Running Routes and Tracking

I don’t know about you, but it kills me to get in my car in order to run. Maybe that’s why I’ve always valued living close to running and biking trails. And when my total run is 4-5 miles, it better not take me 3 miles to get to the pretty park for running, or else I’ll never get there.

I tend to map out routes on MapMyRun in advance, and send the route to my phone, so I can track it in action. I don’t necessarily race against myself, but I am terrible with directions, so having a map in front of me is vital in order to end up where I intend to. Some of my favorite runs, though, and the best way to distract myself, are unplanned. If I don’t know the distance I’ve run so far or how fast I’ve been going, then I’m more likely to push through.

Either way, my favorite running routes include beautiful scenery, shade, a bike or running trail devoid of stop lights, not too many hills, and a bit of exploration or variation. From my house across one of Portland’s many bridges, and back is a 3-mile loop. It’s a perfect evening run because it’s not too crowded, includes minimal road crossings, and the Willamette River is a constantly changing and gorgeous thing to observe.

yellow grass in Tom McCall Park with toddler running ahead of woman pushing double running stroller, Hawthorne Bridge in the background
Walking with the running stroller in Tom McCall Park with the Hawthorne Bridge in the background

For every run and every long double stroller walk, I use MapMyRun on my phone to track my pace, time, and distance. It also syncs with MyFitnessPal, which means I can track how calories burned through my runs affect calories ingested through my meals. I keep my apps on private mode and don’t connect to friends through the app. I prefer my accountability structures to be in-person or more meaningful than through only an app.

Several of my friends use Strava, which allows competitions, racing, and tracking while you run. I can see how that would be valuable features for some!

How do you map out your routes, track your progress, share your successes?

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?

Accountability – Strategy #4

And we made it! By now, you’re ready to be a work.run.mom 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!

Accountability

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 work.run.mom. 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.