If you wanted to go for a run, it usually meant you were planning a long jog on your own or with another adult. If you had kids, you probably snuck it in early in the morning before everyone got up or grabbed an hour in the evening.
Getting a run in usually meant finding a solid chunk of time away from the rest of the family.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
First of all a lot of the rules have changed.
1. You don’t need to run for a long hour to get a good workout. Researchers have determined you get more health benefits from interval training (intense activities like sprints alternated with short rest periods) than from long jogs. More lean muscles, more fat burning, more lung and heart health, more healthy blood sugar levels.
2. You don’t need to do all your moving at once. Even though you don’t need to run for an hour, you do need to be moving more than most of us do. We’re built to move around – not sit – all day. And health experts are seeing that this kind of approach brings results. Short runs here and there can add up to an entire workout by the end of the day. In fact, if you mix running into your day using the suggestions below, you’ll probably get even more time in on the run than if you went to the gym for just an hour.
Below you’ll find a bunch of ways – most of them stolen from kids – to get a run in without sacrificing family time.
Running Like A Kid
One thing kids do well – they don’t stand on ceremony when it comes to running.
They don’t wait until they’ve put on sweat pants to work out. They’ll run in a dress with Mary Janes . . .
They run in hallways, along the poolside, away from you in a busy mall . . .
Kids run at the most inappropriate times, in the most inappropriate clothing and in the most inappropriate places!
Unlike us adults who follow protocol, they don’t go for A Run.
But hey, maybe we should take a lesson here.
Don’t go for A Run, just run whenever you get a chance. Here are a bunch of excuses to do so:
1. Race you to the . . .
How many times do kids say, “Whoever gets there first gets [fill in the blank]!”
Find ways to turn ordinary journeys in to races. Race to get the mail. Race to get to the car. Race to get door first.
OK. Sometimes you don’t have sweats on – maybe you have heels on and work pants. You don’t have to race everywhere. But where you can, add this in.
And even if you can’t put in an all out sprint, just by hustling a bit in your slacks you still have on from work, you’ll burn some extra calories.
2. Try and catch me!
Bathtime, bedtime, dinnertime – interesting how every time it’s time for something to get done your little ones get evasive. And to add insult to injury they start to giggle as you try and catch them.
Well, turn the tables. They want a story read? Tell them they have to catch you first. They want a snack? Just try and catch mom first.
3. Can’t you see I’m relaxing?!
How many times have you been catching a moment of relaxation when the inevitable, “MOOOMMM” or “DAAADDDD” echoes through the house.
Let’s turn the tables on them. If you’ve got a few moments when the kids are occupied (maybe napping if they’re still giving you this blessed downtime), sneak in a run.
I’ve mentioned before, family fitness is a combo of doing things together and creative supplementation for the adults. Here’s a supplementation part. When your little ones nap, get a few speedy intervals in. Get on the treadmill and do 5 two-minute sprints with one-minute rest intervals. That’s only 15 minutes and you still can get some housework in or even nap a little yourself!
This may seem kind of like the traditional Run. But there’s a difference. No need to slog it out for ½ an hour or more. Don’t sacrifice all your precious naptime/free time with running. By doing short sprints you can cut your time on the treadmill and get the same results.
4. Don’t run indoors!
I’ll stick with no running in the hallways – ours are pretty narrow and inevitably someone’s sock or shoe or book on the floor is just waiting to trip someone up. But kids have a point. Who says you need to go outdoors to run – or even on a treadmill. I often grab a few minutes and just run in place getting my knees as high as possible. Football players do it. Boxers do it. Why not parents?
5. Let’s play!
There are literally a million and one versions of simple games that get you running. From soccer to tag to kickball to duck duck goose. Play them and get moving. Our kids’ favorite was nothing more complicated than a simple game of tag. It’s amazing how soon you’ll be panting after a few sprints around the yard.
Other Sneaky Ways To Run
Okay, sometimes you have to be an adult about it. So here are a few more adult-like ideas for sneaking in a run.
1. Beat the crowd.
Okay, this still harkens back to the official Run philosophy. But it’s an important addition when you’re trying to get more running into your day. And it only takes 10-15 minutes!
Get up just fifteen minutes before everyone and do some short sprints around the yard or even several intervals running in place in your living room.
2. Use a jogging stroller
When my first was born, my aunt gave us a jogging stroller. It was one of the best baby gifts we ever got!
Nothing can take away the extra weight you’re pushing when you run. But a good jogging stroller can minimize the added effort – a stable design, lightweight, nice handlebars, a good braking system. You can put in a lot of miles with these.
3. Bike and run
To even up the pace a bit, if your child has reached biking age, have them bike while you run. There’s a nice window of time before they are ready for long bike rides when their pace on a bike works perfectly with your pace on foot.
And even if the pace isn’t an exact match, if you apply interval training you’ll work together well. If your child is biking with training wheels or likes putting on some speed, make a deal. Set periodic goal posts and say, let’s sprint to that tree or to that mailbox and then we’ll go slower. They can take their time getting there or speed up and wait and you’ll both get your movement in.
4. Family Run
Even when your kids are a lot smaller you can get a nice run by running together. Try family running.
Despite their shorter legs, kids often have much more energy than we adults do. And remember, they’re moving around much less weight. They can often keep up a pretty good pace.
A friend of ours who is a regular runner was amazed at the pace her 6 year old kept up when she joined her one morning after doing track practice for a few weeks.
Nonetheless, a few strategies can help you all enjoy the run and get a good workout. You can find out more about family running ideas here.
If your Run in the morning is your time alone for quiet thinking, I can’t replace that with these ideas. But I want you to be assured, you can just take off running – even if you’re an adult. And it doesn’t have to be in the form of an official Run to count.
Try these strategies out and let me know how they work. Better yet, if you’ve found some other sneaky ways to get running, please use the comments below to share them. We could all use some new ideas!