Balancing Family and Fitness

December 05, 2023

The idea of a fitness routine and planned regular running sessions every week sounds straightforward on the face of it. But when you have a family, this seemingly easy routine becomes a difficult map to navigate. Run Republic asked Marathon runners for their advice for parents who may be struggling with that training/family balance and how to get the hours in without impacting your family life.

There was one answer that seemed universal among the group of runners I spoke to, EARLY MORNING RUNS! ‘Crack of dawn at the weekend for long runs’, ‘Early morning runs. Just get up and go, even if it’s 5:30 or 6pm’, ‘If there aren't enough hours in the day then you gotta steal some from the night, bed early and up early!’ and ‘Long runs early morning’ were just some of the examples of people’s approaches towards getting the hours in while not impacting their family life.

While it was widely accepted that this was a great way to attack your training, there were some people who did more than the run first thing in the morning. When training for a marathon, one run often isn’t enough. ‘What worked best for me was two 6ks (30min each) on Saturday and Sunday, then a 10-12k on Tuesday from 7.30-9:00am, I would then do my long one on Thursday from 6:00, so it would be 6:00-8:00 up to 6:00-9.30. It meant I wasn't impinging too much on family time, as I kept Friday free and only did short ones on Saturday and Sunday’.

A couple of people had the approach of adding runs in during lunch time ‘I get [my] lunch from 1-2 everyday [so I] get what I can done in that time’, and another contributor told me that ‘If possible, shorter runs at lunchtime, longer runs at the crack of dawn. It’s definitely hard’. There is a real mix of ideas and training routines for parents. It certainly isn’t a case where if it works for one parent it must work for all parents.

‘Two of my short(er) runs were done during a window that my child was at an activity. One during a morning while he was at school. Long runs were on Sunday mornings, and as they got longer, I went out earlier.’

Another idea for parents is to run with people. If you have friends who are training or are struggling to make time to train, arrange a morning time that suits you both and get out there as these person explained, ‘I ran with a small group of people for longer runs, would normally meet up early morning 6.30 and try get done before work, was tricky with young family’.

The fact of the matter is, it’s not easy. Whether you train to prepare for Marathons, or train for peace of mind, your training is always going to be impacted if you have kids. However, there is always a way to make time and get out there for the training you desire. If you want to train in the morning, train on your lunch break, or train while your kids are at their own activities, running will be there to embrace you when you do so. As one contributor explained ‘Running is the most convenient (and cheapest) sport there is’.

You are not alone in worrying about your family time being impacted, but if you can put any of these ideas into practice, the mental and physical benefits will be incredible. There is always a way to hit the road for that run you so crave.

Featured Image: Dundrum AC's John Moore at the Park Run 5k in Warwickshire with his daughter and her friends.