I’m six weeks out from my next marathon, training 12 hours a week, and running most days before the sun comes up. I’m surviving on McDonald’s unsweet tea and sleeping in my running clothes. Also, I’m gainfully employed despite the fact I keep showing up with dirty hair. I’ll admit, I don’t have kids or pets. I don’t claim to be the busiest person out there; I know I’m not.
But I am a fan of Hack My Life even if it’s just annoying comedians trying things we all saw on Pinterest three years ago when Pinterest was THE. THING. I like life hacks because fitting it all in feels next to impossible at times. Really, how do you hack your life to fit more into your day every day while still getting your miles in and juggling the rest of your responsibilities, including eating well and looking somewhat respectable?
Enter Hack My Life: Salty Running Edition! It’s seven life hacks to make more time to run.
1. Become ruthlessly organized
Ok, so that is too big to tackle here and the big picture concept under which all the other hacks belong. But for starters, if you haven’t read “Getting Things Done,” I highly recommend it.
- Pro tip: If general organization is a challenge for you, consider keeping a bullet journal. It’s been proven to help even some of the most disorganized people add a little structure to their chaotic lives.
2. Outsource your training plan
Hiring a coach can take a huge weight off your shoulders. You literally don’t have to think about what workout you are going to run. You pull up the schedule and go do the work.
- Pro tip: pull up your training plan on Sunday and schedule your workouts on your calendar so that time is reserved and so you know if there are days with family or work obligations. This prevents the Crap, it’s 5:30 p.m. and I’m still at work and I still need to run but now I don’t want to so I’ll skip it, which can become a bad habit very quickly.
3. Lay out your clothes for the week on Sunday
Undergarments and accessories, too. Do not second-guess your choices in the morning. Just put it on. You’ll forget that you were second-guessing when you picked it out. And if you don’t, you won’t lay out that outfit again, since it sucked anyway. You will not believe how much easier this makes your life.
- Pro-tip: Sunday is my day, but you can make any day your day to lay out your clothes. The point is to do it once per week instead of seven or more!
4. Menu plan, grocery shop and lunch prep on Sunday
Or sign up for a meal delivery service; my husband and I tried it and loved the convenience but the food itself wasn’t great and didn’t come in large enough quantities for a couple logging a combined 30 hours of exercise per week. Some favorite recipe sources around Salty Running include Run Fast, Eat Slow, The Racing Weight Cookbook, and the magazines Real Simple and Clean Eating.
- Pro tip #1: Use Evernote or a similar app to collect all your recipes and to build your shopping list. In Evernote, you can link to other notes, so it’s really easy to make a note for the week with links to each recipe along with the shopping list.
- Pro tip #2: Put the meals on your calendar, especially if it’s shared with family members.
5. PREP EVERYTHING.
Get breakfast, lunch, and pre- and post-workout nutrition all ready before you go to bed. Although it sounds daunting at the end of a long day, somehow doing this always takes three-times longer in the morning.
6. Wear your running clothes to bed.
Seriously, forget pajamas if you’re running in the morning. That’s just more laundry anyway. Morning runners should also set shoes, safety gear, heart rate straps, and keys by the door. Less thinking = less stress. Other options include packing your gym bag the night before.
- Pro tip: If you get ready for work at the gym in the morning, DEFINITELY pack the night before. Especially your shoes, underwear and makeup, all of which I’ve forgotten more than once.
7. Buy stock in dry shampoo.
Or pixie cut your hair. But seriously, it’s not the washing that’s so time consuming, it’s the drying and styling. Dry shampoo also fools your significant other into thinking you showered.
- Pro tip: In a pinch, baby powder is an adequate and cheap dry shampoo substitute. Rub some between your fingers and toss into hair.
Consistency and preparation are key to improving your running performance, and hacking your life ensures you get your workouts in while reducing your stress levels. You’ll no longer be running around all crazy on the way out the door in the morning hoping to not forget something AND you’ll get the added stress relief from your own running endorphins. Planning and preparing often allow you to sleep a few minutes more in the morning, too!
What shortcuts do you employ to make sure your running and cross-training happen?