent and stick with their programs as compared to people that workout later in the day. Morning is the time when you probably are most rested both physically and mentally. The later in the day you wait to run, the likelihood that unexpected personal or professional obligations will arise, sabotaging your best-laid plans. You may also find that your motivation drops to its lowest level after a stressful or physically demanding workday. On the other hand, there are many runners who can’t wait to hit the roads after a busy day, finding it a great way to de-stress and re-energize.

Don’t procrastinate! Insufficient training is a leading cause of injury at the Bridge Run. Sure, ten weeks may seem like a long time to prepare; however, you can’t cram for this exam! Mileage needs to be built slowly and consistently to insure that you will have a safe and enjoyable Bridge Run experience. If you haven’t begun training, start now!

Commitment Tools

Announce your Goal – Whether you simply want to complete your first Bridge Run or finish near the top of your age group, sharing your goal with others and putting it down on paper will reinforce your commitment and make you more accountable.

Chart your Progress – You will be more likely to maintain your motivation and stick with your training program if you record the miles you’ve run (along with any other data you wish) in a training log.

Just Say “No” – Depending upon the time you have available to train, there may be occasions when you have to politely decline a social invitation to fit in a run. Don’t confuse this with being compulsive but rather, invoking self-discipline as a means to accomplish an important goal.

Plan Ahead – Writing in your planner the day and time you plan to run oftentimes isn’t enough, particularly for runners with family responsibilities. Make the necessary arrangements in advance (childcare, cooking dinner, etc.) to insure that your workout gets done.

Be Flexible – If you are unable to run as planned due to an unforeseen circumstance, resort to “Plan B”. For example, if the babysitter doesn’t show up, take the kids to a gym that offers daycare service and run on the treadmill. Or make arrangements to run when your spouse comes home from work.

“Just Do It” - Use Nike’s famous catch phrase as a tool in developing the self-discipline and mental toughness to make yourself run, even on those days when your motivation is low. More times than not, after returning from your run, you will be glad you did! Over time, you will discover that working out will be a pleasurable experience that you look forward to doing regularly.

Ignore Distractions – Just prior to the time you plan to run, don’t let the computer, TV, telephone, etc. grab your attention. Don’t let that time you set aside to train slip away.

Unforeseen Glitches – Even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. If a family emergency or personal illness arises, just resume your training ASAP.

Mother Nature - Don’t let inclement weather stop you in your tracks. By dressing appropriately, running in the rain or cold can be an exhilarating experience. Also realize that the Bridge Run will go on as scheduled, rain or shine, yet another reason to learn to face the elements!

Self-Doubt and Anxiety – The best way to combat these stressors is to make sure that you get those training runs completed. Knowing that you have trained properly increases self-confidence. Use mental strategies like visualization (seeing yourself in your mind’s eye cross the finish line) and self-talk (telling yourself during times when your motivation to run is low, that you will enjoy the race by training properly).

Be Resourceful – There are numerous ways to create and maximize training opportunities:
- Will your boss let you come into work later in the morning to run if you make up the time at the end of the day? Can you run during lunch?
- Can your spouse or kids help with chores around the house?
- Can your kids join you while training? Examples: You can use a baby jogger, kids can ride their bikes, run on a treadmill while kids watch TV, etc.

Training Partner - Finding a friend to train with is both fun and motivating. Be sure that their pace closely matches yours. And above all, if they become a no-show, run anyway.

Reward Yourself – Treat yourself to a special reward (a new running outfit, massage, dinner at a nice restaurant, etc.) for accomplishing short-term goals along the way.

Consider This – If you realize that you are truly over committed with life’s demands or are unable to train properly for this year’s race, you still can enjoy Bridge Run weekend festivities: Do the Bridge Walk, volunteer to help, or watch this year’s race.

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