A Busy Parent’s Guide to Start a Running Routine

A Busy Parent’s Guide to Start a Running Routine

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“I walk a LOT, but have always wanted to get started running. I just don’t know how.”

“I got really in shape with my Peloton this winter, but can’t run a mile to save my life. How is that possible?”

“I used to run, but then I got pregnant and had kids. Life is crazy now, but I’d love to get back into running.”

Do any of those sound like you? As someone who runs regularly, I can’t imagine life without running. It’s my me time, my time away from my family, my bonding time with my kids (if I take out the stroller), and where some of my best thinking gets done. I’ve run countless half marathons, 5Ks and 10Ks, I’m an ambassador for the Cleveland Marathon (use code MELCCLESAVE10 for 10% off registration!), and while I’m not speedy, I can’t imagine my life today without running. But I haven’t always run, and I do remember how hard it was to get started. If you’re hoping to get started with running, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Make sure you have the right gear.

I don’t recommend just putting on any old pair of sweatpants/shorts, a cotton t-shirt and your old sneakers to go out for a run. I’m not saying you have to spend a ton of money, but the wrong clothes and shoes can be a recipe for disaster (a.k.a chafing and/or injury). If you’re getting started running, you’ll want to buy some quality clothes (look for sweat-wicking material) and sneakers that are fitted for your body. Believe it or not, not all feet are the same, and you should go to a running store to get fitted for the right kind for you. Now that I write this, I realize that “the right gear” could be a post on its own, because I have so many other things in mind, too. (Stay tuned — that’s probably the next post!)

Walk, then run.

You have your clothes — now you’re ready! Depending on your experience, you may need to start slow and small. Start by dedicating 2 to 3x a week for running, 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Don’t be discouraged if you are unable to run the entire time. Set reasonable goals for yourself. For example, you can start with running intervals of walk 1 minute + run 1 minute, and move to walk 1 minute + run 5 minutes. Or you can choose landmarks — run to the end of your block. Then walk the next block. Then run to the fire hydrant, etc. Or run for one song, walk the next song. Find what works for you, and before you know it, you’ll be running for longer periods of time. The Couch to 5K program is a popular program that does just this — here is a link to print out a version that shows you when to walk and when to run, based on the time. 

Record your runs.

After you finish a run, write down what you did and how you felt. This can help keep you motivated and will help you see your progress. If you have a running watch, you can use its app to do this. If not, you can use an app like Map My Run to measure how far you went during or even after your run. I also find it helpful to have a written (or digital) calendar to keep track of my runs and to be able to look at them as a whole.

Make a goal.

Set a goal for yourself — and write it down. Some ideas:

  • Run 1 mile without stopping
  • Run 1 mile in under X minutes
  • Participate (run/walk if needed) in a 5K race

Make time.

One of the hardest things about running when you’re a parent is finding the time. I had no idea how much free time I had until it was gone! And unfortunately, this one is all you. You need to make time for running. For a while, I would feel guilty when going for a run, especially if my kids were awake. But I know that despite the #momguilt, I need to make time for me, which helps me be a better mom. While most days I go running when the kids are sleeping, sometimes I’ll go running when they’re eating breakfast or hanging out with my husband. Or if I have the kids to myself, I’ll get in a stroller run. Or I’ll get on the treadmill and keep an eye on them in the same room. I know a mom who uses her son’s soccer practice to go for runs around the field. Some of my friends have made naptime their run time. Try a few different things, and find what works for you. And don’t forget, you’re setting a good example.

About the author

Melissa Koski Carney (known as @koskim on social media) is an Ohio transplant from New York. A 30-something mom of three, she recently moved with her family from their downtown apartment to a nearly 100-year-old home in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She works full-time as a marketing communications professional. When she’s not working, blogging, or chasing after her three kids (all ages 5 and under), she enjoys running, baking and reading; as well as hanging out with the other women she has met through her Ladies Craft Beer Society. She blogs regularly at I Crashed The Web.

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