Given that I’m most likely a decade older (!) than Kelly, and probably a good number of her readers, I thought it would be somewhat interesting to give a glimpse into the possible future of life after babies… I’m certainly no Shalane or Kara, and I can’t even begin to imagine what training is like for Olympic athletes after having kids. Nor can I imagine what it would be like for a pro athlete to make the decision to even have kids; this post from Lauren Fleshman gives us a hint. But I DO know is what it’s like to be an everyday athlete, and mother, that loves to run.
I came across this article on 10 Things Winners Do Differently and thought it applied perfectly to keeping up your running mojo after having babies. So I made a top three list:
#1 “Keep Good Company” = pick the right guy! (or significant other!)
Having a supportive partner in raising your kids is so very important, for the many obvious reasons, but also for your health and well-being. Prepare your significant other for Saturday or Sunday mornings spent doing some one on one bonding with the kids while you’ll inevitably be out racing or doing a long run. Don’t worry about the kids and just GO. Let him feed them some junk or stay in their pjs all morning, they won’t be marred for life and you’ll be a much happier mom if you let the small stuff slide. He’s a runner, too? Since you picked the right partner, you have great communication and a good give and take attitude. You can each have a weekend day to do your thang, and if you’re lucky enough to have grandparents/extended family nearby – kudos to you! I’m jealous!
#2 “Think Constructively” = you might need some contraptions or creativity to get a run in!
Just going out for a run isn’t as easy as it once was, so you have to get resourceful about how you’ll accomplish your workouts. Early on, when my firstborn was an infant, I actually did step aerobics and other workout videos in another room while he napped. I also highly recommend a jogging stroller. I even joined a few Stroller Strides classes to get me out the door in the early days and learned some strength moves to do on the go. The most helpful thing in my life as a running mom is my local Y; if you can afford it, I highly recommend a gym with daycare. The Y is a huge hit with our family – trusted caregivers that have been there for years and great youth sports programs to boot. If you’re a working mom, I’d start experimenting with early morning running or the lunchtime routine now, before having kids, so that you’re used to it if you decide to have a family. And let go of the guilt if you take some of that precious time to yourself on the weekends or after work occasionally – which leads me to:
#3 “Practice Self Love” = ditch the mom guilt
I just loved the quote from this one: “Caring for yourself is not an act of self-indulgence, it’s an act of self-respect.” This is always easier said than done and all mothers feel some level of at all times, whether they work or stay at home; but it’s worth aspiring to minimizing the guilt as much as possible. Let that significant other watch the kids, hit up grandma, don’t feel guilty about your daily hour at the gym, etc. I am way more patient and loving with my family when I’ve had my running therapy. Additionally, think about what a great example you are setting for your kids by being healthy, by being strong, setting goals, having self discipline… the list goes on.
Bonus #4! – “Focus on the Controllable” = you have no control over your children
Yes, you can control all aspects of their lives: what they eat, when they go to bed, how they are disciplined, etc. But they are their own individual little spirit and will not always conform to your schedule or personality. This was by far the hardest thing about becoming a parent for me, as I crave control in my life. So I exercise as much control as I can in the way they are raised, and in my running life – running is such a great outlet for control freaks! I remember doing a parenting exercise at one of our co-op preschool meetings where each table had a different plant on it – some had cacti, some had orchids, others had gardenias. The point being that when you have a baby, you don’t know what you’re going to get and you need to take care of your specific child and their individual needs. You just might have a prickly little
cactibaby that hates the jogging stroller – eeep! Maybe early morning runs or the local Y are in your future. Just know that with kids, nothing lasts forever (your newborn will let you sleep again, promise!) and you’ll soon forget the more difficult times. But, remember to stay in the moment as much as possible and enjoy the NOW. I so miss my kids at nine months old – wee little smiling butterballs! Try not to always think ahead to the next milestone, because the same holds true for the amazing moments (first smiles, words, I love you!) they won’t last forever.
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