(Once upon a time the only pictures my boys would take were silly face pictures….)
I have trained for full marathons twice while my girls were infants (Posey was 12 months when I ran my first marathon after having her, Lou was 8 months.) I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I’m here to pass along any tips that might help the moms of tiny ones out there. I compiled ten tips for training with an infant at home.
- Listen to your doctor always! Duh.
- When you start running again, take it slow and steady. Do not do too much too soon. Right after having a baby, your joints are still loose from pregnancy and birth, so be careful. Your health is top priority, training is not, so don’t injure yourself trying to make sure you’re ready for race day. Marathons will always be there. There’s no need to be in a hurry. (Read more about starting out here.)
- Recruit a friend. Friends make everything more fun. And the extra girl time will be good for the soul when you’re used to talking in baby voice all day long.
- Set realistic goals- for training and for the marathon. Just like how it is running your first marathon- sometimes it might not be the finish time or the weekly miles you log that should be the focus, but the shear fact that you are training and running a race after having a baby. That’s a huge accomplishment.
- Do not, do not, do not beat yourself up for missing runs. You will miss training runs. Training and running shouldn’t add stress to your life- this is supposed to be fun, guys! Take a more relaxed approach. Keeping your stress levels low and caring for your family are number one. Your runs should not be.
- Although I am a HUGE advocate of getting your training runs in before the kids wake up, I don’t think this should start until after baby has been sleeping through the night for a few months. I always give my babies 12 weeks to sleep through the night, then I let them cry it out (controversial subject I know, but that’s what I do.) After baby started sleeping straight through the night, I gave myself a few months of good nights of solid sleep before I made the goal of getting up early. It is hard work creating a human plus caring for them day and night- give yourself some rest! Then start getting up early to run when you feel ready (if that’s your goal.)
- Don’t start dieting right away. I know for me, dieting is stressful. The last thing a new mom needs in her life is more stress. So don’t worry about weight loss right away. Give yourself time to adjust to your new normal. Worry about weight loss when you have a grip on the changes. (Read more about my weight loss in this post.)
- If you’re breastfeeding and that’s your top priority, figure out first whether or not training affects your supply before registering/paying for a race. Some moms’ supplies aren’t affected by logging lots of miles, some moms’ supplies are. Either way, hydrate! (Read more about my crappy breastfeeding skills here.)
- This next one isn’t necessarily running related, but be aware that you are wearing pregnancy/new mom goggles when looking at others from afar or on social media or even old pictures of yourself. Pregnancy/new mom goggles can obscure everything, and it can be discouraging. Whether it be running friends getting faster or running races or even non-running friends. Picture this: Your baby is up for the 12th time in the night and you are so exhausted you could cry. You start feeding baby and mindlessly open Instagram. Then you see your friend Alice. Alice is in Hawaii with her husband for their anniversary. Alice looks amazing in her swimsuit. Alice is skinny. Alice is full of energy. Alice has it all. Alice is perfect. Then you see Jen. Jen just ran a half marathon and PR’d and she just keeps getting faster and faster and she looks so fit! Then the tears come because, will I ever get to go to Hawaii? Will I ever be able to wear a swimsuit again? Will I ever be able to run more than a half mile again? Will I ever PR again? I’m here to tell you that you will sleep again. You will lose the weight. You will get speed and endurance. You will get to leave the house one day without your baby. And when that happens, Alice or Jen, or someone like them, will see your photo on social media and have the same reaction. A time and a season for all things, ladies. It is your time to care for the precious little one you’re holding and feeding for the 12th time tonight, and it’ll pass before you know it.
- Make it a team effort. Marathon training is a team effort when you’re a parent, so this is especially true when there’s a new baby involved. I recommend sitting down on Sunday night with your spouse to let him know what days you would like to run that week and how he can help. When I was training with little ones, most runs took place pushing a jogging stroller, at the gym on the treadmill, or at night after Brian got home. My long runs were on Saturdays when he was home. A note about leaving Dad in charge: leave Dad in charge without any nagging or criticizing. Don’t tell him he’s holding the baby wrong, or he’s making the bottle wrong, or he put on the wrong outfit for bedtime. Let Dad and baby make their own routine. Dad is a grown man and I promise that you will come home and everyone will be just fine. He will make his own routine with baby and that’s a special thing. And don’t forget to thank Dad for his help. If you are thankful and grateful, then he will be more than willing to continue helping.
Did I leave anything out? I hope someone out there finds this helpful!!
Are you training for a race with a tiny one? Talk to me about it!! Also, can I babysit? 😉