Now as I am less than one week away from my biggest ultra race ever, CCC in Chamonix France, I am wrapping up some of my most intense, time consuming training. I’ve always gotten comments since I started ultra running about how much time I must spend running and how do I fit it in. However, it seems that lately as word has spread about my big races this year and next, and people are more dumbfounded at how I make all this work. I am a mom to two kids, 9 and 7 years old. I am no elite runner so yes I also work full-time for a living. I am a physical therapist in a hospital. From the outside looking in, I can see how it might seem like I have to make a lot of sacrifices to fit all this in. Let’s take a little peak at how my “time consuming” hobby is not as family time consuming as people might think.
There is no single magic trick to making this work. Kids are ever changing as is my strategy for balancing work, family and running. I didn’t start running until after my first was born and at that time I switched to part-time which made weaving running into my life a little easier. The running stroller was a huge part of our lives until the kids were too big for it. It was awesome for getting miles in while they napped. As they grew, I picked routes that included playgrounds and other places they loved so that we could stop and have fun mid run.
As unpopular as it may be with a lot of runners, the treadmill became one of my best friends for many years. I could get tons of miles done in my own house. One of the greatest things to happen to me was when our TM broke. We ended up getting a Nordic Track incline trainer as our replacement. The incline could go up to 40% and decline down to 6%. It ended up being a fantastic training tool and allowed me to log tons of miles while home with my family. I achieved many of my PRs by training on the TM. Apparently, I must have made it seem like so much fun that my kids wanted to get in on the act too. Our daughter likes to just play around once in a while on it however our son who is very active/athletic trained for a 5K using the TM when he was 7. He doesn’t have as much time for running these days as he’s on multiple baseball teams and plays soccer but he did run the Bolder Boulder 10K last year as well.
So the stroller and TM were great in the past, what about now? Nowadays, I work full-time and the kids have endless activities they need to get to after school. Up until now, I managed to avoid getting up extra early to run before work however if I want to continue my training, it’s what needs to be done. Most mornings I get up at 4. At first it sucked horribly however I have to admit that now I actually love it. I’ve seen more gorgeous sunrises than I can count and it feels amazing to have my workout done before my day starts. And what about weekends? Well there’s many tactics I utilize depending on the family schedule. Sometimes I run to/from soccer or baseball games. There’s been times that I go for a run at a baseball tournament between games. There’s times I suck it up and go out at the crack of dawn to get it done before whatever is going on that day. This year I’ve also added in the run commute. It’s 13.5 miles to my work, roundtrip is a solid training day so that I don’t always have to do long runs on the weekend. Finally, I would be totally remiss, if I didn’t mention how vital having a super supportive husband is to making this all work.
It’s definitely not always easy to train for ultras. Logistically it can be very challenging however being active with the kids at such early ages taught them a lot about the importance of not only health and exercise but also commitment and compromise. They learned how important having dedication is to being good at something. It doesn’t even have to be a sport, it can be anything in life. They never ask me why I have to go for runs all the time instead they ask me when I’m going running and how many miles I am going to do. They realize just as important as their activities are to them, running is important to me and makes me happy. They understand it’s important for all of us to be able to do the things we like. And the best part for me is how they learned to support each other and me in our endeavors. They have come to many of my ultras. They cheer, they crew, run me in/out of aid stations and help me cross that finish line. There’s no better feeling than finishing holding their hands with them beaming up at me with pride. The same way I beam when I watch them play their sports.