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How to fit running into your busy schedule

Life’s unexpected curveballs can easily scupper your training plans. In fact, research shows one-in-five Brits
blame lack of time (and lethargy!) for not exercising at all. We’ve asked a panel of experts how you can stay on top of your goals when life is crying out for you to let them slide.

The Hurdle: Family Commitments

If you’re struggling to squeeze a run into your busy family life, it’s time to think outside of the box.

Train Together

Data from Bupa shows
that running mums spend more quality time with their children. And not only that, 65 per cent of running mums find it easier to juggle everyday tasks compared to 43 per cent of non-active mums. ‘Use family as a positive by getting your partner or children involved, and encouraging them to train together,’ suggests Tom Coates, personal trainer at PureGym.

Book in Runs

Research in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology shows people who diarise their training sessions are more likely to stick to their programme. ‘Those of us who record runs tend to exercise more frequently than those who don’t, so are far more likely to see results,’ says Dean Hodgkin, personal trainer at Ragdale Hall.

Run to School

Ditch the car
and encourage your children to get fit by scooting or cycling to school. ‘That way you can run alongside them at a leisurely pace (or faster if you’re running late) and then run back home, too,’ adds Alison Beadle, pre- and post-natal fitness author at livewellbhappy.co.uk.

Buddy Up

A recent poll by the British Heart Foundation confirms that women would rather run as part of a group, with almost half confirming that group running is preferable to jogging alone. ‘Consider joining a mummy running club, in which people run with buggies,’ suggests Beadle.

The Hurdle: A Demanding Job

Don’t let your job define your fitness levels. With these nifty notions, you’ll clock that training session, whatever the agenda.

Club Together

Two-thirds of British workers take less than 20 minutes for lunch. Not only is this not good for your health, but it’s also bad for your productivity. ‘Running in your lunch hour provides a change of scenery from the office that can help you de-stress and re-focus,’ points out Brook Fenton, Proskins running expert.

Run To Work

Try running to and from work. Park the car a few miles away from work or get off the train a stop earlier and run into the office. Not only will you save money and keep fit, but research from the University of East Anglia shows that active commuters are better able to concentrate than workers who travel by car.

Train Fast

Even if you’re training for an endurance race, speed sessions are worthwhile workouts, too. ‘With interval training, it’s easy to fit in a shorter run if need be,’ says Coates. Try squeezing in a run by doing three lots of one-, two- and three-minute efforts, with 30 seconds’ recovery between intervals.

Stick Up Reminders

If you’re still struggling to swap work
for miles, try hanging a medal from your computer says Hodgkin. ‘Even keeping a spare pair of trainers in the back of your car, so that you see them every time you open the boot, can be quite persuasive.’

The Hurdle: A Busy Social Life

One of the benefits of running is that it’s a solo sport but swapping days out for miles on the road can be a bit lonely.

Get ’Appy

Running doesn’t have to be a lonely activity. Social training apps such as Sprinter, Garmin Connect or Strava are a fantastic way to connect with other runners. ‘With 100,000 new members signing up to Strava each week, athletes of all abilities are joining the community so that they can track and compare their activities to help motivate them,’ explains Gareth Nettleton, director of international marketing at Strava.

Run with Friends

Far from detaching you from your social group, running could be a great way to bring you together. ‘Research shows that training with a friend leads to greater adherence to your workout schedule,’ explains Hodgkin.

Rise Early

If you’re finding it difficult to balance weekend runs with social events, get into the habit of running before the day starts. ‘Waking up earlier for a
run is tough at first but, by training in the morning, you’re giving yourself the rest
of the day for other commitments – not
to mention starting the day in a positive way,’ says Coates.

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How to fit running into your busy schedule

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Do it like a Pro

1 Roll with the punchesTrain2WinIf you’re up for trying something different from your ordinary gym workout while taking things to the next level, then it’s worth checking out boxing programme Train2Win. Brought to you by strength and conditioning coach Dan Lawrence and British boxing champ George Groves, the detailed 10-week programme is designed to improve strength and mobility across all levels. There are three levels to choose from – beginner, intermediate and advanced – so whether you’re looking for a fun but structured method of training or you’re keen to brush up on your boxing skills, rest assured that you’ll be challenged throughout the course. The 10 weeks are broken down into four ‘blocks’ to focus on a particular area of fitness: two weeks of general prep, four weeks of strength, two weeks of speed and strength, and two weeks of speed and endurance. Channel your inner Pacquiao!£125, train2winboxing.com2 Hit the streetsRunFitKeen runner

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Do it like a Pro

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Pedal power

Jumping on a shiny new steed and pedalling off into the sunset is a glorious feeling – you just can’t beat it! But if you haven’t saddled up for a few years, you may be wondering where to start or why to bother. Don’t worry! We caught up with Gareth Turner from Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) to chat about the benefits of life on two wheels and how you can get back in the race. 

Slim cycle

Jumping on your bike is a fantastic way to blitz calories and trim down. ‘Cycling is a great way to lose weight and a brilliant way to burn calories – you can burn around 500 calories an hour cycling and sometimes much more,’ says Gareth. ‘Cycling can also have the added benefit of increasing your metabolism – even after the ride is over.

And it’s a great option for working out on your commute. Think about it – you can get your workouts in on the way to and from work and cancel that gym membership altogether if you want! ‘And, because it is a non-weight bearing exercise, it’s a lot easier on the joints than something like running, so you can do it more often,’ says Gareth. Sounds good to us!

It’s also a great toner, working your lower body hard, which – thanks to this focus on the bigger muscles in your body (bum and legs!) also burns fat. ‘Cycling helps to tone your muscles and works your calves, thighs and bottom, while also giving your shoulders and arms a workout, too,’ says Gareth.

Healthy heart

Cycling is not only bags of fun, and a great way to stay in shape, it’s good for your heart, too. ‘Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness,’ explains Gareth. ‘And the British Heart Foundation says that cycling regularly can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent.’ 

Mind matters

And getting on your bike could have benefits for the mind, too. ‘It’s not just the body that sees the benefits, as cycling is believed to reduce stress, anxiety and provide a sense of wellbeing,’ says Gareth. A cycle home after a long day is a great way to shake off your worries.

Wheely wheely fun

Whizzing around on a bike gives you a great sense of freedom and there are so many types of cycling, and types of bikes, you can try. ‘Cycling can be very varied and fun – try mountain bike trails, exhilarating downhills, BMX and road biking with amazing views,’ says Gareth. Plus it’s one of the few workouts in which you can have a good gas with your mates, too! Have you every tried catching up over a quick swim or disco rave class?! ‘Cycling can be very social by riding in a group and also with the family – everyone can get involved,’ adds Gareth. 

Back to it!

Check out Gareth’s top tips for beginners or those getting back into cycling:

The first thing that you will need is a bike; it’s best to visit a good bike shop where they can give advice and find you a bike that fits properly.

Start by riding comfortably for up to 45 minutes three times a week, then look to slowly build on the number of sessions, duration and speed of sessions gradually.

There are cycling proficiency courses that can build skills and get you ready for the road if you’re nervous.

Practise riding in a traffic-free area, such as a local park, to build confidence.

Why not get used to pedalling, standing and clipping in and out of pedals at a studio such as Cyclebeat (cyclebeat.co.uk) before heading out.

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Pedal power

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