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?

Smart Scheduling – Strategy #1

We’re starting off with the first of four strategies to putting work.run.mom into action!

A run is the most accessible workout I know. You can’t possibly be late. It’s free. Required gear includes only clothes and shoes. And if you’re willing to be hot or cold or wet, you can do it anytime and most anywhere outside.

However, kids make scheduling these accessible workouts particularly difficult. They need me from when I wake up to when they go to sleep at night. And they don’t tolerate my departure very well, at least not while they’re both so little.

Not only do they need me, but my husband needs me, too. Two kids at their ages are quite a handful to entertain, feed, keep safe and happy all alone. I am more and more in awe of single parents for their ability to survive, not to mention accomplish the basics like shower and use the bathroom while being solely responsible for children!

This is why smart scheduling is the first and probably most important strategy to running while being a working mom.

calendar with pencil

What does that mean in practice? Think about when you are most needed at home, and when you are most needed at work. Then when are you at least 90% off duty?

Here’s what my schedule looks like… I’m on duty as mom, as soon as I hear A yell, “Green light is on!” at 6:10am. (Thank you Mirari OK to Wake Clock) While my husband gets ready for the day, I get the kids dressed and into their high chairs. A hot juice (long story, don’t ask) and cereal for A and a bottle and dry cheerios for B. Potty attempt for A. Often a second diaper for B. Shoes, booties, and I help get everyone out the door and into the car for daycare dropoff around 7am.

Then I’m on duty as a professional. I’m fortunate to have a flexible full-time work schedule and location, as long as it all gets done. So that sometimes means I jump in the shower and head straight to meetings, and other times it means I can work from home for a few hours before going to an office. Either way, I’m usually in full-speed work mode until between 5 and 5:30, when the garage door beeps, indicating it’s time to switch to mom and help my boys out of the car.

Evenings entail some play time, making then scarfing down a quick dinner, and then bedtime begins. Our dual bedtime routine is a delicate and intricate dance of precise timing, resulting in both children settling into their bed/crib within seconds of each other – awake but ready to sleep. And it all ends around 7:30pm, when we close their door, turn on the monitor, and breathe a sign of relief.

There typically are not enough consecutive minutes during those hours when I can fit in a run and shower.

My smart scheduling solution is to take advantage of evenings.

Those few hours when my kids are asleep and before I head to bed is my golden time for myself. Occasionally I use it for some one-on-one time with my husband. Other times, it’s for cleaning or reading or writing. But my new routine is to use this time 2-3 times per week for runs. It helps that I live pretty far north and spring through fall, it stays light quite late into the evening. And it also helps that when I go, my husband stays home (see Partnership strategy!) It requires a much lighter dinner in the early evening with the family and going to bed with my hair wet after an evening shower, but this smart scheduling allows me to run even with a full-time job and two kids at home!

I realize some moms work different shifts, have kids with later bedtimes, don’t have a partner at home, etc. I’m curious what your smart scheduling solutions are! Share in the comments.

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!