Last week was one of my favorite weekends in Cleveland: Cleveland Marathon race weekend. I was a race ambassador and completed the half marathon/8k challenge series. I ran my first half marathon 10 years ago, and haven’t stopped since — even with kids! While life has gotten crazier and my free time is not as free these days, running is part of me and I can’t imagine my life without it.
So how have I kept it up? How have I kept running while tending to an almost-1-year-old and almost-3-year-old? If you’re looking to train for a race with kids, here are some tips:
Be flexible with your training: There are some training programs that require you to run a specific amount each day and in a certain order. I know that I couldn’t do that, so I stuck to Hal Higdon’s plan and got in nearly every run during a week. Did I do every long run on Saturdays? Did I always do speed training on Tuesday? No. The flexible training gave me the freedom to move rest days if needed (for example, if baby was up all night) and still feel like I had a successful week. Also, please note that I did a half marathon. The training for this is much more manageable than a full marathon, which would’ve taken up much more time.
Get the kids involved: I am in LOVE with my Bob running stroller and use it as much as I can. If I have an easy run on the schedule, I’ll try to bring one of my kids with me. While I can’t personally do a two hour training run with a jogging stroller, it’s fun to take my son out on a shake-out run and have some quality time with him. After the race, my kids LOVE playing with and wearing my medals. Oh, and the bananas and chocolate milk at the finish line are a hit, as well.
Run when the kids aren’t around: I can’t do all my runs with kids, and I enjoy running by myself. It’s my ME time. But, thanks to #momguilt, I can’t do all my runs when the kids are awake, at home, etc. This training cycle, I did all my long runs (minus one race) before the kids woke up. Yes, this meant waking up at 4-4:30 a.m. before work some days. But, it was a great feeling to come home from a run and stretch while everyone in my house was still asleep. For some people, running at lunchtime when the kids are at daycare may work the best.
Find other mother runners: Find parents who are also looking to run around their kids’ schedules. Your ideal times may not always meet up, but it can be great to have a running buddy who knows what you’re going through. I am so lucky that some of my fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors were also working, running moms in all stages of motherhood – from those with newborns, to those with babies on the way and those with kids all grown up.
Go easy on yourself: This training cycle, I told myself that I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I didn’t get in every single run on the schedule. I told myself that it wasn’t about a PR, but instead, about running a half marathon after baby #2 and having fun. For me, this made all the difference and made getting in my runs more enjoyable and less of a chore.
However you do, however your race goes — be proud. Training for any race is not easy. With kids, while nursing, taking them to activities, getting little sleep, etc. it’s even harder. You’re amazing!