6 simple tips on how to make time for running while kids are out of school

I have no trouble finding time to run when my kids are in school, but summer vacation presents some scheduling problems. Here are few tips to get through the summer so that you'll still be able to run or train for your race. Half marathon | fitness | running motivation | running quotes

Often times, when school comes to end so does our running and fitness. The truth is parents just don’t have the “kid free” time that they do during school months. Summer break does not mean you need to give up your training schedule. In fact, many are needing to ramp it up for their fall races. How do you make the time to train during summer? Here are a few tips to keep you on track:

1. Learn to love “dark o’ clock.” Set your alarm, put your running clothes out the night before, and be ready to roll before your spouse leaves for work. For those longer runs, consider breaking your run up into two parts. Splitting your run allows you to make the most of your time and it makes those long runs a little less daunting in those wee hours. Do the other half when your significant other returns from work that evening. If the full run is completed in less than 24 hours, your body has not had time to recover, so splitting your run up is completely legitimate. This also helps beat the heat in the dog days of summer.

2. Find a local gym that offers childcare. There are many, but one major chain that has multiple location across the country is Lifetime Fitness. They provide up to two hours of childcare a day. You could use this time as a cross train and strength day or hit the treadmill. If the mill is not your thing, tell the childcare center you will be running outside and will carry your phone so they can contact you. Run a route outside close to the gym.

3. Consider investing in a jogging stroller. Yes, investing… they are expensive but if this is important to you, than you’ll find a way. There are many great strollers out there, you can look right here…. but if can’t afford new, try used. My first jogging stroller was purchased on Craigslist for $75. Try posting a “want” for a gently used stroller on facebook and check garage sales as well. To find out more about stroller running, head over here to Mileposts. Dorothy is living proof that if you set your mind on a dream and you work hard anything is possible.

4. Find a neighbor or a friend to trade with. If you have a running buddy and they are training for a Fall race as well, think about trading childcare. A run usually only takes about an hour, it’s really not much to ask, and if you are trading it’s reciprocal – so everybody wins!

5. Hire a babysitter. Many high school and College kids are available during summer months and are happy to help out for a few hours. If you go on an hour run that costs on average between $10-20 dollars an hour, maybe even less in some areas. This method might be a bit too expensive for every day, but it will certainly work in those times when other options fail. Additionally, Sitter City and Care.com are two other great sources for finding a sitter.

6. Take the kids with you to the track. Once a week I do speed work at the local high school track. To my surprise, during my training last Fall I discovered that my kids absolutely love to go to the track. They play in the sand pit, explore under the bleacher’s, play kick ball and soccer with each other, bounce on the high jump pad and run my recovery laps with me. Not every kid or parent is going to love this option, but it’s worth a try – it certainly works for me.

It would be very easy to just tell yourself that running can wait or that you wished you had the time. Make the decision to change your life and have running or fitness become a part of it – other things can wait. When making your to-do list, put your fitness at the top of it. When you are healthy and fit you will be a happier, more well rounded person inside and out. And if you’re happy and in your center, you’ll become a better person to those around you. Don’t think of it as a chore but rather something you do for YOU, a necessity like brushing your teeth, or getting your hair cut. Sometimes it is tough to get out the door, but try to stop THINKing and start DOing. You will never regret that feeling of accomplishment.. a perfect way to kick off everyday.

How do you do to make time for your run during summer break?

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  1. says

    So many times i hear my friends complain that it’s harder to work out in the summer – I get the kid factor – but we’re smart and can figure it out! I love your post. The only thing I haven’t done is hire a babysitter. I’m a bit scared to try out someone I don’t know. I usually sucker in a family member to hang with the kids so I can run. With that said – most of the time I’ll be running in the morning or if I have to, I’ll do it while the 3 yr old is at day care (she only goes 3 days a week to “hold” her spot for the fall) or I just take both kids with me – Izzy in the jogger and Tucker on his bike.

  2. says

    Awesome! Great suggestions! I have one to add, which I see Jen also mentioned: have your kids bike along while you run. I used to do this with Joshua…until he started biking a 6 minute mile! Now we bike together!

  3. says

    Such good tips, my friend! I’m working on befriending dark’o’clock, not my best time of day, but essential in the summer heat. And I look forward to the day I can take L along to a track! That’s so great your kids enjoy it.

  4. says

    My kids aren’t in school yet but I use all of these tips already just to fit in my regular runs and workouts. Thankfully I’m a morning person so I’m up at 5 a.m. for my run before they are even awake for the day. During the summer it’s awesome because it’s already light out at that time!

  5. says

    This was our first week of break and it has hit me hard, I’ll admit. I am getting in my workouts, but feel like everything else, social media in particular, has taken a huge hit. Anyhow, when my kids were younger, the sitter was key. My husband and I alternate the early morning workouts, so I am left with daytime for a couple of days/week. There’s also always the treadmill and bike trainer if need be, the evening hours after the husband gets home, and don’t forget camps here and there! My kids do swim team also, so I’ll often run up to the pool while they bike up and keep going, returning when practice is over. I have to admit, I am really looking forward to next year when both kids are old enough to stay home alone–then it will be that much easier to get it all done!

  6. says

    Great post! My husband and I alternate runs: he’ll run in the morning, and then I’ll run in the evening or vice versa. We also try to do at least one family run during the week with the jogging stroller.

    I do have one question: based on your comment that two runs within a 24-hour period counts as one run since your body has not yet recovered – if you run in the evening and then run the next morning, is that considered one long run, or two separate runs? I only ask because my training does include an evening run followed by a morning run followed by a long run and now I’m wondering if thats too much.

    Also, do you have tips about running at dark’o’clock when it truly is dark out? (maybe you did a post on that already and I missed it?)

    • Lisa says

      Really great question.. yes, your body needs 24 hours to recover, so technically doing a run at night and then another in the early morning is a long run, although some may argue sleeping or “being off your legs” speeds the recovery time. My opinion is to give your body a full 24 hours to recover. If you have to do your workouts this way make the next day a rest or cross train day and do your long run the following day after that. I would have to look at your schedule to give you a solid plan.
      As far as running in the dark. I wear reflective gear and wear hand lights. I have also used a light that clips onto a baseball hat (both of these are available at Road Runner Sports) I try to stay within my housing development when it is really dark (I feel safer, my neighbors really take care) and as it lightens up I may head out onto the main streets. Always tell someone the route you are taking and how long you plan on being gone. Always carry a cell phone with you. Watching the sun come up is the best way to start a day. Happy Running and thank you for your comment and excellent questions!

  7. says

    My little one is not even a year, so not all of these apply to me. I ended up canceling my gym membership (no reliable/safe child care) and used that money to get a treadmill. I hope when I have baby #2 to get a double jogging stroller. A stroller isn’t practical right now because I live in the city and a 3rd story condo, I can’t get it up and down the stairs alone lol.

    • Lisa says

      That was a great call and good investment. Your treadmill can be used now while your child is small and latter for various other reasons, weather, etc. Yes, these tips are not for everyone, it was tough when I had three children in diapers. I did find a high school girl who could safely handle all three for an hour and only charged me $8 an hour. I feel blessed, but she was not easy to find. I had to really ask around and interview a slew of duds before getting her. Keep up those mill runs.. nothing wrong with training like that for a while until your circumstances change. Happy Running and that you for your comment! xo