how do you do it? – training for a marathon mom style


“How do you train for a marathon?!” This is a very popular question when people find out I’m a runner who has completed 5 marathons already. The answers are kinda simple. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about how I train with being a full-time employee and mom to four little angels (insert sarcasm here). You can just skip this post if that’s the case, but if not, here’s how I juggle work, family, and running. Hopefully it will give a little insight and possibly help or inspire another mother runner out there (or father runner, too).

  1. I run when I have the opportunity. Does this mean I run exactly when I feel like it? Hell no! Remember the saying, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.”? That totally applies in my case. Knowing I have only a short window of time to complete my run helps drum up some motivation because even a not-so-fabulous run is better than no run at all. Plus, you never know what will happen on race day, so being able to run when you are tired, hungry, stressed, or, heaven forbid, having stomach issues, will only make you stronger.
  2. That being said, I also make time for running because it is a priority to me. I used to feel guilty about saying that, but I don’t anymore. Even moms need something they do that is entirely for themselves. Training takes precious time, so it’s important to make sure you are able to set aside this time, especially for long runs. I don’t know too many people who can run a marathon on a whim, and if you can, I am completely jealous. I usually save long runs for the weekend but have been known to throw it in during the middle of the week if it works best with our family’s schedule. Take last night, for example. We have a busy weekend ahead, so Taco Tuesday became Treadmill Tuesday, and I knocked out a 14-miler after work. It can be done.
  3. I have a treadmill at home and membership to a gym with child care. I know not all moms are fortunate enough to have just one of these resources available to them, so I consider it a blessing to have both. Before you skip past this one, hear me out. My gym membership with the child care is $20 a month. I bought the treadmill secondhand for $150. You can find deals out there that could help you achieve your running goals without breaking the bank. It’s just a matter of looking around.
  4. I take advantage of the local park and streets around my house. Less than a quarter mile away from my house is a community park with a paved .4 mile loop, baseball fields, and playground. It is perfect for us, and the kiddles and I are a fixture there when the weather is nice. They are old enough where I can run loops and keep an eye on them, plus they are out playing. Win-win! I also have a loop with the street parallel to mine. I allow the kids to play in the front year (not near the street), and I run the .7 mile loop, checking up on them with each lap. This year, I also plan to take advantage of the high school track that is a short drive from my house. This should be perfect for speed work.
  5. I enlist the help of family and friends. There are times I have to ask family and friends to help watch the kids for me, so I can get a run in. This usually only happens when it’s long run time. Regardless, I am thankful to have people in my corner who can help me, even if they think running 26.2 miles is bat-shit crazy.
  6. I have realistic goals. The purpose of me running a marathon isn’t to win or qualify for Boston. The closest I will get to Boston, at least at this point in my life, is my Boston Strong Sparkly Soul headband and living vicariously through my speedy friends. I’m running a marathon to prove to myself that I can do it and improve my time. That puts the personal in personal record. I have a fairly lofty goal for my next marathon, the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. I want a sub-4:00 BADLY! Will I be disappointed if I don’t make it? Well, yes, but running that race will also be influenced by so many other factors outside my control (weather, precipitation, stomach issues, injury, etc.). Because of this, I have a B (4:05-4:08) and C (4:10-4:15) goal set for myself. The best way to look at it is I will have a PR of at least 10 minutes with any of those goals. I will continue to remind myself of this during training.

How do YOU train for a marathon? What are your favorite tips?



4 responses »

  1. I think you are amazing for managing to train for a marathon with 4 small kids at home. I have only decided to train for the full this year because my daughter is finally 13 and can stay with my son. I really admire you, and I plan to ask you for lots of advice this year.

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