When I began running twenty years ago, I was a very structured scheduled runner. I had to run specific days at specific times. If I was tired, I went. If I had something to do that morning, I got up even earlier to get the run in. I had absolutely no flexibility in my schedule at all . . .
until my kidlets came along.
Suddenly, everything revolved around their lives. I didn’t run if they were up all night and all morning with a cold. I didn’t run if I didn’t have someone at home to help watch them. I had to learn flexible scheduling, and even though they are older now, this has not changed.
That’s not to say that having to change my running schedule doesn’t come with some anxiety. For example, if I have to push a run later into the day, I tend to think throughout the day ‘What if I can’t get it done?’. For the most part, though, I realize that in the end it will all work out. Here are three reasons I now believe flexibility is key to running:
- Lowers your anxiety. Honestly. If you feel you have to get it done and you don’t get it done, your anxiety levels will go through the roof; and most runners I know have some type of anxiety about getting their runs in. For instance, if you know you have to be somewhere very early in the AM, you may wake up throughout the night making sure you haven’t slept in. Or you may not fall asleep because you’re worried about getting up and getting it done. Instead, what about running the night before? Or later in the afternoon on the day of your run? I’ve found this is sometimes a better way for me to fit it in than to get up super early, feel exhausted, have a poor run and then still have an entire day to face.
- Teaches you to run at different times of the day. Sounds weird, but if you are an early morning runner all the time and you try to do a night run, it’s gonna feel hard. Or maybe not! You may think you run best in the early hours but you might be faster in the afternoon. I find I run faster if I don’t go first thing, even though I prefer going first thing. However, I look at those varied schedule runs for what benefits they offer: sleeping in, getting some Vitamin D, and actually seeing the wildlife instead of hearing it in the woods! Plus it helps if you decide to do a race on an alternate schedule: ie: a nighttime race if you are an early morning runner or a morning race if you run at night.
- Reminds you the important thing is just to get out and run. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you have to stick to this very structured schedule or your going to ‘mess up your plan’, but in reality the important thing is to just get out and run. If you have five on the schedule but can only do three, make those miles count. Add on the other two throughout the week. If you usually run on Wednesday but can’t go that day, push it to Thursday; it will be okay. The most important thing is that you make it work when you can make it work, whether it falls into your plan or not.
Are you a structured scheduled runner who feels anxiety when you can’t get out when you are supposed to for as long as you are supposed to? If you are, how do you deal with schedule changes?