a single mom’s marathon mission

I get asked by many people, “How do YOU train for a marathon?!” I’ll let you in on a little secret; I can’t do it alone. I have been lucky enough to complete three marathons since December 2011, and those accomplishments would have been completely impossible if I didn’t have help.

Please note that I don’t have the kids with me 100% of the time. Their dad and I have a shared parenting schedule that allows them to spend time with both of us. It’s a win-win situation – they get time with mom and dad, and I get some time to spend on my own. This makes training so much easier.

I start my marathon training by making a plan for myself. I need to have that visual reminder to keep me on track and to coordinate assistance with the kiddles. My typical schedule consists of 2-3 short runs during the week and a long run on the weekend. To start, I print off a calendar and begin plotting my long runs first. I write the marathon date in and start counting back from there. In the past I have had anywhere from 9 to 15 weeks to devote to training, and I am very excited that I have had more time for the upcoming Cleveland Marathon. I have usually increased by 1.5-2 miles each weekend, and I also allowed myself some extra time in the schedule in case I completely bomb a long run or two (which ALWAYS happens, just part of the training). My short runs during the week are anywhere from 3-5 miles, depending on where I am in my training plan. This schedule has worked well in the past by allowing me enough time to train without getting burned out. I was also very lucky to be injury free for the Columbus Marathon last October, and I think the schedule helped with that.

I rely on two main resources to help me train – the gym and my family. A good number of my runs are done on the treadmill. Not ideal, I know, but I don’t have the luxury of leaving my house whenever I want to get in an outdoor run. I also refuse to pay a babysitter when I already have to pay childcare costs for the gym. I can have the kids in the gym daycare for 90 minutes (used to be 2 hours and free, but we won’t go there). I can get in at least 9 miles during this time if I jump on a treadmill as soon as I close the daycare door. This is great for the beginning portion of my training plan and the work-week runs, but 90 minutes doesn’t cut it when you need to go 20+ miles.

This is where my family enters the picture. My parents live about an hour away from us, but they very graciously support my marathon training and help me with my long runs (thanks, mom and dad!) My mom and I plan which days I need help, and we go from there. The kids and I will either drive to Painesville and stay overnight so I can run during the day or the next morning or my fam comes out to my house and watches the kids while I pound the pavement. Raymond has also helped me when he could, but grad school makes this difficult now. My favorite was the time he got the kids from the gym daycare, entertained them at the gym Christmas party, and then took them back to my house while I cranked out 18 miles on the treadmill. Good stuff.

As I said in the beginning, I would not be able to run if it weren’t for a little help, and I am so thankful for the people who pitch in to make my marathon dreams possible. I think of each and every one of them when I am on the race course. They make sacrifices, just like I do, so I can do something that I love – RUN.  Thanks to all, and let’s get ready for marathon #4!

my little cheerleaders

my little cheerleaders at the columbus marathon

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4 thoughts on “a single mom’s marathon mission

  1. 18 miles on a treadmill!!! That is some determination. I trained for a half last year and thankfully my kiddies are older and stay home or join me. Also, the winter was mild and I was able to run outside for all of my long runs. I am doing the same training plan this winter and I am not looking forward to long runs on the treadmill…

  2. I tried to train for a marathon (and failed miserably) when I was a single mom. Their dad never had visitation, which was a blessing in one aspect, but made things pretty rough otherwise. Our gym had the two hour time limit as well, on top of a 30 minute time limit on the treadmill, and I couldn’t find anything reliable to get those long runs done. Training for a marathon with kids is hard enough; it’s exponentially more difficult when you’re a single parent and have to juggle childcare too. Good for you for committing to it and having a great support system! :)

    • Thanks, Courtney! Yes, it is very difficult, and I feel your pain. My support system is key, and I too would fail miserably without them. But at least you had the courage and determination to try! I hope your running is going well, otherwise :-)

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