9 creative ways to find time to run when you have no time

Why is it so hard to find the time to do something we love? I think it’s partly because we’re just so stinkin’ busy these days. But I also believe it comes down to prioritization. Even if you enjoy it, running really is just another thing to take up time on your schedule.  And if your schedule is already jam-packed with commitments – then what?  I can totally relate to this because, throughout different seasons in my life, I’ve been there too. If you’ve ever struggled to find time to run, then keep reading. My hope is that, by the time you finish, you’ll walk away with a few creative ideas for finding time to run.

How do you run when you have no time?

As I write this, I’m thinking of a few running friends who each have their own kind of “busy.”

One is a homeschooling mom with littles at home.  Another is a restaurant owner navigating the balance of business and family life.  Another is a single, working mom with kids in various activities.

And while it may not always be easy, they’ve each found a way to make running a part of their lives.

Maybe you’re a busy mom with multiple kiddos under 3 at home.  Or you work full-time while caring for an aging parent.  Whatever your situation – whatever your “busy” looks like – I assure you, you CAN find time to run. Even if it seems like you have no time.

“But how?” you ask.

Let’s begin with a few overarching things to keep in mind.  

9 creative tips to help you find the time to run

It starts with life priorities.

Just as with anything in life, we make time for the things we really want to do.

Is running important to you? 

Then make time for it.

Is there any unnecessary fluff in your life that you can cut out?  How about scrolling social media in the morning?  Or watching TV at night?

I’ve had to do this myself on more than one occasion, so please know I’m not speaking out of a place of having it all together.

Here’s a little experiment to try.  For one whole day, pay close attention to how you spend your time (even jotting down brief notes if that helps you).

I’m not a betting person but, if I was, I’d be willing to bet you could find at least 30 minutes of time that isn’t being put to good use.  How can you pool those minutes together to give yourself a block of time in which to go for a run?

Again, if you want running to be a part of your life, make it a priority.  No excuses.

Figure out WHY you want to run.

In order to make something a priority in our lives, it’s important that we know why it’s meaningful to us.  You’re not going to do something just to do it, right?  You need a reason.

Why is running important to you?

Take some time to think through that (again, writing it out if it’s helpful for you).

Do you want to run to lose weight or get in shape?  Perhaps you enjoy the energy you have after running.  Do you want to train for a race or a certain goal?  Maybe you want to run as part of a healthy lifestyle.

There are countless reasons why an individual might want to spend time running.  Figure out what that is for you, and use it as motivation when you don’t feel like “making the time” to run.

Related: How to Easily Create SMART Running Goals in 2022 + a FREE Goal Setting Worksheet

Make a date with your running shoes (create a running schedule).

As the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  If you stick with the I’ll-get-to-it-at-some-point-today mentality, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

Trust me.  I know this from experience. 😜

It’s likely that other things are going to come up throughout the day that’ll sidetrack you.  And, before you know it, the whole day will have gone by and you’ll never have gone for your run.

Instead, set yourself up for success by purposefully planning what days and times you’ll run during the week.  Make it like an appointment on your calendar.  You don’t need to be rigid here.  Just pencil it in, knowing that you may have to move things around as other life things come up.

Spending some time at the beginning of each week, month, or training season to plan out a running schedule can go a long way towards helping you find the time to run.

Depending on what your training goals are, this will look different for each person.  But the principle is the same.  When you plan ahead, you’re intentionally setting aside time in your schedule for running.

If you’d like a little help getting started, grab these FREE run planning calendar pages👇🏻 and use them to pencil in your workouts.

Weekly and Monthly calendar planning pages - find the time to run and put it on the calendar!

    9 Tips to find time to run when you have a busy schedule

    Alright, now that we have those things out of the way, let’s get into some specific tips to help you find time in your schedule for running.

    Tip #1: Be willing to run in a way that bores you

    Not a very glamorous tip, I know.  And this one won’t be applicable to everyone.  But if you’ve got young kids in the house, then this may be helpful.  If you have access to a treadmill at home, hop on it while the kids are napping, or after they go to bed.

    As my boys got a little older, I felt comfortable leaving them for very short periods of time.  That meant running down to the end of my street and back, checking on them, and then doing it all over again.  Kind of a boring way to “enjoy a run”, but it got the job done when it was my only option.

    Tip #2: Be willing to swap out a run for a different form of exercise

    Let’s say you have a baby or toddler at home, no treadmill, and no time to get a run in while said child is asleep.  What’s a gal to do?  

    A little flexibility can go a long way in a situation like this.  How about putting your little one in the stroller and going for a walk around the neighborhood?  Can you use this day to pull up a HIIT workout on YouTube while the baby has tummy time?  Or maybe you could do some circuit training in your living room while your toddler plays with his toys.

    I understand this isn’t an ideal option for every day when you’re trying to incorporate running into your routine.  But there’s nothing wrong with switching things up every now and then if it helps keep you moving.

    Tip #3:  Consider the best time of day for you to run

    Depending on what your season of life looks like, you might be able to find some extra time for a run at various points throughout your day.  Here are a few ideas:

    👉🏻 Run early in the morning

    You may not be a morning person, but this can be an optimal time to find an extra 30-45 minutes in your schedule.  I don’t like waking up any earlier than I have to, but I have found that this gets easier the more you do it.

    Can you skip the TV watching and go to bed an hour earlier the night before?  The extra sleep will make waking up earlier a little less painful.

    Set your alarm and put your phone on the other side of the room so you’ll be less likely to turn it off or hit the snooze (I think my husband wishes I would do this 🥴).

    Also, prepare your gear ahead of time.  Set out your running clothes, shoes, and whatever other things you use the night before.  

    👉🏻 Run late at night

    If you can’t make the early morning work for you, how about running late at night?   If you can’t squeeze it in after work, maybe you can run after the kids go to bed.

    👉🏻 Run on your lunch break

    If you work, perhaps you have enough time during your lunch break to squeeze in at least a 30 minute run.  Do you work from home or have a flexible employer?  Then maybe you can get away with a bit of a longer run.  Just don’t forget to eat and hydrate as well!

    Tip #4: Make it a family affair

    This just might be my favorite tip.  Not because it’s the most helpful, but because I have such good memories of running together with my husband and kids.

    Get creative with this.  If you have a spouse who also likes to run, maybe you can go to a park with the kids (if you have some, of course) and take turns running.

    We’ve even gone to a trail with another family and all run together.  Our kiddos are a little older, so that makes this easier.  If yours are younger, just be prepared to do a lot of extra walking. 😉

    How fit running into a busy schedule - run with your family!

    Tip #5: Don’t sit in your car while your kids are at soccer practice

    So I think I’m really speaking to myself here. 🙈  But also hoping someone else can relate.

    I currently have a good hour or so while I wait for my boys to finish soccer practice in the afternoon and it only very recently occurred to me that I could run during that time.

    If you have children in sports, can you use the time during their practice to go for a run?  I have a friend who used to do this regularly while her son was at Cross Country practice.  She works during the day, so she was wise about making the best use of what could otherwise be wasted time.

    Tip #6: Ask for help

    Another tip geared towards moms.  Sorry. 💁🏻‍♀️ I’m a mom myself, so that’s how I think.

    Asking for help can be really hard to do.  But if you’re completely boggled down with other responsibilities, it doesn’t hurt to ask a friend or family member for help every now and then.

    Maybe your husband can take the kids to school or put them to bed at night so you have a new window of time in which to run.  Can your mom or friend come and sit with your toddler while she naps so you can get outside for a quick running break?

    Perhaps you don’t have kids, but you have a spouse who’s willing to do the dishes and clean up the kitchen after dinner.  Can you use that time to get your run in before you’re too tired to do it?

    Tip #7: Make the most out of each run

    If you’re in a busy season of life, there is nothing wrong with running fewer days per week.  Focus on quality over quantity.  A minimum of three days a week is recommended to maintain fitness levels and see progress, but you can make these runs count.  Add in hill repeats, fartleks (unstructured speedwork), speed intervals, and strides to boost the value of your runs.    

    Tip #8 Where can you use running as your mode of transportation?

    I have a friend who regularly runs to work to get her miles in.  If she’s got a long run planned for that day, she’ll sometimes split it up by running to and from work.

    When my kids were younger, we lived near their school.  On busier days, I would run to the school to pick them up, and then we would walk home together.

    How can you make “run commuting” work for you?  

    Tip #9: If lack of motivation is making it hard for you to “find time” to run, look for a run group or training partner

    Many times if we look hard enough, we’ll see that we really can find the time to run.  The problem isn’t always lack of time – it’s often lack of motivation.  If this sounds familiar, I’d first encourage you to think about the things I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

    If you want to run, be intentional about making it a priority.  And think about your “why” behind your desire to run.

    For an extra motivation boost, find a training partner or a running group.  Both of these can do wonders for encouraging you and holding you accountable.  Plus, it can be a lot of fun to run with others.  It also makes you more likely to actually wake up earlier (see tip #3) when you (a) have something to look forward to and (b) know someone else is counting on you to meet them for a run. 

    Running motivation - finding time to run with a busy schedule

    How can you find the time to run?

    If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’re feeling jazzed to find some time to fit running into your busy schedule.  If you’ve already committed to making it a priority and you understand why running is important to you, then get out your calendar and start penciling in the days and times you want to run.  Use Tips 1-9 to help you figure out when and how works best for you.

    And, if you haven’t already, download these free Weekly + Monthly Running Planner pages to help you get started.


    Download your FREE Weekly + Monthly Run Planner Bundle and start being intentional about making time to run.

      Then, tell me in the comments below: which tip will you use to help you find the time to run?

      Disclaimer: You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in exercise or training I recommend, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Running With Roots from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Running With Roots. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your diet or exercise. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. The views expressed are based on my own experiences, and should not be taken as medical, nutrition or training advice.

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