Making it Work


I am not the most athletic person. I do agree that my past posts on this blog would dispute this, and you may be muttering words like hypocrite and liar. But let me explain. I participated in sports in junior high and then turned into a drama geek in high school. I walked everywhere in college but only due to necessity. If you offered me a ride, even for a couple of blocks, I would gladly accept it.

Then I had kids.

When the 8 year old was a baby I still only walked places out of necessity. I occasionally tagged along on hikes with my husband but I didn’t enjoy it. Then the 5 year old was born. The novelty of children wore off and my need to chisel out a part of my stay at home mama life became something I needed in order to breathe and recharge. Our budget wouldn’t support my shopping and coffee shop habit. My body wasn’t shrinking back to its pre-baby size the way it had with the first rug rat. So I started running. I did the couch to 5k program and the rest, as they say, is history.

Running quickly became something I utilized to deal with my life. When my kiddos drove me crazy I went for a run. When my grandmother died I went for a run. When I wanted to hang out with my friends I went for a run. The 1st mile was always painful and then the next few would fade away.  I’d process and return happy and sweaty and ready to take on whatever was coming next.

I have never thought of myself as a runner and still don’t.  I just run so that I don’t kill people. Its really a crime prevention program.

My preferred running method is alone plugged in to bad pop music. Secondarily, gossiping and chatting with a friend. However Life being Life… finding time to run is always tricky. My main goal is always sanity and to fit it in wherever I can.

So I want to share with you how I fit it in. I’ll tell you how I do it but you have to promise not to judge or think I’m bragging. I need other people to know these are options. That it’s not always pretty and it’s not always perfect but 20 minutes of running works. So consider these tricks of the trade exchange.

I’ll show you mine, you show me yours.

In the beginning: If I wanted to run during the day, I had a few options. 1) Put the kids into the drop off daycare at the gym while I ran a loop or two outside, downtown 2) At home, put one kid in the pack-n-play, and one plugged into the laptop I could run on my treadmill (aka the dreadmill). 3) Many times I bundled everyone up, bagged some snacks and ran outside with the jogger. If you turn the music up loud enough you can’t hear them screaming.

boys in jogger
Bundling them up got me as sweaty as the run.

In the middle: Once the older kid learned to ride a bike my jogger load got lighter (in theory). And now I could only run with one ear bud in while I’d yell out things like “driveway, okay slow down, car, driveway, both hands on the handle bars!”. Turns out he can ride fast too. So I’m pushing one child who seems to weigh the same as two AND running faster to keep up with the kid on his bike. It was not necessarily peaceful and relaxing but I get sweaty and happy and the older one normally slept great that night.

“helping me run”

The Now: They both can ride bikes on their own and the jogger has a flat tire. I have one whole day a week that they are in school and I’m not at work so I can normally squeeze something in. But some days I need the RUN. The world needs me to run. My lack of a prison record needs me to run… so I figure it out. Recently I had one of those days. I picked up the boys straight from work. I suggested that I change and then we’d have a run/ride for 30 minutes. There may have been a well-placed extra video game time allowance mentioned.

The older one was excited to play 30 minutes of Minecraft  ride his bike but the younger one wasn’t having it. After much debate and negotiation we compromised. I would run they would ride to the park. There they would play with soccer balls and stomp rockets while I ran laps. As I plugged in to my iPod and ran around the field I felt pretty smug about my ability to make it work. The boys were playing, I was running, and we were all getting fresh air. It was a win win.

I still don’t think I’m a runner or athletic, it’s just something I make work. I’m a Mother and I run. Mothers make it work. It might not be pretty and it might be hard but we make it work.

How do you make it work? Have you ever found a slick trick you’d like to share? I’m still learning and growing here even as the boys are getting older. I can use all the help I can get. Can’t we all?



  1. I like hearing your voice through your writing, Rachel, and this post is inspirational. Sadly, your workouts are often longer than mine. Some of my 10-minute-make-it-work moments look like: doing windsprints with my children back and forth in our yard (the uneven surface felt like serious agility work), dropping to do burpees to make the 9-month old laugh, crawling around my house with the 5-year-old on my back (engage your core! engage your core!), or doing squats with him on my shoulders (this one was exciting because he knew I might drop him any second). Finally, there’s always the dance-party workout. Music volume goes up, window shades go down.

    Some people must think I work out a lot because I’m so often in exercise clothes, but he truth is that I never know when I might make ten minutes work! Thanks for making me feel less crazy.

  2. hey great post rachel! i too am a runner and need it for my sanity. i’ve been learning to accept short quick runs are sometimes just as good as long ones. this is all i can fit in right now with the time change, morning schedules, and general family crazies..but its working for me.
    oh and also–if you’re interested i go to a yoga class at green mountain running and rehab called yoga for runners. its a nice way to “cross train”…something i loathe. but the yoga fitness part is nice, and i get to sit in peace in the dark for an hour without interruptions.

  3. It’s SO hard to figure out how to make it work, but once you do it’s great. My best purchase was a treadmill (which I actually enjoy very much, most people don’t. I’m weird). Everyone in my house knows that when mommy gets home from work Tuesdays & Thursdays she runs. I run to get the crazy out too. I find the days the it’s the hardest to get running are the days I have my best runs. To make it easier when my husband isn’t home, I set the treadmill up in the middle of my kids play area. I blast really cheesy music, they play & dance. It’s a win, win.

  4. I seriously love this post Rachel! So funny but the truths there are important too. I’m struggling to figure out how to make it all work but know that I need to. Thanks for the bit of inspiration!

  5. I told my husband 5 weeks into having our baby that I was a better mother when I got to run… even though that first run was a bit of a disaster and consisted of 1 minute run/1 minute walk for all of 10 minutes. Luckily with just one 6-month old, the jogging stroller is still an easy option. But I often opt for the trails and use my dog as an excuse (I’m a better mother and he’s a better dog if we both get to run!). Thanks for some advice on the horizon of how to juggle getting in that run! It is always worth it to try to get out and get it done! One way I sneak it in is during lunch time at work.

  6. I’m currently on the wake up at 4:30 AM, pump, hit the gym for an hour when it opens, home by 6:45 to see my husband off to work, and pray my 6 mo old doesn’t notice my absence.
    i long to be able to practice Bikram yoga on a regular basis again, but for now it doesn’t . “Making it work” has taught me some good lessons in compromise, acceptance of change/what is present, and letting go.


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