Balancing Running and Mothering without Losing Your Mind
Running and motherhood are two wonderful passions of mine. I remember when I got pregnant with Niah and I faced so many unknowns. Motherhood is like, woah. So many uncertainties and so many decisions. One of those uncertainties that I had to wrestle with was my running. Running is so much more than a hobby to me, it is a lifestyle and passion, a calling, and now career of mine (I just started run coaching, if you missed the memo!)
So, as I walked through pregnancy and my miles were shorter and my running felt stranger, I wondered ‘what if I won’t be able to run normal again.’ Although I did expect to be able to return to running and I dreamed of coming back even stronger, I was uncertain of what the future would hold for me. I did return to running and I was able to come back stronger, however, my marathon training was filled with a lot of unknowns. Like, ‘will Benaiah nap so I can run?’ or ‘is it too hot to run outside with Benaiah?’ or ‘Will I get enough sleep tonight to actually get out the door?’ And all of these unknowns taught me so much about motherhood and running and how to balance the two. I hear a lot of women saying that once they have babies, ‘life is over.’ But I want to kindly suggest, that life is just beginning.
Yes, having babies and raising little tiny humans is a hard job and often times, more demanding than I anticipated. But, as I lean on Christ’s strength and rest in His goodness, I realize, once again, how fruitful and rich the calling of motherhood is. The more I learn about motherhood, the more I realize so much of how we raise our babies is by example. And this is where I bring in running. This is my conviction, but I want to raise Benaiah (and future kiddos) with first and foremost an example of loving Jesus above all. Another example I want to impress upon my children is the beauty of doing hard things, chasing after goals, and being a good steward of the body God has given me (and them.)
And this is where that balancing piece comes in. I will be the first to admit, when I am chasing after a goal (whether is be life goal, business goal, or running) I can laser in and lose focus on what is most important (i.e. Jesus and family). So, the one pitfall I’ve learned to avoid is becoming too obsessed with my running and fitness.
A couple ways I evaluate my heart attitude is by asking myself a few questions
- If my run had to either be pushed back or dropped today because of my child would that ruin my day or my attitude?
- Am I willing to give up a run for my family, if I need to?
Depending on how I answer these questions, I can evaluate my heart attitude and move on from there. So, as we (I) avoid this pitfall of becoming obsessive, I also want to prioritize running in it’s proper place, because (for me) it is not only good for my physical health, but also for my mental health. I KNOW that running makes me feel better, brings life to my days, gives me that amazing endorphin high, and is my passion. So, knowing how this running helps me be a better mother, I should prioritize it.
This is where the true balancing comes in…I’ve found that there is nothing predictable in motherhood, but if you can have a semi-normal routine, it is a total game changer for my running!
A few practical ways this looks like for me are
- Getting my runs in early. Motherhood means sacrifices and for me, that means sacrificing a little sleep, so I can get my miles in. I have a treadmill (which is a huge plus) but often times, in the summer, I can sneak out early (think 5 or 6) and it is already light out! If you can, I encourage my mama runners to get out the door early and start the day feeling fresh and ready to tackle whatever the day has in store!
- If early morning running isn’t possible, I will either A: try to get my run in while Benaiah eats breakfast (I am on the treadmill and he is next to me) or B: run while he naps or C: run while he plays in his pack and play next me to or D: run with the stroller. All of these work well, but I’ve found that running with the stroller is my favorite. I love including him during the run and seeing his little face light up.
Honestly, running and training for marathons would be so much easier without kids, but I truly think that having Benaiah with me on 78% of my training runs made is SO much more special.
Yes, running and balancing motherhood is challenging, not every run goes as planned and sometimes I have to cut runs short. BUT, I really believe that the benefits and the memories far surpass the effort it takes to juggle both. I am so thankful to share my passion with Benaiah and I hope he learns through my many flawed examples, how to dream and chase after goals and do hard things. I am so excited to cheer for him at his first race and watch him cross the finish line with the same joy and excitement I feel each time I cross a finish line. I know that time is a long way off and I don’t want to rush it, but when I think about running and mothering with a big picture perspective, everything sort of falls into place.
So here’s to interrupted treadmill runs and countless stroller miles. Here’s to early morning and late night runs and inconvenient race training. Here’s to the victories and the memories and all the the effort. Here’s to both mothering and running and dreaming and doing. Here’s to you, mama. Go get em.
- How do you balance motherhood and running?
- What is your favorite place to run?
- Are your children good sleepers?