Ditch the kids, your partner and run – they’ll thank you for it

One of the most important things you can do to make your holidays full of family fun is to keep your running on track

Q: I'm so pee'd off because my little routine of going for a run just after dropping the kids off at school has gone right out of the window – and with it my sanity.  How can I reclaim it over the holidays?  – Abby

A Abby, I feel your pain. In fact, I share it. Finding the time and energy for a run when you’ve got a seven-week stretch with the kids is tough. And it’s such a shame, because we need those endorphins more than ever over the summer holidays when, let’s face it, our patience can wear a little thin. I started off in week one full of joy and energy and good intentions, and by week two I was on my knees with exhaustion.

The principal problem is finding the time to run. I slacked off in the first two weeks (using the “I don’t have time” excuse) and suffered for it. So did my family, because I was more grumpy, fractious and irritable than usual.  It sounds as though you are at home, Abby, looking after the kids while your partner is out at work.  If this is the case, then the only way to find time is to create more of it. Get up an hour before your husband has to leave for work and run then.

This may sound ludicrously gritty, but try and look at it like this:  you’d probably be awake anyway, because at least one child will already be up.  So in going for a run now, you are giving yourself some bonus kid-free time. Your other half can hardly complain about being on duty while his wife punches out a five-mile run before breakfast, can he?  He is going to be bowled over by your grit and commitment, and respect you all the more for it. So will your kids.


Remember to have your running kit laid out by your bed

When you return from your run to the chaos, you will simply float through the rest of the morning, trust me. And your Zen-like calm will have a positive impact on the kids too because the happier we are, the happier they are.

Remember to have your running kit laid out by your bed (ideally with an alarm underneath to wake you up) to motivate you into said kit and out the front door before you can talk yourself out of it.

Even if you can only manage this once or twice a week, that’s plenty, because you will also be running on both days of the weekend, when there are always windows if you are determined to spot them and organised enough to exploit them. The best way to do this is to discuss with your other half and commit to a plan in advance. Then stick to it: I’m going running at 10am, okay?  And give your partner the time and opportunity for their workout as well.

I don’t care so much about losing fitness or gaining a few pounds over the summer, it’s my mental health that I can’t afford to compromise. The success of our family summer holidays is contingent upon my patience levels, and I find that a run literally buys me bags of it.

I enjoy being around the kids so much more after a run

The first time I managed to squeeze a run in this summer holiday was on day four of week two, very early before my husband had to get up for work.  The day I spent afterwards with the twins was so much easier than the three non-running days that led up to it. And the only thing that was different was my mood, my attitude, which had been transformed by that run.

Less frustrated

I realised that day that one of the most important investments I can make to our summer holidays, and to family fun is to run regularly. I enjoy being around the kids so much more after a run. I get less frustrated and feel relaxed, yet have bags of energy to deal with all their questions and demands.

Maybe it’s partly to do with having treated myself to 40 minutes on my own, out in the open air and free of everyone that makes me feel so good. I know that if I haven’t had that time to myself away from the kids and the domestic or work sphere all day – I can feel resentful about it.

Being fully in charge of where I’m headed to, and how quickly or slowly I’m going to get there, gives me a sense of power and confidence. For the duration of every run I am master of my own destiny, and afterwards I’m left with an overwhelming sense of peace and gratitude.

The Grit Doctor says

Summer runs for you = summer fun for all.

Sign up for one of The Irish Times' Get Running programmes (it is free!).

First, pick the programme that suits you.
- Beginner Course: This programme is an eight-week course that will take you from inactivity to being able to run 30 minutes non-stop.
- Stay On Track: The second programme is an eight-week course for those of you who can squeeze in a 30- to 40-minute run three times a week.
- 10km Course: This is an eight-week course designed for those who can comfortably run for 30 minutes and want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!