To earbud or not to earbud? That is the question.

To be honest, for me, it is not a question. I never run with earbuds. But so many do! Here are my thoughts, and I’m curious what you think, too.

Why I actively avoid wearing earbuds while running


This is probably not my primary reason, but maybe it should be! How do those of you with earbuds hear approaching cars, trains, bikers, other runners, etc.? I like to know what’s coming and prefer to continue my streak of never being hit by a car. There are plenty of articles that focus on why it’s safer to listen to your surroundings while running than closing off your hearing with music or a podcast.

high school female in white and blue marching band attire, standing on a podium in front of a field, with an audience in the stands in the background, cheerleaders sitting on a bench in the foreground
Drum major of the marching band

Keeping the beat

This is cheesy, but listening to music is an interactive activity for me. Maybe blame my stint in high school marching band, but I must keep the beat, when I hear one. When I first tried running, I downloaded several workout tracks that maintained specific bpm (beats per minute) throughout. And let me tell you – there is perhaps no greater pleasure than running to the beat of a continuous pump up song. However, every time I encountered a hill or got tired or just wanted to vary my pace a bit, the music threw me off. That frustrated me, and made me feel slow or incapable of keeping up. So, no more music while running for me!

What did they say?

I’m not hard of hearing. Ask my mom, the audiologist. However, I may have selective hearing. Ask my husband…

And it drives me bonkers when I can’t hear a portion of what’s being said, especially when I’m expected to respond. For that reason, listening to podcasts or talking on the phone while I run are strictly off limits. They don’t keep me entertained and they bother me more than help me run.

Why I actually love keeping my ears open while running


As working parents, when do you take time to think? Maybe on the toilet, while showering (briefly), laying in bed before precious sleep time…

I take my running time as a chance to consider how I’m doing, what’s going well, what I could improve. Or I think forward by planing some creative activity or charting out how to accomplish a life goal or even considering how to respond to an email. These days, I occasionally outline a post for this blog, too! When else would I have time to think?

I also (maybe strangely), often count while I run. Every fourth step on my left foot (thank you again, marching band), to achieve something like a meditative state. It’s so peaceful!

Me time

I’m an introvert. With a family, friends, and a full-time job, there is little time to recharge on my own. Running provides that opportunity without mental distraction. It’s sometimes the only time to myself I get in an entire day!


While running, I often seek out new places to explore (see my post on Routes), and to do that, I need to concentrate in order to find my way afterwards. I also frequently run into (no pun intended) neighbors, friends, and acquaintances in our small town of a city. I enjoy the ability to take a detour or pause for a chat without needing to deal with headphones, cords, and devices.

Do you run with headphones or earbuds? Why? Why not? How do you entertain yourself while running?

Accountability – Strategy #4

And we made it! By now, you’re ready to be a with all four strategies! You can work out smart scheduling, you are aligned with your partner, and you have a running stroller ready to use, just in case.

Even after you have set up these structures to make it easy for you to go for a run, there is still the matter of lacing up your shoes and getting out the door. And the number of barriers we make up for ourselves grows with every squeak from the kids’ bedroom or ding from the work email.

Here’s how to make sure you follow through!


Everyone’s accountability needs are different. Mine are the following:

  1. To myself: a goal and habits to reach the goal
  2. To my immediate community: a running partner
  3. To others: public commitment

Accountability to myself

To follow through, I need to set myself a goal and institute habits that make it easy for me to reach the goal. In the world of running, that means signing up for a race and setting up a training schedule. So, thanks to my neighbor’s suggestion, I registered for the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon, which takes place on September 1. It’s both terrifying and seems a long time from now!

I also leveraged my love of spreadsheets to put together a 16-week training plan, which includes short-ish runs 2-3 times per week, an increasingly long run once a week, rest days, and the option for cross-training. I even have a sheet dedicated to tracking my progress and how I feel on each of the runs (though I haven’t actively used it yet). Then I transcribed the spreadsheet into my Google Calendar, indicating how many miles and what time of day for each run. (See Partnership for the communication and coordination part of calendaring runs.)

Other habits that work for me:

  • Putting out my shoes and running clothes the night before
  • Convincing my kids that every weekend morning includes a run/walk in the double Bob
  • Using the Habit Loop app
  • Tracking my runs on MapMyRun and my food on MyFitnessPal

Accountability to my immediate community

Unfortunately a promise to myself isn’t quite enough to keep me honest, despite Rachel Hollis’ advice in Girl, Wash Your Face, to “never break a promise to yourself.”

So, for most (if not all) of my scheduled runs, I’ve coordinated with my neighbor, so we can run together. We text to check in and when we’re on our way out the door. And without those reminders that someone is actively waiting for me to show up and run with her, I probably wouldn’t go half of the time. The perception that I would be letting her down if I don’t run is enough to set accountability to her for my runs. A running partner is a GREAT accountability mechanism!

Accountability to others

And the icing on the cake is my accountability to the proverbial “rest of the world.” I’ve told many friends, coworkers, and family members about my upcoming half marathon. I’ve had to reschedule other activities due to planned runs. And most obviously, I’ve started this blog and am posting twice a week to share my journey toward running as a working mom. So, hey readers – others – it’s also up to YOU to keep me accountable!

What tips and tricks do you use to hold yourself accountable? I could always use more ideas to get me out on a run!

Running Stroller – Strategy #3

You are on your way to implementing the full four strategies toward You’ve set up smart scheduling and had some real conversations with your partner about how they’ll contribute to your running. You’re ready for my third strategy. This one comes into play when smart scheduling and partnership don’t quite work. This is the strategy you’ll employ when despite all your efforts, your kids need to join you on a run.

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to run while pushing a stroller. Kids can be wiggly and noisy and distracting, the stroller itself is heavy and confined to mostly smooth terrains, and your natural arm and leg movements aren’t possible when holding onto a stroller handle. That said, you’re here because you want to make this work. So, let’s make it happen with the help of a running stroller!

person pushing a stroller while running
Running Stroller

When A was about 6 months old, we bought our first Bob. The Bob is the Cadillac of running strollers – I wouldn’t recommend any other one. I can push, maneuver, and stop it with a single finger. And its giant real rubber wheels are equally useful on trails and on curbs. If you want to get started while your child is still too young to sit up, that’s an option with the travel system, though we waited until A could sit comfortably to run with him.

When B was born, we upgraded (?) to a Double Bob Jogging Stroller or Duallie. These look monstrously huge and in reality, yes they are. That said, it still fits through a regular doorway, along a regular sidewalk, and into a regular trunk of a car (albeit, nothing else will fit, and you’ll fight with it to fold it down small enough). AND it still handles like the single Bob – manageable with a finger. The added handbrake and safety wrist strap are valuable enhancements, too.

All this said, you need to be able to keep your kids entertained in order to successfully go on long runs with them in tow. And I’ve discovered that every kid requires different tricks and tools to keep them calm, happy, and relatively quiet on long runs (or let’s be honest – run/walks… these things are heavy). Let me tell you about mine.

A requires a hot juice (yes hot – don’t ask) in one pocket and a bowl of goldfish in the other, a blanket or sweatshirt, his hat, and a refill of snacks for when he gets antsy later on. B requires a bottle, a blanket, and increasingly, a matching bowl of Cheerios so he can be like A.

Additionally, I talk almost constantly to A. We point out trucks and trains, squirrels and dogs. He asks if each house we pass is ours. He notices every playground and we’ve begun taking creative routes to avoid them!

We also have the handbar console, which contains my phone, coffee, and bags of extra snacks. I also put my wallet in one of the seatback pockets, a diaper bag in the basket beneath the stroller, and a few books/soft toys just in case. In other words, just the gear weighs 20+ lbs, plus the combined 30+ lbs of my kids and however much the stroller itself weighs.

Bottom line – it’s possible to run with a Double Bob, but it is difficult. I often end up going on long 4-5 mile walks instead of short runs. Try out a few options and let me know what works best for you. Share your suggestions and thoughts in the comments!

Side note – these running strollers are incredibly expensive new, so we scoured garage sales and Craigslist until we found a used one in good condition. I recommend you do the same! They tend to hold their value for quite some time.