Towards the end of 2013, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself!
I had spent a good portion of the summer getting into the best shape I had ever been in (take that High School self!), and shaving down my running time (relatively speaking). I was gearing up to run through the winter, and was prepared to handle all the cold/snow/ice that comes with it, when we found out I was pregnant with baby #2!
Similar to my first pregnancy, I planned to run for as long as I could through this one. Even if it meant belly bands and plotting courses around bathroom locations, I was determined! I kept running right into the third trimester, and with a few minor adjustments (more water, shorter stride, flatter surfaces so I didn’t trip/topple over) I felt as if I could keep moving up until D-day.
Fast forward to August, when our baby boy is born. I had taken a few weeks off to recover from the delivery, and then I tried to get back into it.
But, as a mom, finding the time to take an hour to do anything by yourself is not easy. I also felt like I had about a hundred things to do during the week, and the only running I could fit into my schedule was running to get the boys from daycare, or running after our 4 year old. I needed a push to get back into my old running routine.
That push came when I joined a 2-person relay team for the Vermont City Marathon. Now I was committed to running 13.1 miles at the end of May, and if I didn’t want to be carried across the finish line, I had to get more creative in finding ways to run during the week.
In no way do I consider myself a running expert of any kind, but I’d like to share some of the things that worked well for me as I attempted to fit running time into my busy schedule.
I really like when I can get a run over with early in the day, because the more I put it off, the less likely it is that it will happen. I can leave the house around 5:15 am, and be back in time for my husband to leave for work, and sometimes before the boys wake up. If you are cringing at the thought of physical activity before 7am, hear me out. Even as a morning person, this requires some mental preparation the night before. Sometimes I sleep in my running clothes so I can just roll out of bed, throw my shoes on and go. There have been times I’ve gotten half way through my run before I thought, “hey, look at me, I’m running” because I am still waking up and it feels like my body is in autopilot. Pro-you don’t have to think (or dread) about it the rest of the day!
While Dinner Cooks
If early mornings are a definite “no” for you, this may suit you better. After work, I can usually get the kids from daycare and make it home about the same time as my husband. This gives me a chance to change out of my work clothes and prep dinner. When it’s in the oven or on the grill, I head out for a run, leaving my husband to keep an eye on the food and kids. This can sometimes be a pretty hectic time in our house with everyone getting home, and I tend to do shorter runs here. Pro-there’ll be food at the end of the run!
Invest in a jogging stroller
We’ve gotten a ton of use out of our jogging stroller, whether I’m running or just walking around town. Running with a jogging stroller really isn’t that bad, and if this is the only way to get in the miles (as it is for me many days), you get used to it. Baby too! I like to believe this also serves as strength training, as you have to propel an additional 20+ lbs forward. Hills may seem a bit more challenging, but keep in mind how much easier it’ll be the next time, sans stroller! Pro-baby is getting fresh air, and more than likely, a nap!
Find a Running Buddy
And break out the jogging stroller! This spring I was really fortunate to meet another mom who loves to run, and has two boys nearly the same age as mine. We worked out a time once a week to meet and run with our strollers, and it really helped motivate me to get out and run further than I would’ve by myself. Pros-mommy time AND baby play date. Win, win.
Include Older Kids
There have been days where it was near impossible to break free from my 4 yo son. Plus, the kid has so much energy that the more I can exercise with him, the better our day will go. So, he will get on his bike and we head out to do a loop that is a mile or so. Then, I leave him back at home and continue on my run. I look forward to the days when he can really run with me, but for now this burns off some of his energy. Pro-he is learning early on the importance of exercise and incorporating it into our daily lives.
I completely understand what it feels like to have little energy left to exercise, or to feel like the stars have to align to find an hour or more to break away and get in some me-time. There are days when I need to be extra creative, and/or rely on the support of my spouse and other family members, to be able to train. But, it is so worth making the effort to do what you love and to set goals that motivate you.