Blogger Highlight: The Foodie Runner Balancing Fitness With Family
Over the past 3 years, my training has varied greatly depending on the stage of life that I was in. Whether I was seriously training to run personal bests, running to maintain an active pregnancy, or coming back postpartum, each year looked very different.
Three years ago, I was going to school part-time and working part-time, and my husband was traveling a lot for work. So, I had the time, energy, and ability to put my training near the top of my priorities. This was especially true since my classes were in the evening and my high school coaching job was in the afternoons, so I had each morning to devote to my training.
In that year before I got pregnant, I was averaging right around 50 miles a week including 2 interval type workouts and a long run. During this time I ran personal bests in the marathon (3:06:09 at Chicago 2014) and the half marathon (1:21:22 at the Orange County Half in 2015).
When my husband and I started thinking about having a baby, we decided that I would maintain my level of training until we were pregnant. This decision mainly hinged on the fact that I was registered for the 2016 Boston Marathon, and if I hadn’t gotten pregnant by 3 months before the race, we would put the plans for baby on hold and I’d train seriously for Boston. In my mind it was a win-win: either I’d get to run my favorite marathon in the world OR I’d be pregnant!
Two months later, I found out that I was pregnant, so all plans of marathon training were put on hold. However, I did want to continue running through my pregnancy. Everyone approaches pregnant running differently, and I know a lot of women that slow down their pace significantly, but maintain their pre-pregnancy mileage.
Personally, I chose to decrease my mileage as soon as I found out I was pregnant and maintained my pre-pregnancy pace as long as possible. This felt like the right decision for me because I knew that maintaining my mileage, but slowing down my pace would just increase the overall time I was spending on my feet, which would be an added strain on my growing body. Instead, I focused on getting in shorter, yet quality runs. I averaged right around 20 miles each week and was able to maintain an “easy run” pace under 8 minutes, while also doing about 1 “workout” type run and 1 long run each week.
In addition to my runs, I added in low-impact cardio like biking (on a stationary bike) as well as walking and increased the amount of strength training I was doing.
I think everyone is capable of having an active pregnancy, but, as always, there are some considerations to make:
Have a clear idea of how active you were before you got pregnant.
This is not the time to be ramping up your training. It’s a time to maintain and/or just enjoy being active; take some time for yourself.
Get clearance from your doctor.
Your specific pregnancy may require alterations to your pre-pregnancy activities, but your doctor should be able to help you determine what activities are safe for you and your baby.
Consider changing things up a bit.
Now, I’m not saying take up unicycling or something dangerous, but if you love yoga or wished you went for more walks, try something new while you are pregnant and running less than you were before. You may also have to shift around the time of
day you work out. Before I was pregnant, I was an EARLY riser, but while I was pregnant, that’s when I was the most tired and nauseated, so I started running and working out in the late morning.
Listen to your body.
Your baby and your body will let you know if you are doing too much. Listen to them!
I am so thankful that I was able to maintain a pretty high level of activity until I was 7 months along. At that point, I decreased my
training volume again and just enjoyed 1-2 mile runs every few days (for fun and my sanity) and did a lot more walking than running.
After my daughter was born, my training took another shift. I took off about 3.5 weeks completely after she was born and then started up running with short, easy paced runs. Mentally it felt so great to be running, but I definitely felt slow and awkward those first few weeks back. To be honest, while I was pregnant, I totally thought I would be one of “those moms” that bounced back extremely quickly and was training and racing a few months after birth, but I was so wrong. Not only was I trying to balance new motherhood and running, I was also finishing up my grad school classes AND adjusting to a new job that I started a month after she was born.
For months, I was hovering right around 30 miles of only easy paced runs each week. At first, I was kicking myself for my supposed lack of motivation, but I finally came to the realization that I was dealing with so many things at once, that after an adjustment period, my motivation would return. It finally did about 9 months post-partum, after which point I joined forces with my current coach, and began some serious training for the first time in 1.5 years.
Now, six months into training with him, I’ve run personal bests in the 10K and half marathon, and I am training for a marathon in December. I’m juggling a lot, so my training looks a lot different than it did before I had my daughter, but I’m so glad that I’m still able to chase my running goals as a mom. I currently do a lot of morning runs with the girls that I coach and log a lot of treadmill miles in the evenings for second runs, but the training is all getting done.
My biggest tips for busy moms trying to fit training around mom and work duties are:
Be patient and give yourself grace.
You are dealing with so many things as a new mom. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Only return to exercise when you are cleared by your doctor and feel the desire to workout again. I promise that even if it takes longer than you thought, your desire for running/exercising will return.
Don’t try and stick to a rigid schedule. Have a basic plan for what you want to accomplish in the week, but be willing to shift things around, if necessary. Right now, I’m in the middle of cross country season, so we’re traveling a lot for the team’s races, which means that my long runs are constantly being shifted around to the most convenient weekend day. In the past, this would have been hard for me because I prefer my long runs to fall on Saturday, but as a coach, that isn’t always possible.
Include your baby.
Whether it’s pushing them in the running stroller, running on the treadmill next to them playing in the pack’n’play, or doing a mommy and me workout with them, your baby will love spending time with you while you get your workout in!
Rethink what a “successful” workout looks like.
Before baby, you probably had the ability to get in a long workout, but a workout doesn’t have to be an hour to be effective. Try a 20-minute HIIT workout or short sprint intervals on the treadmill during nap time. You will feel so much better after you get your body moving!
Up next, The Foodie Runner talks about her favorite running gear!