Being a runner is tough. Being a runner while pregnant, caring for an infant or wrangling a young child is even tougher. Mom runners are among the most hardcore of the running set — and we have the best advice from two moms who have been through pregnancy and infanthood only to have come out faster and stronger on the other side.
Here are six nuggets of advice from moms who run:
WALK BEFORE YOU RUN
Whether you’re a new mom or a mom of an active child who’s been keeping you too busy to get a good night’s sleep, know that it’s OK to back off your training plan when needed. Jennifer Faraone, author of “The Athletic Mom-To-Be: Training Your Way into Pregnancy and Motherhood,” says that a smart runner is willing to walk or hike at first. An early morning crew of mom runners in Ontario kicks their hikes up a notch by bringing their babies along in packs to add weight while enduring a lower impact than a run.
FIND YOUR CREW
“Hang out with like-minded people,” says Krista Allen, a teacher, mom and serious runner, who has been known to hit the trails before dawn with some other local moms who’ve banded together in the pursuit of PRs while raising their small children. “I met great groups of moms with each baby. Some were friends for only that time and some became lifelong friends. If you have someone to meet, you’re more likely to stick to a plan.”
EMBRACE THE OFF-HOURS
You might need to work on becoming an early morning or late-night runner if you really want to log miles. “When we were doing our workouts at 4 a.m., and it was feeling really tough — like when you’re just about to slack off because it’s on the cusp of your comfort zone — I would tell myself: ‘You got up early for this. This is the only chance you’ll have today to make it count,’” says Allen. Make the most of those times: Allen says if you’re serious about competing, every workout should have a purpose and be efficient. (That includes the importance of taking rest days, too.)
TREADMILLS ARE YOUR FRIEND
Faraone says that runs should happen whenever possible … And that might mean when your child finally takes a nap at 2 p.m. and you have 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to hop on a treadmill and log a few miles. If you can’t afford a fancy new treadmill or simply don’t have the space, opt for a gym that offers daycare — most YMCAs do.
COMPARISONS ARE ODIOUS
Your biggest competitor won’t be the woman running next to you in your run club, Faraone says. Rather, you’re more likely to be competing with the pre-child/former runner version of yourself, and that’s how she sees most injuries happen. After her second child was born, she signed up for three races. Rather than setting a goal time, her goal was to finish each one a little faster than the last. It’s a solid goal but open-ended enough that she wasn’t competing with her old times.
BABY FOOD IS FILLING AND NUTRITIOUS
Allen found a hack for eating on the run that saves cash. “Baby food pouches are awesome workout fuel, are made with real food and are cheaper than gels!” she adds. Even after your kids are off the baby food, it can be a great alternative.