7 Jan

The Busy Runner

Running with dogs

There's no doubt that exercise is good for us - mind, body and soul. But where can we find the time to go for that run? Christine Appel has a few ideas...

If you've chosen running as your way to get moving, then you've chosen the best sport possible for busy people. We runners don't have to worry about pool opening times, carrying enough spare inner tubes or juggling fitness-class timetables to keep our training on track. All we need are our shoes, a place to run and a bit of time to keep on top of our goals. Here are some of our favourite ideas for squeezing a few miles into a busy day:

Running to/from work
Running to/from work is a great way to make use of what would otherwise be wasted time. If running all the way isn't practical or safe, try getting off the train or bus a few stops earlier to run a shorter part of the journey. If your work doesn't have showers (and if being sweaty in meetings all day isn't your favourite look), get the bus in and just enjoy the stress-busting freedom of the run home.

Make walkies, runnies
Dogs are for life, not just for Christmas - and they are also fantastic companions on a run. Nothing will get you out of the house faster than an over-excited Best Friend eager for his morning five-miler!

Join a club
Joining a club is a great way to make the most of your time. Knowing exactly when and where you will be fitting in your runs helps take the stress out of planning your training week. It also makes you less likely to back out, knowing your friends are waiting for you.

The lunchtime slot
Lunchtime isn't just for lunch! Make the most of your break by heading out for a run. It will give you a whole new perspective on the afternoon's work, and help burn off the biscuits you probably shouldn't have eaten at the morning sales review! If you're lucky enough to have additional fitness facilities near to your office, make the most of them to free up evenings and weekends for running.

Runtime is friends time
Set a goal with friends or colleagues and run together. This could mean running a new distance for all of you, or raising money for charity. Making running part of your social life rather than boring old 'exercise' can make it seem less of a chore, especially as the days shorten. Treat yourselves as a group every so often as you meet your goals with a nice meal out or drink (isotonic, of course!)

A family affair
Make running a family affair. If your partner or children enjoy running, bring them along too. Set routes that match everyone's ability, with frequent stops or café facilities near the end. Any exercise is good exercise, and stopping once or twice to feed the ducks won't be the end of the world for your training.

Pram Runner

Be a pushy runner
If you're a new parent, invest in a running pushchair. Bringing up baby doesn't mean bringing up the rear! There's a great variety of running pushchairs out there at the moment, including a thriving second-hand market to help keep costs down. You don't need the latest gadgets or this year's colours to get back to pre-baby shape; you just need something that makes it easy to pick up the pace a bit on your strolls around the park or into town.

Exercise double-up
More experienced runners can borrow a trick from triathletes and combine fitness sessions. Running to the gym or pool has both time-saving and fitness benefits. Similarly cycling to your running start.

Catch the running worm
There are never enough hours in the day but getting up early to run before work helps a lot of people, especially parents, fit their 'me' time into a busy schedule. Early birds can spend the rest of day relaxed, knowing they have already done their miles for the day.