Back in December when we were setting our fitness goals for 2016, I said I wanted to run a 10k in the summer and a half marathon in the fall. I ran the NYRR Women’s Mini back in June, and I’ll be doing the Rock N Roll Brooklyn Half this coming Saturday. So I’ve been training since about 8 weeks post partum to get ready for these races (“ready” haha – there’s going to be A LOT of walking in this half). Its been good motivation, but training has been tough.
I’m happy that I’m hitting the goals I set for myself, but now looking back, I think I would have preferred different goals. I know that there are plenty of amazing badass moms who pop out a baby and are out completing marathons and Ironman competitions within the year, but as it turns out, that’s not me. So race training with an infant has been hard for a number of reasons, some real and some self imposed.
- You can’t take her with you. Even if you have a fancy running stroller (I don’t), you can’t take your baby running until she is 6 months old.
- Planning around your breastmilk. I’m breast feeding, which I’m so happy I’ve been able to do, but it means at all times (literally ALL TIMES) some part of my brain is on when and where I’ll be nursing or pumping next. I love nursing and hate pumping and the thought of losing any milk makes me want to cry. So I end up trying to time my run around her naps so I can nurse right before I leave and avoid having her take a bottle while I’m out (or even worse, have a bottle made and then have her refuse it). This causes me to sometimes take over an hour to actually leave the house and start running.
- Someone has to hang out with the baby. While I’m getting ready to run, running, and cleaning up post-run, someone (read:dad) has to watch her. I’m not making a comment about dad’s ability to care for a baby here – he’s amazing – but when one of us makes plans without the baby, we’re making plans for the other parent. His time to run errands, or exercise, or just relax is tied up in when and how long I’m busy running. This isn’t a complaint, it’s just parenting, and it makes running long distance a bit more of a thing than before.
- I’m not a morning person. I’ve never been a morning person, but morning is the best time for me to work out. So in the past, I went to the gym in the morning before work, but it took multiple alarms and threatening texts with my gym buddy to hold me accountable. Now, my baby’s sleep schedule is so unreliable that getting to the gym before work would probably require me to go at 4AM. I’m so tired and grumpy in the morning now, if I went that early everyone in my path would be at risk of bodily harm. So, running before work isn’t working for me yet, and running after my daughter goes to bed would mean heading out in the dark, which I won’t do alone.
- I’m a little lazy/ I’d rather hang out with my baby. I’ve always been a little lazy at heart – like I’d totally rather sit on the couch for hours on end binge watching the Anne of Green Gables movies and eating Pringles than exercising. I get myself up off the couch by setting goals for myself that will be scary if I don’t actually train. But now, I’ve got this amazing little creature in my house, and all I really want to do when she’s awake and I’m at home, is hang out with her. I have very little perspective when it comes to her and the value of taking care of myself. I’m working on it.
I think a lot of these issues are going to get easier as my baby gets older and we get her on more of a set routine. There is already so much that is easier than it was in the first few months (like back when she wouldn’t take a bottle and I couldn’t really leave the house without her).
That being said, now that I know how it is for me, I’m reevaluating my training goals for the next 6 months. The past few weeks I’ve been dreading my long runs because of all of the above issues. Plus I pushed too much distance too soon (because of all of the above), so I’m never sure what 7 or 9 or 10 miles is going to feel like on any given day. While I definitely want to get back to doing halfs or triathlons at some point, after this half marathon coming up I think I’ll stick to 10Ks and shorter distances for the next few months. I need to build a base again. I need to get back to running more and walking less. I also need to feel happier about going out on runs, and part of that solution for me will be limiting my time on each run so I can get home faster to hang out with my baby. I’ve always told myself- I’m not ever going to win races, so what’s the point of running if it isn’t making me happy?
I love hearing from all you other moms about how you’re doing with your own balancing act. Share with me about what motivates you to get exercising and your you balance your exercise time with your precious baby time.