Running a Mile a Minute: Multi-tasking and sneaking into your day ‘little’ things to improve your running

We live in some pretty manic times, and for most mortal runners that means fitting in training when it’s possible. Realistically this looks like runs at 5am, parents pushing jogging strollers or doing intervals around the track while their kids use the long jump pit as a sandbox. (I have vivid memories of making sandcastles back when I was a kid!)
woman running
Multi-tasking isn’t so much a nice way to stay ahead of the game anymore, it’s evolved into a necessity, a way to survive. The law even has had to step in banning cell phones or eating while driving. For runners we KNOW there are other things we ‘should’ be doing outside of just putting in the miles; the stretching, the core work, the icing, the weights. Though for many, life seems to get in the way of the ‘little’ things.

BUT, I’ve been floored by how much can actually be crammed into those 24 hours by some people; it can be tricky finding the windows of time but for the highly productive individual some of the keys seems to getting creative, organizing a system, and then making a routine. Here’s just a few tips I can share:

* Roll your foot on a tennis ball to keep your plantar fascia happy – do it double time if you’ve got a really long tube and work two feet at once. (I’ve used an old shipping tube that you’d send posters in) Super easy to do as most of us are sitting at some point during the day.
* Sit on a tennis ball or golf ball and similarly work out knots or kinks in your glutes and upper hamstrings.
* Foam roll your IT Band and other areas while watching TV
* Memorize on the run - I passed all of my Spanish classes because during lots of my easy runs I’d get my vocab or conjugations stuck in my head and work on memorizing. The same thing worked for my physiology classes where I’d have to memorize all the muscles, their origins, insertions, and function.
* Plan the day en-route - like above a lot of people use the brain time during a run to figure out what they need to do for the day, work out carpools, mentally ‘write’ emails (I do that!) so that when they get home they can physically write that down and then get to work on the rest of the day.
* Cooking stretch – I can’t cook but I can microwave and use that timer to bust out some stretches. We know that we need to hole a particular stretch for at least 20 seconds for it to count so just follow the clock, do some hamstring, quad, calf, etc. stretches and then get your grub on.
* Planks, core and crunches anywhere – Many watch TV at some point…get sweating during commercial breaks. Also, hear me out, this one may not be so much for the shy runner, but I’ve been able to squeeze in some core work in some random places while I’ve been traveling or I just am stuck waiting somewhere. (Airport terminal, park, etc.) Seek out a more secluded spot if you’re embarrassed, but especially if you’ll never see these people again, who really cares? :P kids running
* Babysitting duties - Parents are master multi-taskers and summer is out so the kids are home. Michael Wardian does the vast majority of his runs on the treadmill while babysitting; getting up early is an often used run time, doing loops around a track or playground allows you to do your workout while still making sure your kids are okay. This is also a chance to get your family involved in fitness…just say, “Do like Mommy and Daddy are doing.” :)
* Get it together - Be efficient by laying out all your running gear, clothes, and shoes the night before so you can literally jump into them and get going. Same works if you pack your gym bag and go run at a work break; set an alarm and jet out, don’t dally.
* The Social Network - I’m a runner and I have lots of friends that are runners, not that you have to follow suit, but if you’re on a team or meet a running group you will find that connecting on a run is actually fun. You don’t have to turn your entire social life into running, but at the same time even if most of your ‘free time’ is spent running or with running people that doesn’t always leave you socially deprived.
running rainbow
Other fun facts that should relieve any guilt you feel about going for a run when there is ‘other things’ you could do. Just because you’re running over something else it doesn’t ALWAYS make you selfish and here’s why:

* More productive: Either starting your day with a run or taking a break during the day to exercise makes you more productive on the whole. Companies have begun hosting workout classes for their employees and encouraging them to go for just this reason. I know I’ve gotten some of my best creative inspiration or solved other problems while running.

* Happier: Runners are happier in general, partly because of endorphins, partly because of seeing their hard work pay off and being motivated. That’s why it’s not selfish if you need that run time because it probably makes you better to the people around you.

* Save on therapy: Tied into the happier thing, there are some therapists now who do their sessions while working out or moving. It’s been said that the brain is able to work through emotional problems on another level, better, while actively DOING something. Hmmm, go for a run and save on paying for a shrink, sounds cool.

Whew, okay I hope some of these have helped debase the idea that you can’t sneak in a few of the ‘little’ things into your day…or if nothing else made you think I’m crazier for doing planks in the airport. Oh well, either way the joke is on you because I already knew I was crazy. :)

1) What are some of the tips or tricks you have to make the most of your time or work some of those ‘little’ things into your day?

2) If you’re a parent how do you manage your training with parenting duties?

3) If you run with a team or have a running group, do you feel that the time with them also helps leaving you feeling fulfilled socially?

4) What’s something interesting you’ve recently heard about how running makes the rest of your life either more productive, happier, or just better?

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6 Responses to Running a Mile a Minute: Multi-tasking and sneaking into your day ‘little’ things to improve your running

  1. I love this blog! I really love social runs with friends, even friends who are not as fast as me, I will just use that as my easy run and try to push and help them, so I get a boost from the run but also from encouraging them and the social aspect too. I also squeeze in runs between working at my big girl job and heading to the track to coach.

    To me, running definitely impacts my writing (I’m a professional writer- technical writing like training manuals). I really believe that working out and exercising impacts your brain because sometimes I get good ideas for writing after a workout. It’s like it opens up a part of you that isn’t there when you’re at the desk or at your real job!

    • awww, that first line puts a big smile on my face, thanks so much!! i’m with u, the social connections i’ve made thru running have made for some of the best friendships. :)

  2. Julia @ Pain, Pride, Perseverance

    i ALWAYS do my planks, ab work, lifting, stretching, foam rolling, etc while watching my favorite show at night and while my dinner is cooking. feels efficient and i feel good that im doing SOMETHING besides sitting there. also i laughed at how you said “we live in manic times” ….i am always thinking “wait. is it me thats manic? or everything around me?” ;) have a great day friend!

  3. I’m bad about doing the “little things,” so I have no tips and will probably use these…

    I do always study so much better after running. And, fitting in a run puts structure and purpose into my day, making me put structure and purpose into the rest of my day, making me overall much more productive.

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