5 Realistic Tips to Get Back to Running as a Mom
I think every mother can relate when I say that having children will change your world. Having a child is one of the most amazing and wonderful experiences, but life as we know it changes dramatically. Our routines and habits suddenly revolve around a precious tiny human that needs your attention. The patterns and routines we have established our entire lives become disrupted. This is also true of our running routine, but as a mother it is vital to take time for yourself and running is a great outlet to do so. It not only helps our bodies get back to normal after everything they have been through but is also highly therapeutic. I find that when I run it is a way to clear my mind, breathe in fresh air, and an opportunity to hit the pause button on life.
When I found out I was having my first child my running came to a sudden halt and has taken almost five years to get back on track. Through a series of injuries and complicated pregnancies that did not allow me to train, I can finally say I am settling into a new running routine and wanted to share a few of my tips for training as a mom. I hope you find them helpful and motivating to get back to doing what you love.
Schedule your run: We all know how difficult it is to plan around work, the schedule of your kids and spouse, meal prep, house cleaning, and all the other tasks in our lives that may get in the way of running. Schedule your training and communicate your needs well in advance in order to know who will be caring for the kids so that you can take a bit of time for yourself. This way everyone is on the same page, and there are no surprises or conflicts.
Run before the sun: This one can be a bit tricky because we all know that a child’s sleep pattern can be a bit unpredictable. Especially early on with waking every couple of hours to feed, but try waking up before the rest of the house to get an early run in. This is a great way to make time for yourself without having to disrupt anyone’s schedule. I am not always motivated to wake up early especially as we head into the cooler months, and I do tend to hit the snooze button, but I am always so thankful when I take some time for myself before meeting the day head on.
As much as I am a solitary runner, I do enjoy running with a group in those early morning hours. It not only motivates me to get out of bed knowing that someone is counting on me, but there is also a peace of mind knowing that we are traveling in numbers. Reach out to some other moms in your area or social groups and see if they would like to meet up.
Invest in a Treadmill: Consider setting up a spot in your home or garage that you can get away to even if the schedule or childcare does not fall into place. I have a spot in my garage dedicated to running while the kids are napping. At one point I had three children under three and would set up all three baby monitors in front of the treadmill, turn on my jams and log a few miles. Clearly not most people’s preference, but life can throw a curve ball at us with scheduling conflicts, sick children, losing sleep at night, inclement weather, or smoke and this is a great way to work around the unexpected. I found that running on a treadmill can be discouraging, and boring so I work around that by putting motivational items on the wall in front of me. Inspirational sayings, goals, prayers, photos of my family, anything to cause a distraction from the monotony of the treadmill. Also, throw a towel over the data on the treadmill rather than watching each mile tick by.
Take the family with you: At my first baby shower I was gifted a hand me down running stroller that I was only able to use one time since after my first run back I found out I was pregnant again- this time with a daughter. Shortly after giving birth to her, of course came number three, so pushing several children in a jog stroller quickly became unrealistic for my circumstances. However, I speak with women on a regular basis that have great success running with their children in the stroller and report that their child enjoys it too. They claim that it is a complete body workout, plus some quality time with your little one. I have observed that most of them will bring along some form of entertainment and a snack for their kiddo.
I have also found that making a family event of the run can be a great weekend option. Take the family to a spot like a park or a field where your spouse can stay back and play with the kids while you run, and if your spouse is a runner, you can take turns. I love this option because it allows me to take time away and accomplish my goal, while still observing from a far. Be sure to pack extra hydration and snacks for the whole family as well as sunblock and/or jackets. Our favorite spot is the Sparks Marina, the whole family loves it!
Offer yourself some grace: In my opinion my last tip is most important. I am confident that I am not the only mother out there that thinks she can be super mom. Caring for and making sure your family is happy and healthy, while keeping a household running and making time for yourself is a full-time job, on top of work and other obligations that may take priority. Be practical with your goals and expectations. Offer yourself some grace. I know I expected to jump right back into the running routine I had prior to children, but my body decided otherwise and so did my schedule. I was forced to shift my mindset. My goal quickly shifted from running my next half marathon to running 3-4 times a week for a half hour. Currently for me, this is a realistic goal, and I must be ok with that. I run for time instead of distance knowing that there are babies waiting for me. These goals will evolve as the kids grow and I find more time to dedicate to the sport I love, but today this is what my body and time are capable of and for that I am thankful.
I challenge all running moms to implement one or two of these tips into your life and find a way to take some much-deserved time for yourself.