How do you get your training in?!
This one I’ve been asked over and over and the wide eyes get wider with each baby that we have – minds seem to boggle when I say that I’ve started training for my next ultra marathon. Some people can’t fathom doing what I do but I can’t fathom not doing it!
In order to properly answer this question I need to rewind time…it’s 2010 and I’ve just started getting into running [sorry but for me playing sports as a kid and through college is a totally different ball game in comparison to running as an adult especially and adult with kids; plus I really didn’t consider myself a runner back then] and am signed up for my first marathon…if you browse back to 2010 you’ll come across some funny posts about my training experiences in those days. Back then I had a fairly strict training plan and followed what was in The Complete Book of Running for Women by Claire Kowalchik. For the majority of my training it was just me; what I mean by that is – Troy was gone at basic training and then to his advanced training so aside from family occasionally visiting and friends helping out here and there to watch Sophia and Tedy while I ran it was mostly me pushing my double bob jog stroller; often with our dog Toby in tow as well. I was spoiled with lots of great running paths throughout Williamsburg, Virginia and multiple trips up to NOVA to visit my sister. In those days training was simple but strict – I used to beat myself up if I missed a workout! When Troy was home and before we moved to Georgia we still ran as a pack and I would occasionally go for long runs down the colonial parkway by myself.
When we moved to Georgia I was very depressed and used running as a stress release. Since I had two kiddos and a double jogging stroller things were still fairly easy because if I couldn’t go out on my own I would just put Sophia and Tedy into the stroller and go. Downside was that no matter how much you ran around Fort Stewart you never seemed to get anywhere – people who live there know exactly what I’m talking about. Yet as Sophia got older she protested sitting in the jog stroller more and more so I had to adjust plus I was now pregnant with out third child. During my pregnancy with Ceci I ran a ton! At first I was still following the training plans in the Kowalchik book but then when my friend Lisa and I started training for the Tybee Run Fest we realized that we needed to adjust a bit more and our workouts then revolved around our kiddos. For this marathon training we would take turns watching the kids and going for runs, we’d occasionally get some long runs in on our own (if we were lucky) but honestly the vast majority of our training came from playground workouts. These workouts were no joke though – as the kiddos played we would run laps around the playground and we incorporated workouts where we’d do things such as tricep dips using the park bench, resistance bands hooked up to the monkey bars, pull-ups on the monkey bars, etc…our mileage was lower but our workouts were very purposeful and the kids loved it too because they got to play together. We would also go to the track because the kids could play in the infield area – we would bring sand toys for the sand pits [the jump pits weren’t used at this track]. We would also run bleachers and do other workouts besides laps around the track – honestly that gets boring quick!
After Ceci was born I was training for my next marathon but now I had 3 kiddos to manage which makes things a little bit harder. At first we had another jog stroller but it didn’t work out so well and we got rid of it. Now my runs became about how much time I had and finding/making time for them; I would get in short runs in the time frame from when Troy would be home from PT/before he went in for work. I continued playground workouts and track workouts and would get my “long runs” in on the weekends when Troy was home.
When Troy deployed I had to join the Y because I needed child care and I needed a pool. I still continued my track and playground workouts because the kids enjoyed those as well.
When I was pregnant with Mikey I ran even more than when pregnant with Ceci. I raced a ton [still need to finish that blog post sorry] and completed my first 50K when 15 weeks preggo with Mikey. 50K – 31 miles – that’s another level of running compared to the 5/10k world and even the half and full marathon world. I was nervous at first but confident in my training and am still proud of myself for completing that event. It wasn’t easy and at those distances the toughest training isn’t physical it’s mental! Honestly most of running is mental. You can get in all the miles and workouts you want but if you aren’t mentally prepared then forget it.
I learned a ton about myself in between my pregnancy with Ceci and my pregnancy with Mikey. I read a bunch of books about running and attended various running clinics and started watching YouTube videos about running…I learned that yes you do have to have a training plan but that it needs to be flexible and realistic. Want to know my set schedule now a days?! RUN! That’s it! I do drills more than ever before; sometimes a workout for me is nothing more than 20 minutes of form drills. I sprinkle in sprint workouts, I Fartlek more than before – it’s fun! Oh and don’t forget those slow and steady long runs. One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the years is to vary your speed and your distance. Also vary your course – you will get stuck in a rut if you’re doing the same things over and over again!
As for other training plans and books I’ve added Bart Yasso’s 800s to the marathon training list. Recently I’ve added Train Like a Mother to my to read list. Like I said I don’t have a specific set training plan anymore but I do read stuff all of the time and it helps me figure out what workouts I want to do and when pretty much based on how I feel or what time frame I have to work with etc. I have 4 kids now my runs are going to need to adjust again. I’ve run on my own, with one kiddo in our new single jogger, with two kiddos in our double bob, at the track with our whole family, hills in the backyard…I do what I can when I can and it works. The key is that after pouring over training plans you have to come up with one just for you. Like everything else in parenting you have to do what works best for you and your family! Once you’ve come up with your game plan remember to be flexible. I used to beat myself up over not getting a very specific run in; now I’ve learned that hey a mile is a mile and I did what I had to and it’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up – yes you have to work – yes some days it’s going to be hard but it’ll be worth it in the “long run” 😉 and most importantly remember to HAVE FUN!!