The most common reason I hear from other runners about why they skipped a run is ‘I don’t have the time.’
But here’s the secret: no one has the time. Everyone is busy.
You make the time. Find the time. You wrestle time away from other activities and negotiate the time back from others who are stealing it.
Overcoming Running Excuses: I Don’t Have Time
Before you bail on a run because you are too busy or don’t have the time, ask yourself:
Really? Am I Really Too Busy?
Podcaster and business guru Tim Ferriss has said staying busy with minutiae is a way to prevent yourself from having to do the things you know you really need to do.
A to-do list filled with a million piddly chores means you never have to come face to face with the things you know will improve your life, but that are hard, scary, uncomfortable and possibly downright terrifying.
Is ‘too busy’ the real reason you aren’t going for a run, or is it just an excuse?
Review Your Calendar
What (specifically) are you ‘too busy’ doing?
- Does that thing have to be done? Today? By you?
- Was that other activity chosen by you, or did someone else choose it for you?
- Is the thing you are ‘too busy’ doing more important to you and your long-term goals than your run?
While a certain number of our daily activities are going to be obligations to work or family, be sure your own priorities still fit into your calendar.
Remove Low Hanging Fruit
It’s a cliché of productivity posts to tell you to remove time wasters like Netflix, Facebook, and Candy Crush.
As a lover of Netflix and Candy Crush, I can’t in good conscience tell others to quit them. I know I’m not willing to do it.
I will, however, recommend de-prioritizing them.
Go for a run, do your work, play with the kids, then play a little Candy Crush in the little bits of time left over.
NEVER play ‘just one game’ of Candy Crush before a run, you will get sucked in and your day will disappear. I’ve learned this the hard way (several times).
This does raise the issue of screen time before bed, but I’m solving your running problems here. I’ll conveniently ignore potential sleep issues for another day.
Delegate or Delete
Can what is on your calendar be deleted or delegated?
Create a ‘don’t do’ list for items that are time wasters, that don’t add value, that can be done by someone else, or that leave you mentally exhausted or angry.
If your time is taken up by household chores, make sure everyone is doing their share. If you live alone, consider hiring an occasional maid service to get some of your time back.
Can I Multitask?
Generally, I advise against multitasking. This is an exception.
Listening to a book on tape while you run, or catching up with a friend on a running date will knock two things off the to-do list.
Can I Adjust My Run?
Don’t think of your run as all-or-nothing.
Just because your training plan says 6 miles, doesn’t mean 6 miles is non-negotiable and your training will fall apart if you do anything else. If you can’t fit in a 6-mile run, do a 3-mile run.
Something is better than nothing.
Do a shorter run or break up a longer run into several shorter runs.
Can I Do a Different Workout?
Very often when I think I don’t have time for a run, it isn’t the run I can’t fit in, it’s the run plus the showering, the re-doing of makeup and re-doing of hair afterward that I don’t have the time for.
Can you fit in a workout where you won’t get sweaty? Then a shower and makeup reapplication won’t be required.
Consider doing a strength, yoga, or cross-training workout.
It’s not exactly the same as a run, but once again, something is better than nothing.
Does The Same Issue Continually Cause a Problem?
Think about the times when you ‘haven’t had time’ for a run. Is there a consistent issue creating the conflict? For example, a work meeting that always runs late, or getting the kids ready for school sidetracking your plans for a morning run.
There are two options here:
- Try changing the time you run. If you consistently fail to make your evening runs, try a morning run. Can’t do mornings? Try lunch time.
- Don’t think about your run as a thing you’ll do when you can. Schedule your runs. Make an appointment with yourself and put it on the calendar.
Having the time reserved will make you less likely to surrender the time for something or someone else.
What is My Priority?
How you use your time reflects your priorities.
Change your language: don’t tell yourself ‘I don’t have time to run.’ Tell yourself ‘running is not my priority.’
How does that make you feel?
If you don’t like it, make running a priority and run.
But if you think it’s maybe kinda true, then reconsider running and its place in your life at this moment.
It’s totally normal for your interest and dedication to running to ebb and flow. If running isn’t a priority for you right now, don’t push it. Consider taking a break.
Come back when you are ready.
We’ll be here for you when you return.
What about you? How do you beat the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse?