Want to try trail running, but don't know where to start? Join the (totally free!) Trail Running Jumpstart eCourse

A Busy Mom’s Lifehack for Quality Running Time

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash::

I screwed up the other day and I felt horrible about it for a week. For the record, my intentions were good. I was in the middle of a work project, but had an important appointment coming up the same morning. My brain was on fire, my writing was flowing, things were getting checked off my list, my to-dos were dwindling.

So, I canceled the appointment. Yay! I’m accomplishing! I’m seeing it through. I’m being true to the ME priorities that I was trying so hard to stick to.

But the other person was totally put out, inconvenienced, pretty frustrated, let down. Her schedule was toast because I canceled, um, sort of last minute. I later apologized and came clean about my poor judgement and my inner struggle to win the day and not procrastinate with work I felt so passionate about. But still.

It kinda came down to trying to do “everything” and can I just say that I hate everything about that word. Because there is no everything. And you can’t possibly do it all.

So much of our days is triage; figuring out which things need the most attention. This is normal, this is life. But when things get overwhelming, I know I have to cut something out. Like maybe I don’t really need another must-read book from the library, when I can’t finish the stack my the nightstand. Maybe we subtract a family outing in favor of down time on a Sunday evening to avoid a meltdown (mine, not the kids’). Maybe if I leave the random sock on the hallway floor someone else will pick it up or I’ll stop caring about it. It does match the rug after all.

But when it feels really hard to subtract something, then you have to get clever with time management and setting priorities. It could be making detailed lists or having a long, cozy chit-chat with your calendar, which is what I love the most. I could plan all day. I love long, sharp pencils, red folders, and all my best friends at Staples.

Ultimately, when life overflow starts pushing into my running time, then I know I’m in trouble. Because we really need that time, right? It’s like water or oxygen or that little bowl of chocolate ice cream before bed.

So, being the plan-loving-fix-it-type that I am, I ruminated about this on my next run and I came up with a little time management idea that’s part lifehack and part smart training, with a side of self-care.

How to divide your run into 3 parts that feed your body, mind, and soul

No matter how long my run is, I can split it up into 3 parts that give me everything I need for managing the day ahead. Try slicing your next run into these 3 equal parts. You can split it by miles or minutes, whatever feels right to you, then focus on one area at a time.

1. the BODY:

You know how those first 2 miles of almost any run feel crappy? Yeah, what’s up with that? Don’t despair, take advantage of it and dive right into the feeling. This first part of your run is all about how your body is waking up, starting to move its muscles, stretch and work. Take this time to notice and appreciate it! Is that achy knee something more serious or does it just need to warm up a bit? How’s your form? Feeling slumpish? Straighten up. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Watch your breath like a yogi-master and use it to get into a rhythm. Say these words to your body, “Hey, look at you! You are a runner! Thanks for getting me out here and making me stronger, making me healthier, keeping me sane!” When you’re in the groove, move to #2.

2. the MIND:

Now that your body is chugging along, you can put that waked-upness to good use. Let yourself dwell on something that needs some think time. Does the home budget need tweaking? Does that project at work need revamping? Does the kids’ bedtime routine need a make-over? Think it out, baby! Give yourself 10 minutes, a third of  your run, or whatever allotment works for the length of time you’ll be out running. Just keep in mind that you still have one more third of your run to go and you don’t want to skimp on the last part!

3. the SOUL:

Ahhhhh, you did it. Your body is rocking it and your brain got some valuable work done. Sure, you might not have figured out how to help your highschooler with linear equations, but you figured out how to find someone who can. Check and check! Now for the part of the run that gives you the most; the letting go. Time to loosen the body and turn off the think machine. Relax your face, your jaw, your shoulders, your heart, and your mind. Let the worries fly off the tips of your hair like drops of sweat. Notice the plum trees starting to blossom, the sound of your feet hitting the pavement, the feeling of just running. Congratulate yourself! Not for doing all the things, but for doing what you can. Celebrate getting out there. Nice job!

One final important tip

If you like this little quality run threesome idea, great. If not, scrap it. No, really. Or tweak it. Or re-arrange it. There is no right way. And remember there’s no everything. Try one thing. You might think about your body at the end of your run when you’re in the swing of it. If you’re a trail runner it might be so darned pretty out there, you might get stuck in the nature-soul-feeding frenzy part and stay there. And that’s OK. You can do your mind work and think about meal planning on the way home…..when you’re hungry!

I would love to hear what you think about on your runs. Do you use that time to ponder or let it go or both? Share with me in the comments below. xo ~Laura

2 thoughts on “A Busy Mom’s Lifehack for Quality Running Time

  1. This is great!! And so reflective of what happens to me out on the trail – I get really amazing ideas
    Out there about 1/2 way into the run – inspiration is flowing the body is warm – and the downhill is just about enjoying that perfect moment for me. Thanks for all the awesome inspiration Laura!! – proudfoot

  2. Hey, Emily! Yes, I love it when inspiration is flowing and the body is warm – what a perfect way to describe that “in the groove” moment! And the inspiration feeling is mutual; your art brings so much light and lift to to me. And here’s a fun circle….Sarah, my coaching client, sent me her first payment tucked inside of a card with your artwork. That’s when I KNEW I was doing the right thing by hanging up my trail running coach shingle. It felt like a hug from you! Hope to connect with you soon, ~Laura

Whatcha think? Throw me a comment here - thanks!