Have a baby.
I thought I was busy before having kids. I tend to overbook when it comes to scheduling. My husband on the other hand is more comfortable not having everything planned out and enjoys spending time at home. It’s not that I don’t, I’m just a bit more type-A. It feels good to have to have a plan for the day, week, or month (and who am I kidding year, decade, life).
What does this have to do with running you ask? I’m nowhere close to an elite status when it comes to running, but it is something that I
force myself to do enjoy. I’ve been running pretty regularly since 2010. That year I ran both a 10k and half marathon. I proceeded to run through most of my first pregnancy, as well as after I received clearance postpartum.
I didn’t attempt a full marathon until after having my first child. Crazy, huh? I wanted a goal to help me gain my identity back, besides now being a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my new title. You just tend to give up a lot of yourself after having kids. It’s part of the deal, but we all need a little something to call our own.
Luckily my husband was very supportive. At first my goal was to complete another half marathon on the 4th of July, when our baby was about 9 months old. Due to some extreme heat conditions, the race ended up getting shortened from 13.1 to 5 miles and to say I was disappointed was an understatement. I decided to run “my own half marathon” that following weekend and when I finished, I had a huge sense of accomplishment.
There’s a big difference between running a race and running by yourself; especially long distance. There’s no one watching when you’re on your own. Typically it’s just you and the open road. You have to be self-motivated and keep yourself in check if you don’t have a running partner or people there to cheer you on. Being an entrepreneur is a lot like this.
Completing that distance on my own was what gave me the confidence to continue on training for the full 26.2 miles. I signed up for a small race in Mankato, MN for October 21, 2012. This would be weekend our baby boy turned one.
Due to being a working mom, I had to be very efficient with my running schedule. I would run three short distances on average during the week and had the requisite long run every weekend. I molded my own training plan after researching some popular freebies online to fit my unique schedule. This worked really well for me and I continued to check my runs off my training calendar for the rest of the summer and into the fall.
Race day came and so did our son’s first birthday party. We celebrated at the hotel on Saturday with extended family and after a toss and turn type of night, I got up to run the race that Sunday morning. Finishing the marathon ended up being the second hardest and most gratifying experience to date at that time. There were moments that I was tempted to quit or walk more than run, but I persevered knowing the hard work I had put into training and that my husband and son would be waiting for me at the finish line. I also found out just how tough I really was.
A couple weeks later I learned that I was pregnant and had been during the marathon, with our second child. Our daughter has to be one of the youngest marathoners ever;-). My pregnancy could have accounted for the nauseous feeling at mile 23 anyway. I continued to run throughout the majority of that pregnancy and again postpartum to get back in shape. I completed another half marathon last fall in the same city.
To be honest now having two kids (one of which is a toddler), makes it a lot harder to find time to run. I have the same 24 hours as everyone else, but am often plagued with “mommy guilt,” when it comes to doing things just for me. This means I need to prioritize and since running is only one of my personal ventures, it sometimes has to take a backseat to other goals. When I do run, I have a lot of motivation to get in as many miles in the least amount of time as possible.
Research suggests that women oftentimes get faster after having kids (source). I always wondered why this was. Personally, I think that it has more to do with having to prioritize ones time, rather than some genetic reason. I’ve found myself getting faster, especially after having our second baby. Knowing that I only have X amount of time to run on the treadmill while they’re both sleeping or that they are waiting for me when I get back from an outdoor run really pushes me to run as fast as possible.
I’m still not going to win any races, but I have taken my average mile time down by over a minute in the last year. I’m working towards an 8 minute mile, as my long term goal. This way if I do ever attempt marathon #2, my training time should be decreased dramatically!
Do you feel that you’re more efficient after having kids? If so, in what way?
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