No More Excuses

No ifs, no buts - make your training a cop-out-free zone!

Posted: 11 September 2002
by Andy Richardson

Take a quick guess at running’s number one enemy. What do you think it is? Injury? Ill health? Manic drivers? Blistered toes? No, the nemesis of the modern runner is excuses. They stop more people running than anything else. In a perfect world there would be no episodes of the Weakest Link to distract us. Our body would digest jam roly-poly pudding within minutes, and there would be no injuries, hecklers or bad weather to derail our efforts. Here’s a series of tips designed to obliterate the 10 most common excuses. With these tactics, you’ll never miss another session.

Summoning the energy for après-work running is fine on club nights. There are stories of Hard Terry’s Nettle Warrior to look forward to, among other things. But your favourite soap is on, and you’re beginning to think running will have to wait until tomorrow. Celebrity trainer David ‘The Body Doctor’ Marshall says you should train early in the day instead. That way, you make sure you get your session in. And morning running has the added benefit of raising your metabolism – so you will burn more fat all day long. “Exercise at 8am and your metabolism will be elevated till nine or 10pm,” says Marshall. “But if you train at 6pm, you only get that benefit for a few hours.” The more vigorous the session, the greater the rise in your metabolism.
Top tip Buy a new alarm clock

It’s widely accepted that once anything solid has passed your lips, you should give it a two-hour grace period before running. But if waiting 120 minutes after finishing your tarragon chicken is ruining your plans for an early evening run, take heart. New research suggests that you may not have to wait that long. “Each runner is different, and you should experiment to find out how long you need to wait before running,” explains nutrition expert Asker Jeukendrup. “But we believe that people can run within as little as a hour after eating.” So you can still train after an evening meal.
Top tip Eat, wait an hour and then go for your run

Personal trainer Mark Ford says building running into your non-running routine is a great way of making sure you get out more often. If Saturday begins with a drive to the shops to pick up the papers, try running instead. Ford, who trains people at London’s Fitness Exchange, says you don’t have to run hard and fast to turn your paper run into a mini-session. He also recommends lunchtime work-outs. “They’re a great way of building running into a hectic work schedule and building stamina.” Running to the gym for 30 minutes of lunchtime cross-training will keep you on top of your game throughout the afternoon.
Top tip Investigate the newsagents in the next village

Runners are sociable animals. And many miss runs because they would rather not run alone. Geoff Wightman – head of Road-Running Policy Support at UK Athletics – says that, because of the number of clubs around the country, there is no reason to suffer from ‘loneliness of the long distance runner’ syndrome. “Training with a partner is great fun and will make sure you don’t miss your sessions.” Geoff also advises joining a club and most have groups for people of all abilities.
Top tip Search out runners at your office

If for some reason you must mow the lawn, then – sure – a run may well leave you too tired to push the Flymo. But don’t feel that you must scrap a session in case it ruins your performance in another area. Research shows that running actually increases your sex drive. Experts at say that men’s testosterone levels increase after a work-out. And a recent survey reported that women who listed running as their favourite sport also had more adventurous sex lives. All of which should put an end to ‘no sex’ complaints.
Top tip Convince your partner to start running, too

Mass-participation events such as the Flora London Marathon, Race for Life and the Nike 10K lead to a seasonal upturn in the number of runners. But this tails off as the weather cools and the lure of the sofa increases. If your enthusiasm flags in winter, take to heart the Russian saying “there’s no such thing as bad weather; just bad clothes.” Current fabric technology means that you can buy kit that will keep you cool when it’s warm, and dry when it’s wet – so there’s no excuse not to run. Of course there are also perverse delights attached to running in the rain, which some consider liberating.
Top tip Get the gear

Now, just think about that for a minute. Running has energised your life, recharged your sex drive and left you healthier and happier than the average couch potato. You’re not bored with running, just your running routine. It’s time to add variety to your sessions and set new targets. Aim for a new PB at 10K. Or try orienteering or trail running. Amelia Bell, of the orienteering group Southern Navigators, suggests that both will provide new challenges to keep your running fresh and exciting. “And taking yourself on to the trails or into the woods is a great way to beat runner’s blues,” she says.
Top tip Learn how to use a compass

Serious injuries are no fun. But minor niggles, aches and pains are all part of progressive training. It’s perfectly normal to feel sore after a tough speed session or long run. The important thing is to recognise the difference between the pain of injury and the pain of improvement. “If you have persistently sore joints and muscles, think about where you are running and look at your shoes,” says RW Medical Adviser Dr Patrick Milroy. “It could be that you are doing too many miles, too quickly on the roads, or that your shoes are either the wrong type for your gait or worn out.” A pair of serious running shoes should last 400-700 miles. After that, they need to be replaced. Check for obvious creases in the midsole, which indicate over-compression, and stand the shoe on a flat surface and look at it from behind. If it leans over to either side it’s time to buy new shoes. If you’re uncertain about midsole wear, go along to a specialist retailer and have them look at your old shoes and then compare them with a similar new pair.
Top tip Log the mileage for each pair of shoes alongside your total weekly mileage

Being heckled is a big deal for runners of all sizes. There’s nothing so galling as the invective of a spotty teen as you reach mile 11 of a Sunday run. And the comments endured by some are enough to put many off the sport for life. But it shouldn’t. Ford says that running will help you lose weight quicker than any other sport. “A 30-minute jog will burn about 300 calories, depending on your weight,” he says. And the more you run, the quicker you get. Which means that next time you’re heckled you’ll be able to catch the offender and give them a piece of your mind.
Top tip Plot your weight loss on a chart, and keep it on your fridge

When you first started running, you swore you’d never love another sport. But the lure of the Sunday afternoon bike ride has proved hard to resist. And now you’re torn between the thrills of two-wheel travel and your regular long run. A spokesman for cycling magazine Mountain Bike UK says that running provides a great fitness base for alternative pursuits. “Most forms of exercise are complementary to other activities. Regular running will provide a great fitness base for mountain biking. For a start you’ll have strong legs, which are an enormous asset.” The good news is that combining another activity with running will help you keep your training fresh. Once you’ve dabbled in different activities such as skating, surfing or biking, you’ll rediscover just why you liked running so much.
Top tip Dabble away, but remember that running will benefit your fitness for most other sports

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Beating The Training Blues


Discuss this article

I've been trying to get into running for over a year now, and although I really enjoy it, I never seem to find the time or the energy. I read all the tips telling me to find how to find the time, but I'm not the kind of person who sits in front of the TV when I could be running.

I'm a teacher and work from roughly 8 - 6 in the week, including through my lunch hour most days. My holidays provide me with a great opportunity to run, but, like the holidays, this is short-lived.

I'm partially-sighted so this brings its own problems, but most significantly, not being able to drive ironically makes running rather difficult.

I cannot simply pack my running gear and leave it in my car - I have to carry it (plus various essays and sets of books)on the half hour walk to my bus stop (a rather insignificant run which is murder on my back), then on the bus journey to work. Atfer this, the return journey and teaching a bunch of restless teenagers all day, running is really rather unbearable. I also work at home until about 11 or 12 each night, so I feel that taking time out to run will give me an even later bedtime than usual.

I have hired a personal trainer, so I force myself to take time out during the week, but find myself spending more time catching up at the weekends when I normally run. I am struggling so much to fit in any kind of running at all that I just feel like giving it up altogether. Any suggestions?
Posted: 18/02/2003 at 14:53

Don't give up - as you've hired a PT can't you ask him/her to take you running for part of your session, don't know how near to work you are, but could you not run in the mornings.

As I'm not a teacher and wouldn't understand your workload and hours your required to work I'm not much help, but there are a few teacher's here so hopefully on of them will see your tread and give a bit more advise.

All the best and at least your trying to get out there.

Posted: 18/02/2003 at 15:17

Three mornings a week I get up at 5:15am and go out. leave for work round about 6:45 get back about 6:30. I thought I couldn't fit the time in. However i don't have to do marking or preparation in the evening. The worst I might get is the odd phone call from the lads on the night shift.
Without being flippant ,because it is serious, you could do with few restless teenagers helping you out by carrying your bags!

Good Luck, can someone help?
Posted: 18/02/2003 at 15:52

Sorry , I get up 5:15 to go for run! it's the only time I could get to fit running in!
Posted: 18/02/2003 at 16:01

Golly Emma - sounds like you've got plenty on your plate already.

Just to say I, like KnackneredKnees (sorry seem to be following you around at the moment KK), run first thing in the morning to fit it all in (I work full time and often don't get home before 7.00ish, have two kids, run a house etc etc). Once you get into a routine of early morning running it gets a lot easier and particularly once the mornings are lighter/warmer.

Also, as regards where you get the energy from.....I really think the old saying 'energy begets energy' rings true. Once you start running you'll find that you have much more energy to keep you going. Whatever happens though try and keep going...we all have dips in our motivation and trouble fitting it at first into hectic routines but once you've made it a 'must have' it will get easier.
Posted: 18/02/2003 at 16:13

Yes try and get going, and come back and chat to us if you feel you've lost your way little.

We are not an entirely sane bunch here but we can help!! :-)
Posted: 18/02/2003 at 16:29

Hey Emma,
Certainly sounds like you have it tough at the moment. I think we all know what it's like to struggle to find time to run. I work long hours etc but don't think I'm under the kind of pressure you're talking about. My Mum was a teacher, and although she worked the kind of hours you're talking about it was only because she worked 9 to 4 in a secondary school, gave piano lessons at home from 5.30 to about 8/9, then had to turn around to correct copies etc. As she had seven kids and a workaholic husband you can imagine it wasn't easy! It strikes me though as very unusual that you are stuck with out of class commitments to that extent. Why are you working 8 to 6? Sounds very long! Why do you have to work 'til 11/12 every night? Have you taken on a lot of extra commitments? If so I honestly think something has to go before you can commit to running as well. If you're working 17 hour days you need to find some time to relax and rest and squashing running in on top of a tired mind and body doesn't make sense to me. Mind you working 17 hour days doesn't make sense to me in the first place!! Is there any possibility that you can reduce your hours?
Posted: 18/02/2003 at 16:30

Ooops sorry just re-read that and it doesn't soudn very helpful. I think what I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't be beating yourself up that you can't get into training at the moment. You're clearly under enormous pressure and I think you might need to do some reorganisation in your life before you try to get into training properly.
Posted: 18/02/2003 at 16:32

Yep, it's early mornings I'm afraid. I work stupid hours too, and it's the only way I can fit it in.
Posted: 18/02/2003 at 17:10

Emma - difficult!

My working day is generally 7 until 7 so I'm generally home by 7:30. Usually I will put my kit on and go straight back out again. However, this doesn't seem the ideal solution for you.

If you have the cash I would consider investing in a treadmill. They are not cheap, but a decent one should last many years and over that time you would more than recoup the cost (in terms of saved gym membership fees).

I had mine for about 8 years (a tunturi J660) and have it set up in front of TV, stereo and large fan (essential!) so even in mid-winter I can run in shorts.
Posted: 18/02/2003 at 17:52

I am also a teacher, and I appreciate the strain it takes on your life. I het slower and slower as each half term progresses. It's ahrd to explain why, other than that being in the classroom with up to 200 different kids in the course of a normal day is exhausting mentally and physically.

However, there is no way I would work the hours you are! I would have a breakdown. I've learned in the last ten years of teaching that you CAN let some things go, and that you need to work out the essential things you need to do and those you can skimp on or ignore. Although the unions are working to gain us a work/life balance I think we owe it to ourselves, our families and the kids we teach to give ourselves a break. (Said she who spent the first day of the hols in school framing pics for an exhibition opening the first Sat after half term!) If I was pushing myself the way you are I wouldn't have the energy that my pupils demand of me, and I'm prepared to say b*ll*cks to various pointless tasks that encroach on life outside the classroom in order to do the enjoyable and rewarding part of the job better. Even though I try to work smart and shield my life from my job I still ended up in floods of tears one morning last week, simply because I'd looked at the cover board!
Try and give yourself a break, and enjoy half term: for goodness sake don't spend it all working; no-one will thank you for it, and you've earned your week of 'convalsence'.

Best wishes
Posted: 18/02/2003 at 18:00

Ta for all your advice - I think the main problem with my workload isn't the school, as they're very good, but because I teach English and am partially-sighted, the marking takes forever! The school have already brought in someone to do some of my marking and are going to change my timetable so I'm teaching more practical subjects and less English next year. But until then, I'm afraid it's the early morings, lunches and evenings, just to keep my head above water. I do like the idea of a running club, though. If I'm doing extra-curricular work, it might be a good bargaining chip with the management for extension of deadlines, etc. I'll have a word with P.E.

Thanks again,

Posted: 18/02/2003 at 23:46

English = nightmare marking! You have my sympathy on that one!

Does your place have a running track? You could use it to do speedwork sessions with or without the kids, though they're usually pretty keen to do stuff, especially when teach actually mucks in with them. If not you could do some in the gym, or even get a science bod to set up a bleep test for you to do with the kids instead? I do appreciate however that if your school is anything like ours there are no decent shower facilities for staff, which makes mid day work outs a no no.

Hope you get it all sorted, and congrats on having management that consider your needs a priority: I'm not sure mine would!
Posted: 19/02/2003 at 17:50

No running track, but we do have astroturf - I guess that's better than concrete, and there's a park across the road, so I could try that. I have a year 11 (fifth year) form, so they are always amused when I muck in for a bit of interform sport. Should try roping in those lazy, fag-smoking kids for a hand with the younger ones - wonder what my legal stance is if it kills them?
Posted: 20/02/2003 at 10:35

Hi Emma
I was horrified to read about how much work you put in. I've been teaching for 8 years now and have realised in the last year or so that there is a limit to what I can afford to put into my job. I am also deputy head (primary so still teaching too) so think it is important that I set a good example of work-life balance to other staff. It sounds like there are people aware of your problems at school so I hope you can get things more sorted out. As Helen said, working smart is vital nowadays.
As to energy/time for running. I do mine straight after work and would prefer early mornings but like to start work v early instead. Last year I struggled with exercising and often found I was too tired etc and kept getting ill. Since the Christmas hols I have been following a RW half marathon training schedule, so have committed to running at least 4 times a week. I found that after 2 or 3 weeks of this that my energy levels actually went up. Totally unbelievable to me after all these years of permanent exhaustion! I am now the least tired looking person in the staffroom - and definitely the fittest!
So good luck with fitting in the running - lots of good suggestions on the thread. Hope it becomes fun for you too.
Posted: 21/02/2003 at 08:54

Primary: shudder! People tend to think cos the kids are little it's easier.I did one aternoon of supply in year 1 ten years ago and I'm still mentally scarred. People think I'm mad to work with teenagers, but at least they are generally not incontinent, don't pick their noses and want to hold your hand, and you can take the pee out of them without too much sulking or weeping.
I can honestly say I'd rather work at Asda then teach the tinies, especially with zero non contact too. Hats off to those of you mad enough to do it!
Posted: 21/02/2003 at 13:40

Helen, teenagers at home are enough for me! And they do still have plenty of bad habits, don't they?
I must admit I've not been below Year 3 (yet!) and found a drop from Y6 last year to Y3 this year a shocker. Def no hand holding for me!
Enjoying the last few moments of half term...
Posted: 21/02/2003 at 15:26

Oh yes! Trying hard not to think about it, but that 'haven't done my homework' feeling is hovering and waiting to strike.
Posted: 21/02/2003 at 19:24

Lots of good advice. I too work long hours and certainly don't have any lunch breaks. I just accept that on Monday and Tuesday I can't run (working/ college/ travelling/ organising family from 0700 til 10pm). I try and do lots on Friday/ Sat/ Sun, and fit in what I can after work on Wed/ Thurs when possible. It doesn't fit with all the schedules but I think you just have to adapt to your own lifestyle. I think the idea of buying your own treadmill is excellent, cos then you can fit in the odd 20 mins 2-3 times a day as and when (between marking?) - then when the lighter evenings come round you might be able to get outside for a bit too. Best of luck with it all - where there's a will there's a way as they say, and even if you only manage to run once or twice a week that will be loads more than most people.
Posted: 22/02/2003 at 00:01

Emma - I'm a teacher too and agree wholeheartedly with the work life balance point.

It's not my area, but I think your employer has some obligations to help you with your disability so that it doesn't impinge on your otherwise free time as much.

I don't know what subject you teach, but is there any way you could (possibly with the co-operation of the school) get the kids to word process their homework so that you can take it home and increase the font size to make it less of a hassle for you to read. I'm doing an OU course with a partially sighted tutor, and the OU has asked us all to submit assignments electronically with just this in mind.
Posted: 22/02/2003 at 09:07

Good thinking Fruity! Would be especially helpful as Emma mentioned earlier that she teaches English, which as far as I can see is marking hell! Out of my year 7 form 2/3 have home computer access, and in contrast to some things you may read on some forums about teenagers most of them will try to do you a favour if you ask. (Or maybe I'm just lucky and blessed with trainee human beings rather than just grunting sociopaths!)
Posted: 22/02/2003 at 09:39

Good ideas, thanks. For a lot of the kids' work I get them to peer mark it - then they can see what others are doing wrong and right and it invariably improves their work. Coursework is a nightmare! Unfortunately I have two year 11 classes - I've been promised it's not going to happen again! - and coursework deadlines are looming so it really is hell. I'm hoping that after Easter things will quieten down a bit - fingers crossed.

Treadmill idea is good as I'm not keen on running near home - live in catchment area of a previous school! I also have a huge garage and no car to put in it, obviously, so it would have a nice cool home to live in.

Have also had two year 11 tutor groups in a row so should get a year 7 next year which means lots of interform sport and the dreaded sports day and school triathlon - some good opportunities though.
Posted: 22/02/2003 at 10:01

Reading this thread makes me think "Thank God (with travel) my work days are only 14hrs long."
And cos of that I accrue extra days off.
Next time my teaching friend goes off on one re' her long hours I'll let her off.
And you run, too.
Posted: 22/02/2003 at 10:05

Yes, and I'll be at the FLM - not running I hasten to add, but I'm a St. John Ambulance technician (as and when I can). Whereas usually I have to rub legs with Vaseline, I am on an ambulance this year, so if any of you collapse, you may well get me. And I've 'done' enough London Marathons to put me off actually, though I suppose what I see is not entirely representative of what goes on.
Posted: 22/02/2003 at 10:19

I got my legs rubbed my one of your colleagues (or possibly even you!!) in 2000 - it was a welcome relief - huge thanks to you and yoru colleagues.

Sorry I missed the bit about teaching English, I was in a rush to dash down to get a haircut/go to the gym.
Posted: 22/02/2003 at 20:04

I live in the countryside and it is dark before work in the morning and dark in the evening after work. There are no streetlights out here, the roads are single track. I daren't go out running in case I twist my ankle or a car doesn't see me due to all the running manufacturers failing to put adequate and correctly located reflective (not neon hi viz) bits on the black camaflauge leggins and tops.

Any ideas?

Posted: 01/01/2011 at 16:59

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