By Lesley Hocking
As I face my daughter’s first birthday head on, I am realizing that my life as a runner is changing. As much as I fantasize about refreshing my dedication to the sport, returning to a no-excuses approach regardless of the time or energy it takes, I have to re-envision what it means to be an athlete.
I imagine that all runners go through this stage, whether facing chronic injury, entering parenthood, or graduating to the masters’ scene, running must evolve if it is to remain a part of life. Thus, I decided to dedicate this piece to the best ways to juggle the demands of career, family, domestic maintenance, and rehab (in short, life) while maximizing the time spent on running.
Be picky. Pick one day a week to be a diehard runner. Make no excuses to miss your big day, even if it means rescheduling. Think of this as a chance to be selfish. Some people schedule pedicures; you schedule a much more powerful kind of self-improvement.
Double-team. Make your chosen day a long workout day and get some of the benefits of a long run while targeting a specific training need. Consider, for example, a long run with the second half transitioning into a progression run. Or do a glorified warm-up for four miles, then hit two by two miles at 10k race pace with a mile at half marathon pace between. Cool down with another glorified three miles, slowly.
Variety is the spice of life. With aging runners, I’ve come to believe that strength training has to be more variable than ever, as certain muscle groups tend to get neglected by sticking to an old routine. It doesn’t have to be more frequent, more advanced, or more strenuous, but a lifting regimen must allow the body to be strong enough musculoskeletally to build a training volume in-season.
Make running fit your life instead of making your life fit your running. Find spaces in your daily life to be mindful of your fitness even when you can’t find time for a run. This might mean tightening your core and fixing your posture in the middle of a meeting. It might mean doing shallow knee bends while waiting in line at the DMV. It might mean lifting your daughter over your head in two sets of ten. At the end of the day, all activity counts; muscles don’t know whether they are lifting dumbbells or grocery bags.
If you have found other steps that help you adapt your running into new stages of life, feel free to email me at [email protected]. This article originally appeared in the May/Jun 2014 issue of Level Renner. Get your free subscription today (box in upper right portion of screen). Since it’s all free, the little things like getting on our subscriber list go a long way in helping us grow!