When the Going Gets Tough, It Helps to Get Moving

>> Monday, May 23, 2011

My salvation these past several months has been my half marathon training. I changed up my routine quite a bit -- averaging 3 to 4 runs a week versus the usual 5 or 6. Long runs went to an every-other-weekend schedule versus the usual build, build, step-back method.

Overall, I was way more relaxed.

There were many reasons for the changes. Chief among them was my need for flexibility. The level of stress we had with our house on the market made e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g difficult. Keeping a very much lived-in house pristine while working outside the home is nearly impossible without going insane. Oh, yeah. And it’s hard to drop everything at dinner time for a showing. It’s even more grueling to watch the days come and go with no offers.

And that’s not even the half of it! Here are some ways I kept myself sane and active during this busy period. We all have situations from time to time that get in the way . . . but exercise can be a great coping mechanism.

#1: Treat workouts as treats. It’s natural to feel like fitting in a run or other activity is more work than play. But in times of stress and overbook-ed-ness, working out truly is time to clear your mind. It’s time free from other, more stressful obligations. Time to devote to your #1—yourself. And when you’re focused on everything and everyone else, remembering to take time for yourself is incredibly important.

#2: Focus on a goal. But this isn’t the time to pick something tricky. I wanted to run our local half marathon. Not PR. Not race. Just run it. Having an event to look forward to—without the added pressure of doing well—helped propel me forward when I didn’t feel like doing anything at all. Plus, it gave me something besides all the crazy stuff to think about. In a fond way!

#3: Be flexible. There will be days when you just don’t have time or required energy. Or when what’s going on it just too overwhelming. That’s more than OK. Consider shifting to a walk or other form of light movement. Change your workout from the morning to afternoon. Or afternoon to evening. Or Tuesday to Wednesday. Keep it loose and use your sessions more as therapy than conditioning.

#4: Value the short and sweet. I feel like I should write a book about the value of mini-workouts. Seriously. If you’d like to read more of what I have to say on this topic, go read the No Workout is Too Short or Slow post.

Sometimes I forget it, but we have a lot of great running resources on this site. We're hoping to build these up in the coming months, so any questions or possible topics are welcomed. Just visit our FAQ page for more information.

I'm especially hoping to get Stephen to author some posts related to increasing speed and attaining other goals. He's the master at that kind of stuff.

Happy running!

Psssst: We'll announce the winner to the Oikos Super Fruits Giveaway later today!

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