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You’re not imagining it: Life is just busy. Between juggling work, household chores, and caretaking responsibilities, it often feels like every hour of the day is spoken for, leaving precious little time for the things we love, like running.
Despite our best intentions, most of us still struggle to prioritize running. While tried-and-true strategies like hiring a coach, signing up for a goal race, or having a training plan can help get you out the door, even the best-laid plans can fall through. But it’s not impossible to ensure running is a consistent part of our lives.
Six Women on Making Time for Running
These women run the gamut of pros and normal women who love running. And they all have different methods of ensuring they get their run in.
Sara Vaughn: Know when to be flexible…and when not to be
One look at Sara Vaughn’s daily schedule and it’s clear: sometimes, elite runners are really just like us. She needs to be present and accessible to her four kids and her real estate clients, leaving her with little wiggle room during her day. Because of these demands on her time, she blocks off time in her calendar for her main run, just like any other work meeting. It’s non-negotiable. (She even leaves her phone at home.) “This does change throughout the year as priorities shift,” she says. While she’s unwavering in her approach during a marathon build-up, she’s more accommodating when she’s not in the thick of a big training block.
On the other hand, flexibility is key when it comes to Vaughn’s second run of the day, especially since her family’s schedule can be unpredictable. She has a set of running clothes in her car so she can take advantage of any opportunity to sneak in a run. “You never know when another mom will invite the kids over for a playdate or you’re stuck at the auto shop for 40 minutes,” she says. Other times, she uses an evening treadmill run as a way to wind down—Netflix, headphones, and no worries about pace. “I just go for 30 minutes or however long an episode of ‘Bridgerton’ takes,” she says.
Yuma Haidara: Ask for help
As a commercial truck driver, Yuma Haidara is on the road 14 hours a day, five days a week, and there isn’t always time to run. “It’s hard to excel in running in any capacity,” she says because of the sedentary and spontaneous nature of her job. While she gets a 10-hour break, she needs to eat, shower, and sleep during that time. If she tried to squeeze in a run too, she says it would make her workweek hell; she’d be exhausted.
The only consistency in her schedule are her two days off. That’s when Haidara runs. Still, it’s hard to get up and out the door despite her commitment to the sport. So, she leans on running partners to hold her accountable. “I wish I could do it all by myself, but I can’t,” she says. “We have people in our lives for a reason. We don’t need to be strong and do everything alone and be superwoman.”
Other times, when Haidara finds herself dragging her feet, she counts down from five, giving herself five seconds to get up and out of the house. It helps her avoid overthinking—something we can all identify with!
Hillary Allen: Change your mindset
When Brooks-sponsored ultrarunner and endurance athlete Hillary Allen has to miss a run or rejigger her schedule due to work, health, or family obligations, she doesn’t freak out or immediately assume her goals are doomed. Instead, Allen reminds herself that it’s about priority, not sacrifice—a simple mantra helps her stay consistent with running.
That mental shift means running doesn’t feel like a burden, forcing Allen to forgo activities she cares about. “You’re prioritizing certain things as opposed to feeling like you’re sacrificing something or missing out. You’re just shifting your priorities around for that week,” she says. “It puts things in a more positive light.”
It also keeps her commitment to the sport fresh and interesting. For instance, Allen has two big races on her summer calendar, the San Juan Solstice 50 and the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. But she also wanted to do cool bike races like the UNBOUND Gravel 200 in early June. While she still ran, she swapped in a long ride in place of her long run and added a weekly bike workout. Now, as her running season heats up, she has shifted her focus back to running. “I need to enjoy what I’m doing because it was almost taken away from me,” she says; in 2017, Allen fell 150 feet off a ridge line during a race in Norway and broke 14 bones. She was told she would never run again.
Anna Clark: Make it a family affair
For journalist and teacher Anna Clark, the whole operation of running can feel like a time-intensive hobby at times. Not just logging miles, but everything that goes along with the sport—changing, showering, laundry. (Weather can be a factor for the Detroit-based runner, too.) While Clark uses tricks to entice herself to run, like leaving her running shoes somewhere visible and designating certain podcasts and audiobooks as only for running, she’s found that sharing runs with others is one of the best ways to ensure the sport is part of her life.
She and some family members created what they called the Long Distance Distance Club. They’d share pictures and updates on their runs, which inspired the others to lace up. Even though they lived hundreds of miles away from each other, running brought them together. “Sharing was good for our running and good for maintaining family connections from a distance,” she says. They also gathered for races, running half marathons together or the Detroit Marathon as a relay team.
Sonya Alcocer-Charles: Something is better than nothing
For Sonya Alcocer-Charles, her job as a management consultant often takes priority. Between long workdays and pressing deadlines, it can feel impossible to fit in a run. But for Alcocer-Charles, running feels like freedom. “I get so bogged down in the details of my work that I need the time I spend running in order to clear my head and get perspective,” she says. “It really helps with my stress and anxiety.”
So, Alcocer-Charles takes what she can get. If she can’t run before work, she works around her schedule—a quick core strength work before a meeting and two miles between conference calls. “It’s not much but it’s better than zero,” she says, and it helps her maintain a connection to the activity she loves.
Abigail Lorge: Stolen Workouts
The reality of running isn’t always all picturesque miles with plenty of time for warm-ups and cool-downs. Sometimes, it needs to be quick and sneaky. To make it happen, Abigail Lorge times everything with precision so she can find windows of time to squeeze in a workout. She’ll stop at the gym to run before work, on her way home from certain appointments, or on her way to get her kids from school. She’ll hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes while her toddler is in swim class. While it means she might be red-faced and sweaty at pick-up, it’s worth it. “It always feels like a coup to get a ‘stolen workout,’” she says.