WHY does Barack Obama find time for basketball??

Have you seen those videos and pictures of Barack Obama playing basketball with friends and college players?  I remember looking at them and thinking A. Wow! He’s actually pretty decent and B. How the **** does he find the time to do that?!?!?  He’s the President of the United States!!  Not only that, but every morning when in Washington, Obama hits the gym between 7:30 and 8:30, alternating cardio days and weights days.* Impressive, right?

Source: By White House (Pete Souza) / Maison Blanche (Pete Souza) (The Official White House Photostream[1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This last couple of weeks, I have noticed so many people talking about how little time they have to run.  It has brought back memories of a cringe-worthy conversation that I had with a CEO, when I lived in Belgium 6 years ago.  I was chatting to the CEO of one of the biggest hospital trusts in England about her running.  I had just done my first marathon in Helsinki and she had just done her latest marathon in London, a few months before.  We were talking about how much time and effort it takes to train and complete one of these things.  I remember complaining (keep in mind i was in my late twenties) about how little time I had to train….. You can probably imagine that right now, as an older and slightly wiser person, I can literally feel myself cringing at the thought of what I was saying!  How could I possibly say to the CEO of one of England’s biggest and most high profile hospital trusts, in charge of budgets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, responsible for thousands of patients every year, that I had no time.  She probably wanted to give me a slap, but thankfully, if she did, she withheld.

The strange thing is that our friend President Obama and this CEO are not that unusual.  CEO’s, Executives, leaders in industry and politics around the world are often extremely capable athletes.  I’m not talking world class level necessarily, but certainly what you and I would consider pretty impressive, especially considering the jobs they do.

Most of us have uttered the words “I don’t have time for my run tonight” and lack of time is definitely one of the biggest excuses that we use for why we can’t do something, including our running.  By pointing this out, I’m not saying that we aren’t busy, stressed or low on energy.  Far from it, but by saying that you don’t have time, you are simply prioritising something else over your running or exercise. Whether that’s eating, resting, working, sleeping, playing, it’s not positive or negative, it just is what it is.


So the interesting question is, WHY do CEO’s and other leaders, with some of the most stressful, energy sapping and time consuming jobs on the planet, MAKE SURE that they prioritise exercise and find the time to run?


Here’s my top three reasons why…

1. Running helps you manage stress

Too much stress is not good news.  Too much stress can cause your mind and body to do strange things and ultimately break down.  Exercise is a great way to get a release tension and begin to manage that stress.  Less stress also usually means better sleep and better eating habits usually, which are areas most of us want to improve.

I recently had two clients come on board at Go Run, whose first aim was to use running for stress relief and to “feel healthier.”  They didn’t have a specific distance, event or time in mind, but simply to feel better.  I personally know how much running de-stresses me.  It gets rid of pent up frustration, certainly helps me switch off my overthinking brain and strangely enough, helps me solve work problems that I might have been thinking about for days. Now, if you are a business owner, CEO or in fact in any job that has a degree of complexity or stress, that would all be useful, right? 

2. Running gives you energy.

Despite what you may think, running gives you energy.  As a beginner runner you tend to look at how much energy you are going to use and how many calories you are going to burn by going for a run, and it is tricky to get your head around how running could GIVE you energy.  Surely you won’t have anything left for the rest of the day?!?

Check out this text message from one of my clients after her session a couple of weeks ago.  She is getting back into running and freely admits that her energy level are low and she is very time poor.

It was great to hear that our run/walk session in the morning before she went to work had given her more energy for her day and she was calmer too!  Aaah! the wonders of endorphins and runner’s high! 

3. Running is a simple, personal challenge

If you are President of the United States, an Executive or a CEO, you are probably dealing with all sorts of challenges on a minute by minute basis.  You probably had a few challenges to overcome in getting to that position in the first place!

Improving your running gives you a different type of challenge in a completely different environment.  For a start, you aren’t at the top of the tree any more, your accounting or business credentials don’t really matter to the barista or accountant that just lapped you on the track!  I run with hundreds of people each week and know what less than 5% of them do for work.  It just doesn’t matter in that environment.  Many people like that anonymity.  It allows them to be someone else for an hour and talk to people in a different way about different things.

Secondly, the challenges of running are simple and pure by comparison.  There are fewer rules, less politics and improvement comes from basic self discipline, consistency and effort.  In other words, you get out what you put in.  Simple.  That simplicity compared to the complex world of work certainly has its appeal to many of us!

So there's my thoughts!  Why do you find the time to fit in your running?  Does it help with your stress and energy levels too?  Do you agree or disagree with the three points above?

Reply in the comments section below or mail me directly if you want, it would be awesome to hear from you!

Have a great day!

- Chris

P.S I have just opened up the new Go Run online shop here.  No big song and dance, just good quality, simple running gear at decent prices. Take a look and let me know what you think!