Tuesday, 8 November 2011

How to fit in your weekday runs

I don't think I can be the only person to struggle with deciding when to fit my runs into my day during the week...and as marathon (and ultra) training ramps up and my weekday runs get longer, it's only going to get more difficult.  I'm probably more lucky than most, in that I don't need to worry about childcare, I can pretty much go out when I want, and I have lots of choices available, but I still haven't found a time that really suits me - having to commute up to 3 hours a day and spend a further 8 hours in the office does reduce the available time!

Early morning
When I started my current job just over a year ago, I ran or went to the gym in the morning - getting up at 5am or 5.30am, running before work.  The streets are empty, and (depending on the time of year) you get to experience the beautiful sunrise, and it always made me feel much more ready for work...it had the effect of reminding me that my life wasn't all about the office, going into work was just something I did during the day, it wasn't the reason I got up in the morning...running was!  I was also very lucky that my new manager was also a runner (or at least had been in his hey-day) and he was happy to let me change my hours to start half an hour later every morning at 9.30am, to give me time to run, shower and get into the office without having to rush!  So, sorted, you'd think, except that my boyfriend naturally always stays up late - he rarely goes to bed before midnight - and I really didn't want us to be going to bed at different times, but I was getting far too tired with only 5 hours sleep a night.

During weekdays, I also have the option of running at lunch time - many people in the office do, there are beautiful places to run very close to where I work (Hyde Park, along the Thames, St James Park and so on), and we have decent shower facilities.  However, this is something I've never tried and don't really fancy- in that short time available, I can't really run far enough to make it worth all the hassle, and I think that running around the very busy London streets filled with dawdling tourists to actually get to those beautiful places would probably be pretty stressful!

The option that has worked for me in my training for the last two marathons has been running at night.  I get home from work at about 7.45pm, have dinner, catch up with my boyfriend and spend a bit of time in front of the TV, and then at about 10pm (or as it was last night, 10.30pm after we'd finished watching Junior Apprentice) I head out for my run.  I know to a lot of people this seems like the least attractive option for when to run, but it has suited me - the streets are generally very quiet (except on a Friday night, when they're entertaining instead!) and I can still spend some time at home with Francis, watch some TV & relax after work, but also get the miles in.  However, it does mean that every night I run becomes a really late night, especially as by the time I get home, stretch, and shower...and more importantly calm down from the run, it's often the early hours of the morning before we get to bed.  I don't have to get up too early, especially as I still have my late 9.30am start at work, but it's not really normal! 

The commuter run
The fourth option for when I can run is something I've not tried before, but I've decided to give it a go.  I get the train home from work every day, and tonight, I'm going to get off the train a stop earlier than usual and run the rest of the way, with a rucksack for my stuff.

I'm hoping that this way, I can still get my miles in but reduce the impact on my time at home.  I'll be able to sleep until a normal time in the morning, and go to bed at a normal time at night.  I wont have to disappear in the middle of the evening, leaving Francis home alone, and it should help with the motivation too...once I'm ensconced on the sofa, it can be difficult to drag myself outside on a cold, dark, drizzly evening!  Also, by running during the time that I'm usually on the train and walking home from the station, I figure I'm actually saving myself some time too.

The only issue I foresee, is running with a rucksack, which is what has always put me off before.  I don't have a running specific rucksack, and don't want to buy a new one just yet, so tonight I'm using an old hydration pack with the water pouch removed.  I bought it ages ago and never used it, but will try it out, although if it doesn't feel comfortable (or if it's just not big enough!) I'll be starting a new series of blog posts reviewing running rucksacks!

I'll let you know how it goes....