Half Marathon Training for Mom

The whole reason (or one of them) I started this blog was to continue holding myself accountable for my own half marathon training, and share the tricks I’ve learned in order to make this possible as a mom. We’ve discussed my four strategies as well as how I came to be a running, working mom.

So, how is this half marathon training going in real life? Let’s check on the plan first.

I’m a list-maker, an excel geek, a planner. So, of course I developed a 16-week half marathon training planner for me and my neighbor. At the onset, this seemed like the ideal way for us to reach our intended number of runs and distances each week. Having run the plan by a physical therapist, we confirmed that this (in addition to an initial month of running up to 3 miles and/or long quick walks of up to 5 miles, 1-2 times per week) this is reasonable and healthy for recent moms in training.

In practice, we’ve been using it to stay on top of our long-distance mileage, though the details have gotten a little fuzzy along the way. We’ve also been better about running the distances prescribed when we do them together, rather than when we attempt them on our own.

You can see just about how good I am at following a scheduled running calendar with the “Record” tab. (Hint hint – not particularly good.) You’ll also notice all the long walks I take with the double stroller, considering that my cross-training. Sometimes I run a few blocks with it (particularly if A says he has to go potty…), but usually when I’m pushing the million+ pounds of stroller/kids/supplies, I’m walking.

double stroller in the bottom left corner, view of the Burnside Bridge and the Willamette River to the right.
Walking around the Portland bridges with the double stroller

You’ll also see how I’ve had trouble sticking to the long-run part of the calendar. These tend to be scheduled on weekends which means I need to employ my partnership strategy. And with all the travel and weather challenges of the summer, I have not been great about following through. Hoping to do 8 miles this weekend, but we’ll see!

Any tips to keep me motivated for those long runs? Scheduling suggestions? What keeps you going?

Becoming a Parent

There were several years in my youth when I would tell anyone who asked that I did not plan to have kids. These were the days of dedication to my future studies and career. Plus, I didn’t enjoy babysitting, so why have kids, right?

Sometime between the end of college and getting married five years later, Richard and I had all of those healthy pre-marriage conversations and came to the mutual conclusion that the life we wanted together included children.

Then in May 2015, he and I took one of our best vacations together – two weeks in Peru. We went on an adventure trek along the Incan trail to Machu Picchu, stayed in a boat house on the Amazon, and explored Lima. It was also two years into our marriage, and when we decided to pull out the stops (literally and figuratively) and start trying to have kids!

Pecapeca on the Amazon River
Pecapeca (named for the motor sounds) on the Amazon

I distinctly remember swaying in the million degree heat and humidity in a flimsy boat on the Amazon and thinking, well, here we go! We also swam in the Amazon River that night. Fun fact – piranhas only live close to the shore, so if you plan to swim in the Amazon, aim for right in the middle!

Swimming in the Amazon while the sun sets
Swimming in the Amazon at Sunset

Over the next six months, we started. Until then, I had no idea how hard, how specific, how miraculous it is to become pregnant. There really is a tiny window every month when it’s even possible! Don’t tell teenagers, but it’s a lot less likely to happen by accident than I was made to believe.

Many couples have it much harder than we did. I’m endlessly amazed by the intense & excruciating effort some women have to put in to have children. And I’m in awe of those who persevere to adopt when all else fails. That said, my first was one of the nearly 20 percent of pregnancies that end in a miscarriage. While we mourned our loss and discussed all of our contingency plans, we started trying again.

I could write for days about the stigma around miscarriage, about those few weeks each month when women don’t drink because we’re not sure if we’re pregnant yet, about all the peeing on sticks, about the isolation and shame and disappointment every time another month passes without the dreaded but hoped-for symptoms, about the white lies about being exhausted and nauseated… but we’ll save that for another day.

Suffice it to say that in about March of 2016, we were overjoyed that our first child was on his way. By sometime that summer, we were convinced he would be around to stay, and by November, our lives changed forever!

What did your journey to parenthood look like?

Baby A, swaddled in a hospital blanket, holding mama's hand
Baby A

As a side note, I’ll add that during pregnancy, my doctors recommended a similar amount of exercise to whatever I was doing before I became pregnant. Well, in the couple of months before I became pregnant, I had a terrible flu, which meant virtually no exercise. So I spent the next 10+ months NOT exercising nearly at all. I’ll go into running while pregnant in another post, but for now, you can rest assured that I pretty much didn’t.

Partnership – Strategy #2

Now that you’ve set up your smart scheduling, the first of the four strategies toward work.run.mom, it’s time for the second strategy: partnership!

Two hands holding each other, in the shape of a heart

Have your kids figured out how to dress, feed, and supervise themselves yet? No? Then it’s probably not a good idea to leave them home alone.

Have you developed the motivation, will, and follow-through to run every time you want to, while also taking care of everything else that needs to get done around the house? No? Then you may need help.

Has your work allowed you take take unlimited time during the day to run, shower, take your kids to doctor appointments, attend mommy-and-me day, and be a human? No? Then let’s talk about partnership.

You may live near extended family who can help out when asked. You may have a nanny or neighbor who makes other moms jealous. Or you may be supermom and actually do it all yourself. If you’re supermom, I want your autograph…

But in all seriousness, our partners in parenting make the work.run.mom combo possible.

In my case, partnership consists of my wonderful husband and the high level of dedication, communication, emotional intelligence, and coordination we use to co-parent and co-thrive. So what does our partnership solution look like?

  1. Dedication – In true partnership, we share most of the financial, parental, and household duties. Though I took more parental leave when each kid was born, he put in nearly as many hours during the nights as I did during the day. We both commit to being home for the dinner and bedtime routine almost every night. And though our roles continue to evolve as the kids get older, we continue our dedication to parenting together. It doesn’t get as much attention as it used to, but we also are 100% dedicated to each other and the lifelong nature of our relationship. (This book helped us along the way: The 5 Love Languages)
  2. Communication – We agree to bring up issues as they come up and we discuss our status often. And by status, I mean how we’re feeling professional, physically, parentally. This also includes checking in with each other anytime an activity comes up that would require the other to take the kids for any amount of time, especially bedtimes. We call each other on the way home from work and check in during the day if anything changes.
  3. Emotional intelligence – We have learned each others’ triggers and stress relievers, and can identify each others’ moods quickly. I know that my husband needs to run 3-4 times per week and wiggle in some way daily to maintain his calm & collected attitude. He knows that I need to sleep 7 (but ideally 8+ hours) every night in order to keep my patience for the duration of the day. And we both can call in the immediate need to walk away when A’s tantrums get to be too much or B’s shrieking (really, who knew a kid could reach that decibel level?!) is getting to close to rupturing ear drums.
  4. Coordination – This takes the form of shared google calendars, where we insert when running will happen, what our workday looks like (including commute time), any social activities that are solo or family, and reminders that include shopping and/or to do lists each day. For running specifically, he stays home with the kids while I run, especially in the evenings while they’re asleep, according to my smart scheduling. And I do the same for him.

So, I dedicate this post to my partner and his contribution to making my work.run.mom life successful!

In what ways has partnership shown up in your life? What resources have helped you along the way?

Four key strategies to running as a working mom

Before kids, I could sleep in on weekends or build up the motivation to go for a run. I could go to a happy hour after work or lace up my running shoes for a work out. I could shower and go straight to work or set my alarm a little earlier and squeeze a jog in beforehand.

And back when I was in college, I didn’t even have to plan around the American classic 9-5. I could run in the middle of the day if I wanted, or at midnight. Why not?

Now that my husband and I both work full-time and co-habitate with a toddler and a baby who are largely dependent on us to do literally everything for them, from the moment they wake up until the moment they fall asleep (and sometimes in between), those whimsical workouts seem like a luxury.

We could wallow and complain about how easy life used to be, not only our schedules but our metabolism, our idealism, our expectations for the future… Or we can can be grown-ups and find a way to make what matters to us a reality.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a doctor, a therapist, a professional athlete, or a parenting expert. So consult all of those before taking any of my advice.

That said, I’ve found a formula that works for me to fit running into my life while also making the time and space to be a successful professional and engaged mom. In other words, my formula for work.run.mom…

And it boils down to four key strategies:

Join me in the next several posts as we explore each of these in more depth. And share the strategies that have worked for you in the comments!