Bill Clinton used to run regularly while he was US President. So does George Bush, though he ran more frequently during his first term. Industrialists Naveen Jindal and Anil Ambani run regularly, too. I would say these are people who have at least as hectic a schedule as you and me, and perhaps a little more on their minds!
So, let’s check how running can actually help when you have a packed week ahead, with travelling thrown in to boot.
Rahul S Verghese
How can running help?
Overcome jet lag: I used to travel 150,000-200,000 miles a year during my last assignment at Motorola. My work also entailed late nights, which I had to survive despite jet lag. I found that the best thing just off a Delhi-Chicago flight and a rental car ride to the hotel was not a snooze. It was popping into the hotel gym for a 30-45-minute run as soon as I’d checked in. It worked wonders to shake off the jet lag, and left me bright and chirpy the whole day (and night). Try it.
Get ready for the day: Those busy folks I mentioned in the beginning have often stated that they run early in the morning to energize themselves for the day that follows. They also plan out strategies and sort through issues while they run. What better way to do this than by being in the lap of nature, with the birds chirping or waves lashing the shore, or running along a deserted road while witnessing a sunrise that few in the city would have experienced?
De-stress: This is another good reason given by people who are keen to run in the early mornings: It can be a very relaxing time. There is no need to plan anything—just keep your mind free and take in the fresh air, feel good… A great way to start a new day!
How to make the time
• Get up 30 minutes earlier. But I don’t have any time, you say to yourself. And while that is true, just see if you can skip 30 minutes of your evening, get to sleep that much earlier and get up 30 minutes earlier. Try it for a week and see how you feel.
• Block your daily calendar for your exercise time. Check out of your desk at the lightest time of your workday. If you have a gym at the office, spend 45 minutes to 2 hours as your exercise time. That is YOUR time. Get people to respect that.
• Pack your shoes, shorts and T-shirt when you travel. Either pound the pavements near your hotel or use the treadmill in the gym. If you have a bit of jet lag and are up at 4.30am, just head for the gym.
• Get your kids ready for school. Family bonding and exercise go hand-in-hand as you head out for a run just as the kids’ school bus pulls away. Come back and read the papers while you are cooling down and stretching. That’s what I do, and I find I have switched from being a late-night party animal to more of an early-morning person.
• Keep your shoes, shorts, T-shirt and socks by your bedside. Then the morning chore of getting ready and getting out of the house becomes simple and quick.
• Have one less drink and an extra glass of water when you go out to party. The former makes sure you can wind up a bit earlier. The latter gets you to avoid a hangover or dehydration, so it’s easier to get up feeling suitably chirpy in the morning.
• Hold meetings over a run. Sounds crazy? I have done this several times. Well, some people go for walks to talk work. Others play golf. And several people around the world run as they talk over their deal! Running is the “next golf”, only it’s cheaper and more egalitarian! The meetings are crisper, the conversations shorter and focused—or else you can step up the pace and make sure your garrulous partner gets pulled up sharp. See, it’s efficient, too!
So tomorrow, let yourself run out of excuses. Go for a run!
(Rahul S. Verghese is a management consultant and founder of Runningandliving.com. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org)