When I had my son in May of last year, I challenged myself to run a marathon before he turned a year old. Of course, I didn’t tell anyone about this challenge just in case I couldn’t do it. Just in case this whole “being a mom” thing was harder than I thought. Well let me tell you, it was harder than I thought. WAY harder than I thought. But on May 6, 2018, one week before my son turned one, I ran a marathon.
Why run a marathon, especially right after having a baby? Well a lot of people asked me that as I got closer to the race. Marathon training is a time consuming process, there’s no denying that. I’ve run four full marathons prior to this, but make no mistake, I’m not a fast runner nor am I lifelong runner. I’m not the girl who ran cross country in high school and has been doing this her entire life. I’m not the girl who will ever qualify for Boston. I started running as an adult to provide some stress relief from my job and to lose a little weight, and it’s been a hobby ever since. I have a lot of days when I love running, the days when it’s sunny out and I’m simultaneously getting a tan, BUT I have even more days when I’m exhausted and it’s the last thing I want to do after a long day of work. But I force myself to do it anyway, because I know I’ll be happy I did. One of the coolest things about running is that no matter how much you don’t want to go on that run, you always feel awesome afterwards.
Fitting in time to run with in an infant wasn’t exactly easy, but I made it a priority. It involved early mornings, less “napping while he’s napping”, and a pretty amazing husband. And like I said, I wasn’t shooting for any time goals here, I just wanted to finish. So my mileage wasn’t super high; it was merely enough. But let me tell you, compared to every other race I’ve run, the one this May, when I got to see my son cheering me on with my husband and family, was the greatest of all of my races. So to all of you working moms who want to lose the baby weight and want to get in shape (but it’s not easy because you’re just a normal person with normal genes like me), I think that training for ANY race, a 10K or a half marathon or a full marathon, is the best thing you can do for yourself mentally and physically. You know that being a mom is the most demanding thing you’ve ever done, and to be the best at it, you need to be your best self. Challenge yourself to train for a race, and I guarantee you won’t regret it. Look for a future post about how to train for a marathon (realistically!) as a working mom, but for now, here are some tips to get started!
1. Start TODAY! Right now you are motivated. Right now you are feeling positive about this whole “running thing.” So start now. You have an old pair of sneakers you can run a mile in. So go do it! Then come home and figure out when you can fit in a run tomorrow, and maybe go shoe shopping :).
2. Plan your runs a week at time. You are a mom, and your schedule changes all of the time. Saying, “I’m going to run every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday” doesn’t work because next week your kid might have go to the doctor and you have to go to the dentist and so on forever! So think about your schedule a week at time, because there’s nothing worse than knowing you had a run planned and not getting to it. Only schedule a run for a day you realistically know you can fit it in.
3. Never go two days in a row without a run. I (mostly) never run on Fridays because my husband and I eat takeout, I’m exhausted from the week, and it’s just my favorite rest day. Because of this, I always fit in a workout on Thursday and Saturday, because if I take more than one day off in a row, it messes with my head. Working out is just as much for your mental health as it is for your physical health, and I know when I take too many days off, I get a little depressed. Taking rest days is good! But never two in a row.
4. Don’t be afraid of early mornings. Mom guilt is real, and marathon training involves one long run every week. Luckily my husband was available to wake up with our son on Saturday mornings when I did my long runs, but honestly, when I knew Dax was awake and I was out running all over the neighborhood, I felt guilty. I felt like I should be home spending time with him. So, I started my runs early, REALLY early… sometimes 4AM. And yes, it’s hard to wake up at 4AM, but I felt sooooo good when I got home and he was still asleep and I didn’t miss a thing!
5. The treadmill is your friend. Running on the road is way more enjoyable for me, and I know most runners feel the same way. But sometimes my husband is working or busy and my son is napping and I can’t leave the house… so how do I fit in a run? The treadmill. We bought one off of Craigslist for 300 bucks, so don’t go spending thousands to get some top of the line treadmill unless you have the money. Ours is great and has never had any issues. It’s in the basement so I go down there when my son is asleep and watch Food Network on my ipad. I’m slower on the treadmill, but as long as I get the miles in, it’s all good.
6. Take advantage of people who want to help! My mom will call sometimes and see if I want her to come over for an hour to watch Dax so I can have a break. Break? You mean, you want to watch my kid so I can sneak away for a twenty-five minute run? Sure! If not, use a jogging stroller. I don’t know about you, but my son loves going on walks, and loves it even more when they’re really fast “walks”.
I know that fitting in the time is difficult, but when you cross that finish line, you will be so proud of yourself, and the pictures with your kids along the way are going to be well worth it. What are you waiting for? Go for a run!