One of the biggest hurdles to fitness success is often time — it can be hard to carve that time out into your schedule. But I think most of us can find that time if it’s important to us.

I had to really rethink my routine when I started training hard again two years ago.

What (currently) works best for me involves a decent amount of prep on the weekend and splitting my running and cross-training into two sessions on either end of the day.

Let me preface this with a statement that I don’t pull this off perfectly every week or every day — but my training and mental health benefit greatly when I do.

On Sundays, I sit down in the evening and update this here blog, usually around the same time I participate in the #FitnessEdu Twitter chat.

Once the blog is finished, it’s scheduling time. I use The Runner’s Diary by Matt Fitzgerald as one of two main training logs. (Garmin Connect website is my main tracking site; the hand-written diary gives me more space for reflection, additional data like heart rate and weight, and planning space.)

I review the schedule laid out for the week and make adjustments as needed — maybe because I need a little more rest, or maybe because of a calendar conflict. As I do this, I add my runs to my iPhone calendar and check for those conflicts. I also schedule my cross-training sessions onto the Runner’s Diary plan and into my calendar. Yes, this is duplication, but it makes sure I don’t decide to go run when I should be heading to the office (guilty) or plan on running after work when I have a meeting until 5:30 (also guilty). My phone calendar becomes my go-to resource right before bed — to set my alarm — and right when I wake up.

Part of my scheduling process is figuring out when I can get the workouts in. Sometimes I can block running and cross-training together, but many days it’s easier on my schedule to split them.

We joined Milestone Health and Wellness Center almost two years ago, which expanded my opportunities (and is when I actually started training … and cross-training). Milestone opens at 5:30 a.m. during the week and closes at 10 p.m. The locker room is clean and functional so I can easily get ready there before work. They also have an on-site cafe and spa with massage therapy, so it’s a one-stop-shop not far from home. (There’s even a physical therapy office.)

Clothes, ready to roll.
Clothes, ready to roll.

Once everything is in the calendar, I check the week’s weather and lay out my clothes for the week. This is the part people always seem surprised by, but it’s really helpful. I include all my undergarments and accessories, too. It saves an incredible amount of time each day.

When I’m really on top of things, I also menu plan for the week on Sunday and go shopping. This has fallen by the wayside a bit this fall but I’m trying to get back on track.

On that front, I use Evernote to collect all my recipes and I’ll make my shopping list and menu plan in there. You can link to other notes, so it’s really easy to make a note for the week with links to each recipe along with the shopping list.

I repeat a similar process each evening, usually while I’m cooking dinner.

First — check schedule for work and working out. Is the schedule set on Sunday going to work? Did I make an adjustment earlier in the week that I need to compensate for? Any new work developments? (I work in public school public relations so things can change quickly.)

Next, check the weather. If I’m doing a workout before work, I lay those clothes out in the master bathroom. I also tuck my headlamp, heart rate monitor and keys into my shoes by the door if I’m running outside.

What my Milestone locker looks like on a day I’m working out there both before and after work.

If I’m doing a workout after work, those clothes are also packed and put in my gym bag. And if I’m getting ready at the gym, my makeup bag and hair stuff goes in now — I’ve left without my makeup bag many times. And, if I’m getting ready at the gym, I pull one of my outfits from the closet and get that packed.

This becomes really, really important on days when I am working out at the gym in the morning, getting ready there, and then coming back for an evening workout. That’s not an unusual day, but it is a day that clearly requires some thinking ahead.

Nutrition is the next step. I pack my lunch, usually using some sort of bento-style box. My current favorite is by Sistema. I also set aside what I’m going to eat for breakfast and get my Recoverite bottles ready.

Then, hopefully, it’s time for dinner and some quiet time with my hubs before bed. Typically I get to bed around 11 and get up between 5:15-6:30, depending on the morning workkout schedule.

Having everything prepped in advance makes sure I can get the workouts in and that everything is stress-free. I’ve forgotten shoes for work, bottoms for yoga, makeup, etc. It’s frustrating and usually both time-consuming and money-consuming. In fact, the time I forgot my work shoes, I went to Target to buy some (faster than home) and my car battery died and I ended up having to wait for AAA anyway.

I should also note that I have a somewhat flexible work schedule — depending on my meeting schedule etc., anything between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. is standard. If I’m working late, I will put my workouts into the morning so I might get to work a little later. Vice-versa for an early work day. Oh, and we don’t have kids, so that frees up a lot of time.

Other tips? Share below!