(This is part II of my running journey, click here to read part I.)
I’m 5 months into my running journey, and some days I can hardly believe this. It’s been inspiring, refreshing, and super hard at times, that’s for sure. What prompted me to begin happened on a whim… Back in February I was out with the kids and our dog, and I realized if wore my workout clothes for our daily 45-minute neighborhood walks I’d enjoy the walks a whole lot more. You know the feeling, right? You’re out with your young kids, perhaps you have a dog, you’re wearing your favorite pair of skinny jeans, but it doesn’t take much to feel flustered over the whole darn walk because all you can think about is how hot & uncomfortable you are! (And this was supposed to be a fun walk for everyone.)
The next day I switched my outfit and wore my workout clothes — something stretchy that would allow me to move more comfortably, plus a pair of running shoes — and off we went. Suddenly I had the idea to jog, so I picked up my pace and jogged the length of two apartment buildings. I walked a bit more, then jogged for another thirty seconds. I was suddenly searching for “landmarks” to either walk to or jog to, and I repeated this process for about 45 minutes. I had the double stroller and our dog, but oddly it didn’t feel all that difficult. When we arrived back to our apartment I felt so good! Like, so amazingly good. I had been wanting to become a healthier version of myself, but until that in February I wasn’t sure how to fit working out into our family’s routine.
I want to write a moment on how overwhelming it can feel as a new mom to workout, especially if you have more than one child. I wasn’t “new” at my mamahood (although there are days when I feel very, very new), but I had a new baby. Getting outside to workout with our children was overwhelmingly difficult for me for months. Many times I texted and called my girlfriends asking for advice, and I learned the best thing I could do for myself was continue to try finding a solution. Because eventually it came, and eventually it will come for you, too.
When I started running Natalie was not quite 4 months old and Max was about 23 months old. Bauer always came with us (his life goal is to never stop running/moving!) and I had a staircase to navigate, alongside a small bag of baby/toddler essentials, water, and getting our double stroller down to the ground level. All of this felt impossible, but I kept trying new solutions and reminding myself that many other mamas have succeeded at this very same thing :)
Fast forward to two: almost every weekday I run with the kids and Bauer. Right now my two exceptions are Monday’s when I work and Tuesday’s when we go to the beach, although I usually get in some sort of long walk both days. I was accepted into Britax’s blogger program before Natalie was born, and I run with their B-Ready stroller. We have used it for nearly 9 months now, it’s gone to the beach with us, walks around our neighborhood, multiple mile runs, and on road trips, and it’s a trooper. The frame is durable and not too heavy, although once both toddler seats are clicked in place it does feel a bit heavier. But, this is to be expected — it’s a double stroller!
On the weekends I try to run on Saturday or Sunday, but without the kids or dog. These are sort of my “let’s see how much progress you’ve made during the weekday” day — I try to run the entire 3.88 mile loop and I definitely compete against myself to set a new minute/mile pace at least once per month ;) It’s a fun challenge. Comparing the last 30 days, my last solo run minutes/mile paces have been 15:25, 13:19, 12:34, 13:54, 13:08, 13:33, 15:08 and 13:45.
For my workout clothes I alternate between capris and shorts; tank tops, t-shirts, and long sleeve shirts, depending on the weather. I always wear my Asics, my Fitbit, and use the MapMyRun iPhone app. About a month ago I bought a wristband for my Fitbit Zip, and it’s been perfect. I don’t always have a pocket for my Fitbit, and wearing it clipped to my pants or bra has been (oddly) a little inconvenient. Having a wristband has been a “two thumbs up” experience for me :)
Running has become a huge part of my life — if I don’t make it out on a run I definitely notice a change in my patience and energy levels, so I wanted to answer a few common questions I’ve received through social media or email.
I just started running but I hate it. Any tips on how to love it more? Try alternating walking with jogging, then over the next month set a goal towards running more often and for longer splits. Having a great pair of running shoes is also important! Think about why you don’t enjoy running and try to pinpoint the source of your frustration. Do you need a better pair of shorts or a sports bra? Are you going for a run at the wrong time of day? Do you feel rushed to get in “a good workout”? I would definitely give it a solid month before giving up. Write down three things you hope to accomplish through running/working out and then review your list after 30 days. Don’t give up just yet :)
You definitely inspired me to get moving! While I am not running, I am walking, and it feels so good! So proud! You can definitely accomplish your fitness goals through walking! I actually look forward to the days I walk more instead of run. It’s so therapeutic (and a great time to listen to your favorite podcasts or audio books).
How do you keep your kiddos entertained on your runs? I recently started walking in my neighborhood with my double stroller and my kids look so bored by the end, even when they have toys/snacks/drinks. Is it bad I have never even thought to bring snacks with me, unless we’re going to the park to play? I usually bring a water bottle for myself and Max, but I don’t typically bring something for him to eat to help pass the time. Instead, I talk to him about what we see. We walk through residential neighborhoods and a quaint downtown area, so there is always something being built or repaired, fire trucks driving by, bicyclists, dogs, other kids, trees, mailboxes, flags, etc., and we talk about all of these things. Some days I put in my ear buds and listen to a podcast or music, which I don’t feel guilty about doing. I want my children to learn how to enjoy their surroundings and be observant independently, as well as engage in conversation with me. So, I try to mix things up for Max. (Natalie usually takes her morning nap in the stroller, so she’s almost always asleep while we’re gone.) Of course, this isn’t to say Max doesn’t cry when he’s in the stroller — usually every day he has a toddler moment where he whines or cries over [X], I think this is normal and I always address the situation, then refocus on my run. He always bounces back quickly. Most days we stop by the water fountain or the park so Max can get out to play. Or, I have him walk alongside me and pick up little bits of nature (sticks, leaves, rocks). And may I add: he is never bored. Max is used to being in the stroller for a daily walk, it’s something we’ve done since he was a baby. Now that he’s almost 2-1/2 I explain to him I’m doing my workout so I can be his healthy and strong mommy. I think consistency has definitely worked in our favor here, and it most likely work in yours. Is there a library or other city landmark you can stop at to break up the time? You could also bring a couple books for your children to look at, too :)
I am on week 3 of running. I am ready to quit because I don’t feel any better or stronger. Oh friend, don’t get up just yet! There are so many factors that could be slowing down any progress — the most common factor being time. I think you should give it 3 more weeks at least and then reevaluate where you’re at. Also related to time, how many minutes are you running for and how frequently each week? Do you do accomplish more through setting goals? Through having an accountability partner? Next time you’re out, think about how you feel that very moment. What areas of your body do you want to improve, if only your per mile pace? Keep that in mind the next time you’re out for a run. You can do it :)
Do you run the whole time? No, at least not at first. When I began in mid-February I definitely walked more than I ran, and since then I’ve been working towards being able to run for about 17 minutes straight with about a 1 minute walking break in the middle. I have noticed though that it takes me 1.5-2 miles to really pick up momentum. Once I hit 2 miles I feel like I could run forever — it’s such an amazing feeling!
Have you found a nursing-friendly sports bra? I have not! But if you have, I’d love for you to share a link :)
How do you incorporate running into your daily routine with Max and Natalie? My suggestion is to simply get started right away. Regardless of how old your children are now, just start (especially if you need to bring them with you while you workout). I could get up really early and run alone while Zack is still home in the mornings, but I don’t do this for three reasons. The first is I really enjoy our morning time together as a family. Secondly, I don’t want to get up early to workout (#honestyisbest). And thirdly, bringing the kids with me allows them to have time outside where they can play and learn. It’s a double bonus that I can also workout during that time. Once my run is over it’s nearly lunch and nap time, and suddenly it’s nearing 3pm. This schedule has made our days at home go by quickly with lots of fun. In the afternoons we alternate between playing at home or heading out for errands, play dates, or visits to the park/library.
When (and how) do you shower with two littles at home with you? Very fast and very quickly ;) Of course you’ll need to make a plan that is safe for the ages of your children, but here is what I did/do: when Natalie was younger I’d set her in her bouncer and then bring Max into the bathroom with me. Now that she is older I usually place her in her jumperoo and have Max watch a little show on TV while I shower. I keep the bathroom door open and try to avoid anything other than a quick shampoo/condition and body wash. Because we leave right after breakfast (around 9am) we are usually back home around 10:30am/11am, which gives me enough time to shower and get dressed before starting lunch. Having showered prior to lunch starting is so helpful for the rest of the day to be “on track”. Once they’re done with lunch they go straight to bed for naps, which gives me about 2 hours of dedicated work time (either on my blog or shop).
Do you find that you eat more when you are running? That has been an issue for me when I’m working out super hard – I eat more and then it hinders my weight loss. How do you keep this from happening? Oh, I definitely eat more! I’m also nursing a 9 month old, so it’s like I’m being hit on both ends of the spectrum. A few suggestions… try modifying your workout so you are burning more calories (running up a hill or steps, running longer durations) and/or increase your protein & vegetable intake. Of course the more you workout the more “fuel” you’re going to burn through, so the trick is eating the right kinds of foods so you give your body the best kind of fuel. Don’t over eat. Don’t snack. Don’t eat a lot of sugar or carbs, our bodies disagree with these types of foods. I’d also suggest seeing a personal trainer or nutritionist for even more advice, a single session could be exactly what you’re looking for :)
How do you keep your kids cool in the heat? Thankfully our stroller offers awesome sun protection. The top seat, which Max sits in, has a really long umbrella overhang. The bottom seat, for Natalie, has a smaller umbrella overhang but is highly shaded from the top seat. I also try to run in the morning (finished by 11am), and since they’re sitting still they’re (hopefully) not exerting too much energy. Does your stroller offer add-ons? Could you modify your umbrella?
How do you manage running when you don’t take the kids with you? I run when Zack is home, either in the early (early!) morning before he goes to work or on the weekends when he isn’t working. I don’t typically run at night since he isn’t home before dusk. Another idea for you to try would be a babysitting swap with a friend. You watch her kids while she works out, and then she returns the favor for you to work out.
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I’d love to keep the conversation going in the comments. Please let me know if I missed anything or can elaborate on a topic listed above. Follow my running journey on Instagram by searching #watchMaggierun and share your workout progress by using #girlgetupandRUN.
You can do great things, the secret is to just start!