How do I find the time to run, workout, and race while being a mom? What’s it like?
Mamas (and everyone), it comes down to loving what you do and the process of doing it. To me, ultrarunning is a lifestyle. It’s valuable, there’s a lot of meaning behind it. [To see why I run, go here https://beshortrunultra.home.blog/2021/01/04/reasons-why-i-run-digging-deep/ ] I have fuel feeding my fire and an incredibly supportive community of runners, friends, and family.
Mom-life is fantastic, it’s also exhausting! There are many day-to-day challenges and obstacles when you have a toddler. Teething, constantly cleaning up messes, kissing boo-boos, playing hard, and reading the same book a bajillion times in one hour. I also run a part-time mental health private practice, which is a full-time job. I’m a busy woman. Times can be pretty intense.
Having a toddler is like being ruled by a tiny dictator, you follow their schedule for the majority, so finding time to run can be complex. From a contrasting perspective, it was also difficult to fit these things in prior to motherhood. It’s easy, yet not easy being an ultrarunner. Who has the time to go run for a few hours and cross train? Well, I guess elite ultrarunners and a handful of other people. Ultra-prep is time consuming, but with it being a lifestyle, it’s a bit easier.
Find time and make time
I operate my business from home and work with clients a few evenings per week. I take care of my daughter all day and the evenings that I’m not meeting with clients. My husband works full-time, but also from home. For weekday runs, which are typically under 10 miles, I need to be ready to go anytime. Wake up, wear run clothes all day. I don’t know what jeans are. My daughter may have one, two, or zero naps a day, and I never know how long they will be. When my mini me naps, this is my chance to go, that’s it. Ready or not. My husband will keep an eye on her. If she doesn’t nap, then my options are either to ask my husband if he can take a longer break from working, ask other family (evenings only), or I’ll run after my daughter goes to bed.
Runs and post run strength need to be finished before she wakes up or within a reasonable amount of time because my wonderful husband has to return to work. Sometimes runs are cut short due to quick naps or she didn’t fall asleep at all. I then find the time to finish out the miles or push them to another day, not a big deal. My running coach, Kyle Kranz, helps with that, as well. For these runs that are cut short, I’ll strength train once I get her out of bed.
If my husband can’t watch, I go on the treadmill. If other family can help, I’ll be outside.
Tired, hungry, housekeeping
On top of the obvious tiredness, I also might be hungry because I didn’t get to eat. When I have the chance to go run, I go run. I can eat after my daughter’s nap. Heading out the door hungry doesn’t happen frequently, but it does happen.
I’ll run when I still have work to do, still have dishes, still have laundry. I’m good at time management and multitasking. I run my house like a business. To-do lists never go away, unless you make them. Running will always be the priority, it has to be if you want to participate in the sport.
My daughter loves going out in the jogger, she will fight off sleepiness to stay awake and look around. We take snacks, milk, and a toy. Her limit is 3 to 5 miles, and then she’ll want to bust out of the seat. Which is fine, she probably shouldn’t be in the jogger for much longer than that, anyway. Jogger runs are fun and I get resistance training.
Weekends are typically for long runs, sometimes back-to-back. Anywhere from 13 miles to an ultra distance. Again, I ask my family if they can watch her while I go play in the mud. I think that these are the truly rejuvenating runs. Afterwards, I’m the most patient and sane mother on Earth. I do experience mom guilt and miss my little one while I’m away.
During races, I carry her in my pack. Just kidding. Family loves spending time with her and spoiling her. She’s always very sweet and well-behaved.
For strength work, I weight lift and do yoga. Strength work time varies. Depending on the exercises, I either do them around my daughter or wait until she’s sleeping. If it’s body weight, I carefully do it while she’s playing next to me. I have to move the death trap of toys. If I’m using weights, I could go into the next room, but she’ll follow, so when it’s night-night, that’s usually the best time. For yoga, I try to get her to participate with me, but I’m usually handed books and climbed all over. She will participate some, it’s super cute to watch her try to replicate the movements.
It’s hard work
Being a mother runner is way harder than being a non-mother runner! Finding that passion and fuel are secret weapons to getting the job done. Things become slightly easier the more used to it I become. My hard becomes my easy, same thing as running.
With all of this craziness going on, I just have to take action. If things don’t line up, if I don’t feel like it, that’s too bad, I do it anyway, and I feel better when I do. Being a mother runner doesn’t seem all that different than what I did before and I have to find time or make it. Things can be intense with the lack of sleep, being physically exhausted, sometimes hungry, and managing multiple things at once. In a way, this hectic, unpredictable schedule better prepares me for the next crazy thing to happen during a race. Ultrarunning isn’t predictable, neither is being a mom.
I LOVE seeing women on overall finisher podiums at races. What do I love even more? When those women are mothers!! Heck, yeah!!! Very inspiring and bada$$! Becoming a mother has added so much to my life, even though it jumbled up my run stuff. I’m blessed to be a mama, thankful for every minute of it.
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