How to Run on a Busy Schedule: Student Edition

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It’s my senior year of college. I’m struggling to maintain a minimum of 20 hours of work each week, 18 units worth of classes, a running training plan, my friendships, and a serious relationship. Am I sane? Probably not. Am I tired? Well, what runner isn’t. Am I surviving? Yes. Here are my top tips for surviving what may, at times, feel like the end of the world.

Early bird gets the miles.

Running requires rest, and going to a party until 3 in the morning is not going to gain you anything but slowed recovery and a massive hangover. Go ahead and enjoy a beer or two with friends, but make sure to rehydrate and hit the hay early enough so that you’re well rested for your run the next day. Going to sleep with the rising of the moon and waking with the rise of the sun helped improve my running, my focus in class, and my dietary choices. Enjoying a sunrise run with the song of morning birds and crisp morning air…well, I don’t know about you, but I’d trade those few more beers for that experience any day.

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Plan your day out in advance.

Whether it’s using that day planner from mom or Google calendar or whatever suits your fancy, organize your life. Checking my planner and seeing what lies ahead for the week helps me to stay on top of assignments, responsibilities, and my running. Having a plan keeps me from dropping my run for the day to cram an assignment in last minute (yeah, we’ve all been there).

Implement a training schedule.

If you are running the same mileage at the same pace six days a week, stop and reevaluate. Implementing a training schedule that involves a variety of runs helps your body recover faster and grow stronger, while freeing up time that you wouldn’t normally have had on some days. If I have a long run and an exam on the same day, I know in advance and am able to prepare accordingly. Adding my training schedule to my planner has helped me stay on top of a training plan and track my progress.

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Social sacrifices are O.K.

Image courtesy of @tp_therapy & @fitwithash23 on Instagram

This one was a hard one for me as I am an extreme extrovert, but I learned that in order to juggle everything I have going on, I need to be able to say no. Don’t get me wrong, I have serious FOMO sometimes (fear of missing out), but not once have I regretted spending the night in massaging my muscles with my roller, drinking a hot chocolate recovery drink (recipe below), and watching Netflix. Balance is key for your mental and physical health.

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Make Hot Cocoa with Chocolate Recovery Drink

Prioritize your priorities.

Sit down and think, really think, about what matters most to you at this point in life. Is it your grades? Your running? Your professional life? Your social life? Prioritize your priorities, as hard as it might be, and schedule yourself accordingly. For example, since I’m taking so many classes on top of working and running right now, I chose to prioritize my running (it keeps my mental health in check), followed by school (do as best as I can, but don’t expect straight A’s), followed by work.

At the end of the day, you’re taking on a lot. You’re doing a lot, and you need to remember that no one is perfect. What brings me comfort is knowing that all I can do is my best, and that’s enough. When I doubt myself, I find myself turning to my family of coworkers and learning from them how to juggle life. My coworker, Connor, put it well: “You have to accept the fact that you can’t excel at everything all the time…It was all a balance, and while I don’t think I ever mastered it, I got through it and managed to hit some of my goals along the way.” Connor is right, go out and hit your goals (or don’t) – but do what makes you happy, and know that this is just right now, and not forever.

Sierra balances an overflowing schedule of work, college, and running, and can relate to any 20-something who’s trying to figure out life. Her running is her kind of self-care – and also the small amount of time that she gets to spend with herself every day, coming before all else (except her dog, Butters).

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