Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by the J.M. Smucker company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Prior to having children, I ran road races multiple times per year. After having children, running races each summer and fall went by the wayside. My priorities shifted to being a mom and that is where a majority of my time is focused.
While training for and running races is not a top life priority now, I haven’t completely given up. I still try to run at least one road race per year, unless I am pregnant or have a newborn…so I have skipped a few races over the last 6 years. It’s not easy to fit the race in some years and it can feel like a lot of work, but it is completely worth the time and effort!
Running a marathon was a goal of mine. When our oldest daughter was one, my husband and I decided to train for our first marathon. It is such a time-consuming endeavor! The entire summer of 2012 was spent figuring our training schedules, shuffling our 1-year-old around during long runs, running, eating (so much!), and recovering from the many miles we were running.
It was such a fun summer of training and the marathon was a blast. We were both excited to hit our goal times. While I would not take the time to train for a marathon every year with small children, I am so glad that we decided to make it a priority for one summer.
If you want to train for a marathon or an alternate time-consuming (and bold!) adventure with young children at home, here are a few tips:
Write out a schedule
You cannot fly by the seat of your pants when training for a marathon. There are too many miles that must be fit into a week for that to work, especially when planning the runs around work schedules (my husbands) and a one-year-old. I made a rough 16-week training plan for both of us. We had weekly meetings to figure out when we would get our training runs in. There was no way we would have been able to log the miles and get in the long runs if we didn’t sit down to schedule out our runs each week. (It made me wonder why I didn’t do my first marathon pre-kiddo. It would have been much easier to get all the miles in!)
Find a training or accountability partner
I am so glad that my husband and I decided to train for the same marathon. Yes, it meant that every weekend we BOTH had to get our long runs in. If we both had to run 20+ miles at separate times in the day, that would take up much of our day! (We would then be completely wiped out for the remaining time.)
It was so helpful to have a training partner. We did a few runs together when it worked out to have someone watch our daughter. It was also nice to train for the same race as much of our daily conversation was around our running schedule, training runs, goal paces, rest, aches and pains, injuries, what we were eating, and everything else running related. If only one of us had been training, all the running talk might have gotten old for the non-running partner.
It also held us accountable as we had to do many of our runs early in the morning. Accountability is so helpful!
Training for a marathon is hard work and time-consuming. While I enjoyed it, I am not going to say that it was always easy to do with a child at home. If she was awake at night, it was hard to force myself to get up early to run. It was also hard to have the energy to be a fun mom after running a long run. I just wanted to take a nap! It’s only because I was committed to the marathon and had a goal time in mind that kept me going.
Enlist in help
It was nice to schedule a few of our long runs when grandparents could watch our daughter. It was so helpful! It made our long runs more enjoyable because my husband and I could run a portion of it together…until he decided to take off at a quicker pace. It also took much less time to get our long runs in when we could do them at the same time.
Use your morning time wisely
We could not have completed our training schedule without using the morning time. We often switched off on who would run in the morning and who would run in the evening. When running for fun instead of actual marathon training, it would be fine to just roll out of bed and be out the door in just a few minutes. That doesn’t work so well when you have training goals and need to get a solid run completed in the morning!
If I had more than just a slow recovery run planned, I had to get up in plenty of time to wake up and enjoy coffee and breakfast. Enjoying the morning quiet with my coffee was the perfect way to start my morning prior to tying on my running shoes to get outside.
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Regardless of whether or not I am training for a running race, my morning time with a mug of coffee is one of my favorite parts of my day!
Wow great tips!
Suzanne Hines says
One of my life goals was to run a marathon. My husband and I decided it would be easier to do BEFORE kids and therefore made it our goal to complete a marathon before trying for kids. I ran my 26.2 miles of hell on earth and exactly one month later was pregnant with our beautiful daughter! Haha! I would really like to pick back up and start running again. I have signed up for a half and then wasn’t able to complete it because I was pregnant (it wasn’t the pregnancy that stopped the training, it was the morning sickness- UGH!). I’m due in just a few weeks with baby #2 and I’m hoping to get a Spring half on my list!
Yeah…26.2 is not easy! Sorry it was so rough for you!
What spring half are you looking to do?
Maria Bowersock says
What a practical and helpful post! And the coffee tip is a two thumbs up ;)
This is so awesome, great tips! While I’m no where near ready to run a marathon, I’d love to be able to do a 10k or even half marathon some day. I’ve just started with 5ks for now ;)
5Ks are a fun distance too!
Really great tips here! You can do anything with kids if you put your mind to it!
beth kelley says
great post. Finding time do train when you have young children is difficult. Congrats to you.
Stephanie Cox says
I am working on getting more and more miles in and now that my little guy is in school, I can do that because he is in class 3 days a week giving me more time to run.
I bet it feels nice to get out for a run when he is in school!
Alyssa J Howard says
I’ve never trained for a full marathon but I did train for a half with a 6-month old and a 2-year-old. :) It was definitely hard sometimes, but it was so worth it!
Nice job completing a half marathon with TWO kiddos! I haven’t run that distance, but would love to some day.
Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner says
It’s definitely challenging fitting it all in when you have little kids. Great tips!
What dedication! I’ve always wondered how one trains for a marathon, especially with kids. Coffee is definately a morning must!
Marathon or not…coffee is definitely a morning must. ;)
Great advice! And I agree about the coffee :)
It’s been quite a while since the original post so I’m wondering if you have done more races since then. I have a 2 year old and want to run a race with him. Have you ever taken your children with you on a race? I am planning on starting to race, but I have never done it even before children. I want to take my son with me and have him in a stroller possibly letting him out for part of it and walking with him or jogging with him for a short period. So you have any suggestions? Like what length would be best to start with it any other advice. Thanks 😄
Good for you for wanting to do a race! They are fun and it can get addicting. :)
I have done one more race since I wrote this post, but I have never taken my children with me while I race. I raced quite often before having kids and have always enjoyed focusing on my pace, but that is just me. So while I may run while pushing my children in the stroller, I save that for training days and not races.
I would think that a 5K would be a good distance for your first race? Just make sure that the race allows strollers as some do not. You should be able to find that info online when you are signing up. Some races also have a separate children’s run (usually just a quick dash), so you could always try that for him when he is a little older. I haven’t tried one with my kids, but would love to someday!