I’d be lying if I said that my running habit is the same as it was pre-baby. (And let’s be honest, the mamas out there would roll their eyes and never believe another word I write if I said that.) This post isn’t even going to go into the physical aspect of running post-baby (I’ll save that for another time). But over the past six months I have learned a few tricks to make running “work” with a new kiddo.
Runners are creatures of habit. We run our same routes over and over, stick to our training styles and hate having our routines disrupted. But those routines can be upended by a few things: work, family schedules, illness, injury, pregnancy.
If we’re being honest, many of us would admit we ask ourselves how any of those changes will impact our running. Including me. Two months ago, I was that person. Only this time, it was two of those factors: returning to running post-injury while pregnant.
The phrase “mother runner” often conjures up an image of a woman with a ponytail pushing a stroller. The struggles (and joys!) of running while also mothering a baby or a toddler can be intense and are frequent topics of discussion at Salty Running and in the running-while-mothering world more generally. But those children don’t stay little forever, as relatives at every holiday gathering will surely remind us. What happens when the little ones are no longer quite so little, and mom is still running?
I’ve been running for almost 10 years now. The best 10 years of my life, if you ask me.
Ten years of crazy, if you asked my family.
I lost count of the number of times my dad shook his head when someone asked me how far my next marathon was. Luckily, no one thought I’d ruin my knees, but almost everyone didn’t understand, or refused to understand, what kept me waking up early day after day, rain or shine, to run. At best it was a healthy habit gone too far. At worst it was symbolic of a chemical disruption in my brain.
In fairness, it is likely both.
As the temperatures continue to drop, here are my favorite things of 2017 that I recommend every mom (or dad) running with young kids bring with them to 2018.
First, my triple running stroller still remains one of the best, all-time favorite things I’ve bought. Worth every single penny. Not only did it keep me sane during my husband’s deployment, it adds a lot of flexibility to my running and schedule as an married, yet often single mom. I love it so much, I even wrote it a song!
Ode to my triple running stroller, sung to the tune of Jingle Bells:
Pushing three kids was hard
Especially going uphill
But I didn’t want to be a lard
Because of desserts I eat my fill
Sometimes I ran inside
Instead of pushing the triple-wide
And then I could run faster
But the treadmill became my master
(chorus, sung twice)
Oh, triple stroller triple stroller
You really did save me
Because without you I would have gone
I pack water bottles and treats
And put the kids in their seat
No matter what the weather
We run in the cold or heat
An essential piece of gear
For all my running this year
And I’d just like to thank you
Even now with winter here
(chorus, sung twice)
Oh, triple stroller triple stroller
You really did save me
Because without you I would have gone
Next, to go along with stroller running in the winter, I’d like to recommend two of my favorite pieces of essential gear.
For baby, I recommend the Patagonia reversible puff-ball bunting. It’s a good way to keep baby nice and cozy without overheating. It’s wind and water resistant, and has hand and foot coverings since we all know how easy it is to keep mittens/shoes on little ones. It’s lightweight and so comfortable I wish they made it in adult sizes. I purposefully bought one in a larger size so all of my kids have been able to wear it through two winters — one as a bunting, and one without the hands/feet covered, more like a snowsuit.
Finally, for the runner, I recommend the Brooks Threshold Glove. Having lived in New York and Colorado, I’ve tried a lot of different running gloves. None ever seemed to really do the trick, and I still always had to tuck my hands in my sleeves, which is hard to do while pushing a stroller. These work. Two gloves in one, they have a normal stretchy glove that is warm but doesn’t make you sweat layer, and then a mitten shell that goes on top. These gloves are perfect for blocking the wind while my hands are on the stroller handlebar. I even wear them running solo. If my hands get too warm, I pull back the mitten layer which is light enough I don’t even feel it flapping around.
What are your running “must-haves” that you are bringing with you to 2018?
Dear Saltines and Salty readers,
Life as a mom – it’s amazing, different, hard, exhausting, and wonderful.
How can it be all those things at once? I haven’t figured that one out yet, but it really is. I am writing this post as my son snoozes away during one of his very few catnaps during the day while I sip my 4-time reheated coffee I made earlier this morning. Finding time to myself is not easy these days. It’s something I have truly struggled with since my first day home from the hospital. My husband encouraged me to MAKE time. How do you make time? There are dishes to do, floors to be swept, errands to run, baby to entertain, feed, change, bathe, dog to walk, meals to be cooked, and now I need to make time for me too?
Not to mention I work three days of the week, and I leave the house at 6am those days only to get home at 8:15pm or later.
This past weekend, I ran a half marathon. Well, I tried to run one. Let me start from the beginning.
After having William, I set a soft goal for myself to run a few half marathons throughout the fall and try to get my time low enough to qualify for the NYC Marathon next year. I didn’t tell a lot of people about it, because I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. You see, I am on a bit of a time-crunch here. If all goes as planned (which, as we all know, it rarely does…), I hope to start trying for baby #2 sometime late next year, so that means I have about one year left to run a marathon of my choosing. The clock is ticking.
I began training in September, when I ran the River Run Half Marathon in 1:41. I was pleased with my time, though it was a solid 11 minutes short of my PR, because it was my longest run post-baby and I felt pretty good the whole time!
Fast-forward to the beginning of October, when I ran a 1:38 at the Towpath Marathon. I was semi-happy with this time, though I felt like my motivation in the middle of the race was lacking. I think I was having a hard time because I realized how much effort I was putting forth to run a half marathon time that was still about 8 minutes short of my PR. Again, I know I had just had a baby 3.5 months prior, but it still was very mentally challenging for me to get past it.
Last, I just ran a new half marathon I had never ran before called the Buckeye Half Marathon in Peninsula, Ohio. It was a relatively flat course on a cool damp day. My time? 1:44. What the heck happened?
It’s all about attitude. I went into this race feeling pretty crappy about my running. Since the beginning of October, I hadn’t ran over 7 or 8 miles. I hadn’t ran more than 1 or 2 speed workouts. I hadn’t put in the time. Remember when I talked about finding the time to do things for myself? Yep, that’s a punch to the gut. Attitude truly is everything. I was so angry about my lack of effort, I think I spent more time thinking about how I should be running or doing a workout or core work, than actually finding a way to do it. Instead of training, I had chosen to do laundry or dust the house or watching my son roll over during belly time (obvs the better choice, anyway!). I ran the first 10 miles between 7:20-7:40 pace (no, not NYC qualifying pace but a respectable pace, right?). Then I hit mile 11 and bombed it. I started to walk. I felt as if I was crawling. Everyone I had passed during the race was passing me back. I was angry, sad, and disappointed all at once. I told myself to stop being a baby and encourage everyone passing me by instead, which I did. But I still was so broken hearted those last 20-something minutes.
This is where I hope you guys can come into play. How do you do it? How do you find the energy? How do you find balance? Whether you’re a mom or not doesn’t matter, I need to know. I am in such at rut. I’m semi-embarrassed by my lack of understanding of how to do it all. I want to spend time with my son, get everything done, be an awesome nurse, and reach my goals in running. But how? Is there an algorithm to follow that helps you fit it all in?
I still want to run a solid marathon next year, but I can’t decide on one, especially since I don’t think I’ll be able to qualify for NYC by the end of this year (sad face!). Any recommendations? Do you guys think I can still run a respectable time?
I need your help, your encouragement and your advice, Saltines and Salty readers!
A heavy-hearted runner momma
Since the birth of my son on June 19th, my life has changed more than I can place into words and with all that change, I’m in the process of adapting. My body feels different, my mindset is geared towards protecting my son and raising him the best I can, and my psyche is still figuring out who I am as a runner and a person.
Who am I? Well, I’m Turmeric of course. But I’m not the same Turmeric who woke up early on the weekends, drank a cup of coffee and ate a snack, picked out some cute running clothes and got her long run nutrition ready. I don’t meander off through my neighborhood for miles and miles without a care in the world. I don’t come home, shower, put on some more cute clothes, perfect my hairstyle, eat brunch only to be whisked away into the day by my husband for more carefree fun like I used to. Now I sleep when I can, shovel in my food with one hand, sneak in five minute showers, and I can’t remember the last time my hair looked good. Read more >>
A few weeks after I started running again after giving birth to my daughter, a few people I know shared this video by a vlogger named Tova Leigh. The TL;DW version is that women are under ridiculous pressure to get their pre-baby body back within an instant of giving birth. I never heard of her before, but after browsing her posts I really liked her style. She’s a no-nonsense straight shooter about things and that appealed to me.
After a little while, though, this particular video about bouncing back got me thinking. While I generally liked the message, it didn’t sit completely right to me. It was like a pair of running shorts that fit great, made my butt look good, but sat a hair too short on my hips and caused some chafing. Read more >>
I knew well before getting pregnant that I’d surely be confronted with mom-shaming, mommy wars, and unsolicited advice after I became a mother. Even making the decision to (or not to) have kids comes with a good amount of judgement. I don’t have the thickest skin in the world, but most of the time I’m pretty good at letting things roll off my shoulder. I felt somewhat prepared for this kind of stuff when we found out we were expecting, but I also knew that being an unmarried couple, having a child, and also being an athlete would open me up to some extra judgment and pressure.
Even so, I was surprised by the judgment about my decisions to run or not run in pregnancy and after.
Hey friends! I am back, but in a completely different form. My son, William Carl, was born Monday, June 19th, and life has been a whirlwind ever since. After twenty-six point two hours of labor he was lying in my arms and I became a mother.
My body has thrown me a few curve balls over the past few years. As a runner, I feel like I’m quite in tune with my body, almost to a point where I notice when the smallest thing is off. You know like the hangriness creep that starts after eating lunch a mere 30 minutes later than usual.
A few months ago, I knew something wasn’t right. Sure, I had some vague symptoms when I wasn’t running, but it was my running that really tipped me off that something in my body was amiss. In my case, it turned out to be my progesterone levels. Read more >>
It doesn’t feel this way during those years, but when our kids are babies running is easy. You can put them in a stroller and go. When they go to school running is easy because, well, they’re in school! Before they’re old enough to stay home alone for an hour, finding time to run when school-aged kids are home for the summer can be quite a challenge. The good news is that it’s not impossible.
“Free to a good home,” I typed on my Facebook home page. “One BOB running stroller. Well-loved.” I sniffled a little as I thought about that BOB, and the miles my girls and I had put in it together. Although I spent a lot of time excited for the days I could run without it, now I’d do anything for my kids to be small enough for just one more lap around the block with the BOB.
With new babies from Tea, Barley and me and Turmeric about to join us, it seems like there’s a Salty baby boom going on! For those pregnant, it’s both an exciting and an unnerving time. All first time moms wonder how their lives are going to change with the arrival of a baby, but most don’t think too much about how their athletic lives will change. But it’s different for us runners. Now a seasoned mother of three, I’d like to share what I lost and gained in running after becoming a mom. Read more >>
Returning to running after baby can be tricky. In an earlier post, I wrote about my experience with an injury while marathon training a few months after I gave birth to my second child. That injury taught me a lot of things, and was quite frankly the slap in the face that I needed if I was going to take my running more seriously. One of the most important lessons I learned from the injury was that recovery is just as important as running. Your body needs a break and time to repair itself. If you want your body to work with you, you need to treat it right.
Here is a bit more more about the lessons I learned and the practices I apply to my recovery and running strategies today!
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