Family life

How to run and have a family, too

Finding the right balance as she trains for her first ultra marathon is a struggle, but here are a few of Jennifer's tips

By Jennifer Pinarski
How to run and have a family, too

Trying to balance running and motherhood is a challenge! Photo by Ben Cooper via Flickr

Being a running parent is tough. I try my hardest to blog only about the wonderful things that being a runner brings — like better health, a positive outlook on life and much needed alone time. I rarely share the negatives of running and parenting because no one likes to be a Debbie Downer and by blogging here on Today’s Parent I want to inspire you to step outside of your comfort zone and to run, swim or cycle.
But, like I said, running and parenting is hard. This has really come to light in the last week for me as I finally plunked down my registration fee for the Tread 6 Hour Trail Run and wrote my training plan on our family calendar. There are a lot of kilometres to cover in the next 12 weeks, more than I’ve ever run before. And while the distance is daunting, it’s the mommy guilt that I know will be the toughest to conquer. When confessing my fears to other mothers, the same word keeps coming up: balance. While I don’t have the secret to making it work because my day-to-day life isn’t balanced, here’s what is working for me (so far).
Get your partner on the same page
In my case, this is the toughest. Mr. P isn’t a runner and doesn’t understand why I need him to leave me bananas at the end of the driveway. Paying a race director so that I can run in circles for six hours doesn’t make sense to my husband, so the training leading up to the run makes just as little sense. Sell it to your spouse this way: running makes you happy. And it’s cheaper than shoes.
Be prepared to stay up late, or get up early
Saturday and Sunday were my first big training runs. Friday night I was asleep by 9:30 p.m. I was up at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning to run 16K. By 7:30 p.m. I was facedown and drooling all over my daughter’s bed. Repeat for Sunday. I remember a time (before kids) when I loved getting up before dawn to run. I no longer love getting up early, but I prefer it to running at night (at least when it comes to running long distances).
But whatever you do, don’t do both
I’ve tried this before. I’ll stay up late to clean, blog or read and then set my alarm early to run. This will last for a few days, but you will crash. It isn’t pretty. 
Clearly communicate your trail run training plans and race dates
I’m guilty of NOT doing this. I usually keep my crazy ideas (like riding a bicycle for 160KM) to myself and then spring them on my husband at the last minute. Mostly because I realize that they are crazy ideas and it gives me a chance to chicken out. I’m also guilty of finding a pretty trail, deciding to run down it and coming back hours after I said I would. While it’s fun for me, it’s not fun for my husband. I’ve written all of my race dates and training distances on our family calendar. I also remind him the day before a long run that I will be gone for several hours.
Make sure your spouse gets their time too
Wife guilt is nearly as bad as mommy guilt. Being by myself for hours often feels selfish, especially on days like this past Sunday, when I returned late from a run and Gillian was hysterical because I missed her nap time. My husband was rightfully annoyed that I took longer than I said I would. Make sure that your spouse gets time to do what they want to do. 
Have I missed a tip? Whether it’s running or another hobby that takes you away from your children and partner, how do you make it work for you?

Photo by Ben Cooper via Flickr
This article was originally published on Mar 12, 2012

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