Sunday, July 29, 2012

Guest Post - Jen - Motherhood & Running

Hey all - I'm out of town for the weekend and wanted to bring you a great post.  Jen is kicking some running butt, seriously I dream of being that fast, and doing it all while raising a family.  My question - How do you balance it all?
*I am a 30 something mom to a toddler, wife to a triathlete, grad student and competitive runner. I work as faculty in a small private college and as a running coach allowing me some flexibility. Check out my blog at

Is it possible to be a mother and stay active at the same time? I get asked this frequently and the answer is “of course” but it takes a little work and compromise at times. When I was pregnant with my daughter I often heard the three words “Just you wait” followed by some inevitable change that I was going to make strictly as the result of becoming a parent. These changes often involved some aspect of running or being healthy. I was probably told daily that I would never run as well again, but as stubborn as I am I aimed to prove these people wrong and was quickly back and running PRs and reaching new goals. I find it odd that no one ever says to a pregnant woman “you will never watch TV again” but they are quick to say you will not work out again.
I won’t say there haven’t been changes or that it is always easy, but with work it isn’t tough. I recently saw a sign that said “you would never skip an important meeting with your boss so why skip a workout”.
If you don’t think you have time then figure it out: Okay maybe not so simple, but look at a typical day and write down you obligations. Figure out where you can fit in things; maybe this means walking to the store for groceries instead of driving or hitting the treadmill while you watch your favorite show.
·    Plan ahead: write down your time at the gym, running, biking, etc. in your planner for the coming day, week or month and stick with it. Along with this plan and make meals ahead, I often spend Sunday afternoon naps making a few freezer meals for the week ahead allowing me extra time during the week to go to the gym, play outside with my daughter or just relax on those busy workout days.
·    Get up early: I often sacrifice extra sleep to be up for 4:30 am run, bike or most recently my new 5:30am boot camp. It is a tough routine to get into but you set the clothes out at night, crawl out of bed and go without thinking. I am often halfway through a workout before I am fully awake. This way I am done in time to either spend the day with my daughter or get to work.
·    Enlist help: Whether you are a mom who needs a babysitter or someone needing an extra kick to get moving on a workout, ask someone to help. Join a gym with childcare, this is good for everyone, kids can play while mom has some me time. My husband and I often split workouts while pushing the BOB or days for long runs.
·   Allow yourself this time: As a mom, wife and grad student with a job I deserve me time and for me this is when I work out. I have time to think and de-stress. This short time away from my family (or bringing them along) to go run makes me a better person in all aspects.
·   Know yourself: your strengths and weaknesses and work with it.  I prefer the morning to work out and am much more apt to skip a workout if I save it for after work. 
    Find the things you like: hate running, find a fun spin class.
·   Make a date: Grab a friend, join a group, hire a trainer. Even on the tough days if someone else is counting on you it is more likely to happen.
·   Take advantage of naptime: This has been huge for me on days I am home. The first year of my daughter’s life I spent a lot of time running on the treadmill during naps. I sacrificed a clean house some days to run, but I didn’t care!
·   Accept that it will never be perfectly planned: Even with the best intentions there are days when meetings run late, kids are sick, weather is bad, etc. Roll with these inconveniences and throw in a workout DVD at home, walk at lunch or skip a workout (the world will not end) just don’t let this be the norm!
·   Set goals that are concrete to motivate: Run a 5K, do a triathlon, buy something for sticking to the plans.

Yes, it takes work and good time management but anything is possible. If I can make it work anyone can. In the past couple years since becoming a mom I think my body has gotten stronger and healthier through better workouts, eating healthier through planning and working to be a good role model. -


  1. great tips
    my 'toddler' days are well behind me though :)

  2. Those are great tips. Becoming a parent shouldn't force you to give up things you love. You may have to schedule a little differently, but it is doable.

  3. I love Jen's determination, I can definietely relate. It takes work and re-prioritizing to fit it all in, but is doable!

  4. Thanks for letting me write this, I get so frustrated with people saying you can't do things strictly becuase you have kids. Yes I am a mom and yes I love my daughter and she is my priority but I didn't lose myself in this new role. Me time is so important to being a great mom :)

    1. I really appreciate you doing it for me. I always wonder how do they fit it all in and hope that when I have children I will be as determined to continue running as you. Me time is essential.

  5. Love this! I really like that your attitude is just 'get it done' but the tips are really practical and diplomatic. I feel like you're much kinder than I am to those who whinge about wanting to exercise but 'don't have time'.

  6. I have people tell me all the time that they don't have time to work out, and I just stare at them. I work any where between 9 and 14 hour days, usually 6 days a week. I go to school and I have a family. This is a really great list of ways to explain how to make time to work out instead of just telling them they do have time, they just may have to miss their favorite tv show.

  7. Like how you outlined to play on your strengths. Very true and people forget this.


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