“Training for a marathon and having three kids five and under—those two things don’t even belong in the same sentence” said a woman in the locker room at the gym I attended. She overheard me talking to a fitness instructor about my exercise routine. Now normally this kind of comment would irritate me. But I was weeks away from running in my second marathon in Sacramento. Training was going exceptionally well. I was giddy with excitement. I was running in memory of my grandpa and for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and had exceeded my fundraising goal. Nothing or no one could crush my spirits.
I do often get asked the question, “How do you do it?” To be honest my story is not unique. There are many other marathon moms out there. Some have run more marathons than I have, qualified for Boston, and do more than one marathon a year.
There are triathlon moms I have met and Ironman moms (does that make them an Iron Woman?). The best answer I can give to “how you do it” is you have to love it.
I have plenty of bad workouts, but for the most part I LOVE RUNNING! I love the sound of my New Balance shoes hitting the asphalt. I love the wind moving through my hair. I love the taste of Gatorade. I have favorite running streets, hills, and parks. My kids know some of them now. I find tremendous solitude in running. I love the brief break from the chaos of piles of laundry and dirty dishes. I never carry an iPod or listen to music because I love the outside sounds—birds chirping, kids playing, the hum of a lawn mower, even chickens. This is another reason why I rarely run on a
treadmill. Even with our constant rain in the Pacific Northwest, I try to get outside.
If you do not love it, find something else. My husband hates running. He tried it once and completed a 5k. He had no interest whatsoever in continuing a running routine. Three years ago, he took up karate. He loves it! He hopes to one day get his black belt. I would say karate has done for Rob what training for a marathon has done for me. If you hate running, but want that sense of accomplishment, try a bike race or a triathlon. Or try kick boxing or rowing or rock climbing. Even dancing! There has to be something you enjoy. Do not force yourself to be a runner if you do not think you want to become one.
And marathon training can be very time consuming. At some points in the training I was running and working out 10-12 hours a week. Now for a competitive athlete who works out three hours a day, that is nothing. For a busy stay at home mom, that takes schedule juggling. Do not train for a marathon if your spouse is not supportive. If you are a single mom, you might need some girlfriends or child caregivers to help you out when you reach those long runs. I had to plan my runs around my family’s schedule and make sure Rob was available to be home with the kids. Rob was always supportive. I quickly discovered race training is a team sport.
Another thing I discovered is to run at the time of day you are at your best. Many runners wake up to a 5 AM alarm, lace up their shoes, and take off. I have tried.
I really should be one of those runners. But I have never been a morning person.
Anyone who has lived with me can attest to that. In the summers when my children are not in school I can run in the mornings as long as I am back before my husband leaves for work (by 8). During the school year, I will run in the late afternoon, evenings, or during my husband’s lunch hour. My husband comes home for every
lunch every single day and does not mind watching the kids so I can run…again I
cannot mention enough it is a team sport.
If all goes according to plans (and I know enough now that plans can change quickly) I hope to run my third marathon in June of 2012 on the Oregon Coast! Stay tuned to this blog for further updates. Feel free to share with me your running stories as well!