Let me start with this: I’m not a runner. I never ran that mile in gym class. My soccer coaches had to chase me to get me around the field. I always viewed running as some sort of punishment. I was fully convinced there was a defect in my body that prohibited running. I couldn’t breathe while I ran. I loved the gym, elliptical, weights, stair stepper. I even played soccer for nearly a dozen years. Just.don’t.make.me.run.
Mama Ran a Marathon
In 2012 I suffered a pregnancy loss. We had seen the heartbeat. Had prenatal checkups. I even started working on my baby registry. When I found out the baby had died and ended up hospitalized myself after immense blood loss, I was so angry. My body couldn’t do something so natural. Something everyone else made look so effortless. I figured if my body couldn’t support a pregnancy, I would make it do something really difficult. I’d start running.
What started as some form of misguided self-punishment turned into therapy. Even after my body did what I wanted more than anything, and my family was blessed with two boys in two years, I knew what running could do for me. It gets me outside, it’s my “me time,” and I feel so much healthier when I’m moving.
In 2015, I decided I’d run a marathon. I can’t tell you why I ever decided to try and run 26.2 miles. I still feel like a fraud with nice sneakers and a jogging stroller. But I posted my intention on Facebook and was committed. I ran the Detroit Marathon in 2016. My goal was to finish the race in under 4 hours. While I missed my goal by two seconds (don’t get me started), I am now a marathon runner. Maybe even a “runner”.
For anyone new to running or trying to figure out how to maintain a training plan with kids, here’s my advice:
Find your village. Find other parents who will show up and run, jog or power walk with you. It made all the difference in the world when I was just starting to run after having my second kid. I made friendships I still cherish, even though we rarely get to run together now. People who appreciate just how hard it is to get out the door with a stroller, 4782 snacks, and hopefully the kids.
Find a training plan you can stick to. I ran four days a week when training for my race. Three weekday runs with the stroller and a long run on the weekend by myself.
Invest in a good stroller. Facebook Market Place is great for these. A good jogging stroller makes all the difference in the world. They tend to hold up well and a second hand one will save some money and likely still work great.
Plan your routes. For runs longer than 5 miles I’d make sure we could get a park stop in about half way. My boys could get out and play, snack and stretch. I’d have a good water break and we’d have no choice but to finish the run to get home. I also know which neighborhoods have trash day when, my oldest son loves stalking the garbage trucks. We also had a few routes by fire stations, hoping to see the trucks driving in and out.
Maximize nap time. I did most of my morning runs during my youngest son’s morning nap. My older son would snack and we’d chat while baby snoozed.
Forgive yourself when it just doesn’t go as planned. Some weeks kids get sick. Or the weather is garbage. I built in an extra two weeks in my training plan to account for the hiccups. Jump back in when you can and keep going.
Nothing is easy when kids are involved. Running, however, is worth it for me. And I deserve the chance to exercise and appreciate everything my body can do. We all do.