Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Have you had your fill of all the motivational posters? You know the ones that basically accuse you of being too fat and too lazy to get off your rear and head out the door. I wonder if the people who create all of these signs ever stop to think, some people may have legitimate barriers that are keeping them from becoming the runner they want to be. I normally work late afternoon or night hours. My schedule affords me the opportunity to sleep during the day and get up and run before the kids make it home from school. I also have an extremely supportive wife, allowing me the ability to be gone for hours running while she is being mommy to our kids. I do the same in return for her, but if we were a solo act it would be much more of a challenge.
Over the past several months I've had to work one week a month, during the day. What an eye opening experience! As many times as I've read or heard about people getting up at 4 or 5am, I figured I could just do the same. Not! My body simply refuses to function that early in the morning. As a result my mileage suffered on these weeks. I did get up early a couple of days, but my runs were not long and they were not the same quality. Add the fact that its dark and absolutely freezing outside and it was really difficult to be excited about running. And that's coming from an experienced runner! Had it not been for my buddy Miles (affectionately named treadmill in the basement) I wouldn't have even done the little I did do. All of this got me thinking about ways to overcome running barriers. Real ways. Ways you could get three runs per week in. Something beyond the feeble attempts at motivating via Facebook. (Side note, I post those pics all the time. Love them. So please don't think I'm knocking them.) My suggestions are just that, suggestions. All of these were under the assumption that it will be easier to find 30-60 minutes on the weekend to get your third run in. All the suggestions in the world will not solve your problems but if you're motivated and ready to be a runner, lets find a way to make it happen.
1) It's not the best solution and certainly not the most fun but if you have or can afford the luxury of a treadmill in your house, meeting your goals might be easier to achieve. You still have to find ways to motivate yourself to get on it and figure out when. Try to commit to two days during the week. Focus on time rather than mileage. 20-30 minutes twice a week is a good start. As your fitness level increases you can increase your mileage, comfortably. If you're a stay at home parent maybe nap time would work best. Maybe nap time is your rest time, in which case you may have to come up with another solution. Say perhaps, a running buddy.
2) Having someone to run with or there to help with the kids will make a big difference. Each of you take 30 minutes on the treadmill while the other watches the kids. I know many stay at home parents set up play dates. Why not find other parents who want to run and incorporate your training runs into the play date. Head out in groups of two for your run while the others take their turn at watching the kids. Again, if you can do this as little as two week days you will be on the right track. As added motivation you could sign up for a local 5k, as a group. Now everyone is invested and working toward the same goal.
3) Once my kids got a little older and they could ride their bikes, my training runs became "something to do" in their eyes. We would load up the car with their bikes and head to the bike paths. They ride, I run. Over time I was able to increase their mileage and mine. Their motivation, Subway. They would be willing to ride 4, 5 or 6 miles in exchange for that tasty treat. I think I was probably setting a good example for them as well, while at the same time getting them some exercise, spending time together and creating memories. We also did hill training in exchange for Subway. Good times.
One of my fondest memories was a 7 mile run/bike with my daughter. About 3.5 miles into the run we found a dead garter snake on the road. I was forced to bring it home for a proper burial. Luckily, I always carried some extra TP in a plastic bag for those unforeseen emergencies. We used the plastic bag to get the snake, which she had already named "dead fred" home. Before allowing it to rest in peace she insisted on pictures.
4) Another option to look at is a gym or fitness center. Many now offer child care. I know people have different feelings on this but I figured it still deserved a mention. They usually charge per hour, per kid.
Whatever your plan, I personally believe that setting a goal will help keep you on track. In 2011 I wrote another article (motivational pic included) with tips on things that would you start running. You can find that here. Remember to be realistic about your goals. If you have limited time stick to training for a 5k or 10k. Longer distances will start to require more of a time commitment. Save those for when time is a little more available.
We all have barriers, some are bigger than others but life does happen. Hopefully some of these ideas will help or at least open you to thinking about a solution that would work for you. If you have another idea please feel free to post a comment (maybe someone else would benefit from your plan of attack).
And just remember, the motivational posters are not ment to insult you they are ment to inspire. Runners do not shun other runners (especially new runners) we embrace them into our world of suffering and reward.