This is my first guest blog! Janice is a working momma of two whose article I was introduced to through a mutual friend. I won’t go into much detail as her article speaks for itself but I am so proud to be apart of a community of fit moms who give so much to their kids and their work, but also realize how important it us to for us to carve out time to work on ourselves and our health.
How to Be a Running Mom
By: Janice Bruce
I hear it all the time: “How do you do it?” Occasionally, someone is asking about my decadent mashed potatoes, but usually this has to do with my diligent running routine and how I am able to balance working and being a mom. Unlike many running moms, I think I had the benefit of already being a runner before I had kids.
I know it doesn’t come easily for everyone, though, and I have definitely struggled and sacrificed at times. Because running is so necessary for my sanity, I knew I needed to figure out a precise plan in order to be able to lace up my kicks multiple times a week. With 2 boys younger than 7, everything must be a coordinated effort.
Here is a rundown of how I manage it.
Always Be Ready
I know, you probably rolled your eyes when I mentioned a “precise plan.” When it comes to kids, everything is perfectly unplanned. I decided that the same goes for running. I tell myself, “I will get a run in some time today,” but I don’t always know when that will be, so I stay ready to dash out the door at any given time.
When my second was born, I was often doing my errands in my running clothes. I might drop the kids at swim lessons and run around the pool neighborhood. Or as soon as my wonderful husband came home from work, he took over kid duty for the next 30 to 45 minutes so I could work in my run for the day. (I should definitely mention that my partner in parenting has been hugely supportive, and I wouldn’t be able to juggle it all without him.)
Since returning to work, my routine has actually gotten a bit easier because the kids are at school or daycare all day and I run at lunchtime, then eat at my desk. On days when that doesn’t work out, I do sometimes find myself running as late as 10 o’clock at night. If you’re considering running alone very early or late, please take appropriate safety precautions or think about a gym membership. Here’s a bonus tip: Keep a backup set of shoes and clothes in your vehicle.
Pump Early & Often
I chose to breastfeed my little dudes. After learning everything I could about using and storing breast milk, I devised a plan. I pumped between 3 and 5 times a day because, remember, I didn’t know exactly when or for how long I would be gone on runs. While the duration of many of my runs wasn’t that long, sometimes my run times would coincide with feeding time. This would give my husband the ability to feed with or without me there. Another benefit of this was that I wasn’t always the one obligated to get up in the middle of the night, as we always had some milk stashed in the fridge.
The only time this didn’t work as well was on race days. Running a half marathon would mean that I would go up to 3 hours without pumping. To compensate, I pumped as soon as I woke up that morning around 4 a.m. I remember when my older son was just 7 months old, breakfast was in the car parked as close to the start line as we could manage while fellow racers were milling around waiting for the race to start. So learn the guidelines for milk storage, and save all you can.
Letting Go Sometimes
My best advice is probably to not stress out if you have to sacrifice something every so often. Take breaks when you need to. There will be a time when some other priority has to somehow fit into the schedule. For instance, I took a long break when I got a mommy makeover. As I said, I’ve been a runner a long time, and my athletic body was something I was proud of and really a part of my identity. Of course, pregnancy and breastfeeding brought changes. I suddenly had a lot of lumps and bulges that wouldn’t go away, even after a year and a half of diet and exercise.
I started reading up on surgical solutions and found this website from San Jose mommy makeover specialist Dr. Lepore. I realized I was going to need several weeks of downtime, and although I could gradually resume some exercise, I needed to keep it low-impact for a while. I decided this was something I wanted to prioritize, so I didn’t run for a few months. This little exercise in shifting gears helped make it easier to cope when other things came up, like the husband getting sick or school being canceled unexpectedly. I learned to let go a little and not beat myself up about skipping days.
I truly believe that running helps me be a better mom, so my family and I have found a way to make it a priority in our lives. With your loved ones’ support and some careful planning, you can make it a priority, too.