So, I’m doing my first marathon this October, AND I’m a working mother. I also read a lot, try to maintain a blog (usually pretty inconsistently), go to church every Sunday, and not let my house deteriorate into a festering dirty mess. Oh, and I also try to not be tired and grumpy all day, whenever possible. So, running 20+ miles a week… am I nuts?
Well, maybe. I am just getting started on training, however I’ve been planning ahead a bunch on how to cram it all in there, so I’m a happy person, successful worker, good mother and wife, and don’t live in a festering dirty mess of a home. Challenge: Accepted.
My training pretty much consists of 3 runs during the week and one long run on the weekend. Like my buddy Brandy, I believe in treating workouts as immovable appointments on my calendar. If it’s storming & I can’t run one morning, I’ll have to hit the treadmill at lunch. First rule of marathon training and working: Get it done. Sure, there’ll be the occasional good excuse that makes a weekday run not happen, and I can’t harp on that. But the other 99% of the time, it has to get done.
As I’ve been thinking about how sane I may or may not be to take this on, in addition to the normal responsibilities in working mommas carry, I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply couldn’t train for a marathon without the Holy Trinity of support that exists in my life now: Daycare, Work, Husband.
Daycare: Until last fall, I stayed at home with my daughter and did manage to train for a half marathon when she was 10 months old, though I pushed her in the stroller most weekdays. (Sidenote: Pushing a 2.5 year old is a WORKOUT. Not an option longterm, and I always applaud anyone I see pushing a big kid in a jogging stroller when I’m out running. No really, I hoot & holler for them because that is tough!) She was great in the stroller, but the most I felt comfortable pushing her was 5 miles. Any more than that, the naps were thrown off, or I just plain felt bad about robbing her of active fun she could be having if we weren’t out running all morning. Oh, and it also KILLED me. If I were still at home with her, I suppose to make a marathon training plan work I’d be pushing her on the weekday runs, the longest of which is 10 miles, and I’m just not up for that.
So, for me, daycare is a major, major enabler. Most of my running is early morning these days, and the sharing of the daycare drop offs allows it to work out that she’s not there more than 8 hours. Having that time set aside and being child-free is a gift; I use it to run.
Supportive Husband: My husband’s schedule, flexibility and general supportiveness about my training is also essential. This wouldn’t be possible without sharing the daycare drop offs and pick-ups, unless I wanted to keep her at daycare for 9 or more hours. We schedule ahead of time which days in the coming week he can drop her off, and I’ll schedule my morning runs accordingly. So far (3 weeks in), it’s going great.
On the days when I rise at 5:30 to run, my husband takes her to daycare and I shower at work. I will usually get to my desk before he does (been trying to help him hone his multitasking and “non-negotiating with toddlers” in the morning skills…). I can put in my hours and pick her up at the end of the day. I do get a pang some days when I do get to “sleep in” (today that was 6:30) and then Margo comes in and we can snuggle in bed and I get to do her hair… I miss not seeing her on those mornings. However, I can console myself with the fact that it’s not every day. And time to myself (with my audio book!) on my running mornings is really refreshing too. And being a working mother, we all know that balance is key.
And, though my husband isn’t a runner and never officially signed up to be my “stuff holder” during races (maybe that’s in the “for better or worse” clause of our wedding vows?), he is supportive of my training and racing. And for that I feel lucky.
Work: Work in general helps. I’m going to put this out there: sitting at a computer and doing my job is easier than keeping up with a 2 year old. Emailing people is simpler than talking her down from a tantrum. Managing my own hunger/evacuation process is infinitely easier than managing two (and, perhaps, cleaning up one of them if it’s inefficiently managed. Ahem.) Of course I love my kid and love spending time with her, but working just doesn’t tire me out as much or in the same way as being home with her. So, if I have to run, say 7 miles before work, I can simultaneously recover and get my job done. I’m not sure I could do that at home with her. In fact, on long run days (Saturdays), I’m very much dependent on my husband to pick up the slack for me as I recover. Again.
I know people do train for marathons as stay at home moms, part time working moms and in various childcare and work set ups… and if I ever see them out running on the trails, I’ll give them a big cheer because I’m not that tough! For me, working enables my marathon training. It’s still a huge mental and physical commitment, but I feel that my situation and my “holy trinity” make it possible for me. Now I just have to figure out how to run 26.2 miles…
What makes it possible for you to fit in workouts? What makes it challenging?
Jamie is a writer at a software company. She’s a working mom (after having been a stay-at-home-mom for 21 months) to two and a half year old daughter, Margo. You can find her tweeting a lot at @jamiemcq15 and bloging sometimes at McBlog 2.0.