Time Management: 6 Time-Saving Tips for Working Runners

You have a 40-hour a week job and, at the same time, are trying to get ready for a big race? If so, you are probably no stranger to stress. Family and friends also want to spend time with you, the chores aren’t going to do themselves and there still needs to be time left over for regeneration. We asked Christian Pflügl, the Austrian long-distance running star, how to balance all these conflicting demands and his answer was – good time management! Especially in endurance sports like marathon running or triathlon that require many, many hours of training.

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Christian: “I have to juggle a lot of different things. Running is a full-time job. Between job and family, things can really start to add up. I can’t just go running and forget everything at the door. A certain degree of planning is needed: family, friends, regeneration and work.”

Taking a conscious and systematic approach to planning your schedule gives you more time and helps you avoid stress. To be able to focus on the important things in your life, you must first decide what is personally important to you. Write down your personal goals. What do you want to achieve, and what makes you happy? Once you know what is important to you, it’ll be easier to set priorities. You can’t be everywhere at the same time and always give everything 100 percent. If you want to compete in the Olympic marathon, you shouldn’t try to become a world famous opera singer at the same time.

Get the most out of your limited time. These 6 tips can help you find a balance between family, career and sport:

First get an overview
Before you start planning, it’s a good idea to get an overview of all your tasks and duties and write them down. A simple list is enough to make you aware of your daily workload. You should also write down how long it takes you to do each task – it doesn’t need to be exact, just rule of thumb. For which activity would you like more time, and where could you save time? Are there any activities you could get rid of because they’re real time-eaters?

Set a realistic goal for yourself
Set an athletic goal that is realistic for you – it should be attainable physically and fit into your schedule. Maybe your goal of running a marathon this year is still unrealistic, but next year, and with longer to prepare, completely doable. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. Take a long-term approach to planning your athletic goals. This way you not only achieve your goals, but you also reduce the risk of injury.

Plan ahead
Use the weekend to plan the next week and set training times in your schedule. Putting something down in writing is far more binding than simply thinking about going running tomorrow morning. The day has 24 hours, but it’s not always easy finding time to work out. Have you ever thought of taking a run in the morning or riding your bike to work?

When asked how he plans his day, Christian said: “I get up at 5:30 am, so I can start running at 5:45 am. At 7:30 am I eat a big breakfast, before that often just a banana or a glass of juice. Then it’s off to work. If you run in the morning, you get more out of your day and are much more motivated. If I get home at around 7 pm, then I can often squeeze in a second run. I go to bed at 9:30 pm, or sometime around then. I really enjoy the time when I’m actually at home and can spend more quality time with my children.”

Even when something unexpected comes up at work and you have to stay longer at the office, you still have got your kilometers in. You don’t feel like getting up earlier in the morning, or you find running in the morning really stressful? Maybe there is a fitness studio or a swimming pool near you and you can use your lunch break for a short workout. So you don’t spend too much unnecessary time on the road, it pays to drive straight from work to training or to go running somewhere in the neighborhood.

Don’t forget about you
Set priorities and don’t be afraid to say no. Often there will be unexpected requests, also concerning your plans for the evening. Make sure to leave time for recovery. Your job and private life alone can already be quite stressful. Your physical training can add to this stress. Plan to treat yourself to some ‘you’ time. This not only lowers your stress level, but it also improves your athletic performance.

Christian: “I live in the Almtal Valley. When I feel stressed, I take time out for me and go for a walk.”

No one can handle the constant strain of permanent stress. These ideas can help you to reduce your stress level and speed up your regeneration: massages,
foam rolling, and relaxing baths with essences (balm, rosemary, valerian, lavender, and hay flowers).

Accept help
Let your family and friends participate in your athletic goals and share your passion with them. Ask them for help and make it clear to them how important this goal is to you. This increases their acceptance!

Christian: “I’m lucky to have a really incredible environment. Without the support of your family and spouse/partner, there is no way you can work so determinedly towards your goal. I always discuss everything openly with my wife and tell her what I’m thinking. Then we decide together whether we can do this as a family or not.”

Make flexible plans
Plans provide structure and give you a framework to help you get your bearings. Every once in a while, however, situations will come up in which you have to react quickly. Consider your schedule as a helper, not dates and times set in stone. More isn’t always better! Are things at work really hectic and are you totally stressed out? A plan that is too strict, both in terms of training and work, can be really stressful. Make sure to plan some leeway in your schedule and don’t budget more than 60% of your time.

Christian: “After 23 years of competitive sports, I know which training sessions are important and what they do for my body. Of course, I try to stick to my training schedule, but sometimes I only accomplish 90% of it.”

About Christian:

christian pflügl

Christian Pflügl is Austria’s top long-distance runner and is currently getting ready for his big dream – the 2016 Olympic Games. There, he would like to run his last big race in the Olympic marathon and thus fulfill his life’s dream. The 36-year-old Upper Austrian and World Championship competitor works, has three children, trains 14 to 15 times a week and is an absolute pro at planning his time effectively.

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