Busy moms can train to run a race!
I did it! I completed my half marathon this past Saturday. It was fun! I felt great! I got my best time for 13.1 miles too. A few months ago, when I was at the beginning of this journey I shared with you how I made the fitness goal to complete a half marathon. You can check that post out here.
I’m here to report that even with an injury, 3 kids home from school, and hot and rainy weather I was able to do it. Here is the lowdown from start to finish of my experience. It was enjoyable yet hard, hectic but doable. Through it all I learned a lot and am sharing my busy mom on the run training tips.
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Are you wanting to train for something? It doesn’t have to be a half marathon. That was my personal goal. What is your goal? Make it personal and something that motivates you. Want to do a couch to 5k? Or simply get in the habit for walking 20 minutes 3 times a week? What ever it is, get yourself ready by thinking about what you want to do.
Once you have your activity figured out time to get things ready. I readied myself in the following ways:
Share your idea with others
I talked to my spouse about it. I told him I wanted to do a half marathon, and that would mean needing to schedule long runs and be away from home. He got on board with me and said he would take care of things while I was out running. Telling him also helped me be accountable to someone. He made sure I was going to follow through on my word. Share your goal with someone who will encourage you and check-in with you during your training.
I also posted my goal on Facebook. Since it was public information I didn’t want to look like a quitter and not run. The cat was out of the bag and many people knew of my intentions.
Register for an Event
Find something to sign-up for. There are so many choices, fun runs, charity walks, obstacle courses, and of course half marathons. Having an event that’s scheduled and paid for is a big motivator. Having an event gives you date and endpoint to work towards. Spending money on something keeps you going because you don’t want to waste money by not participating in the event.
Now that you have your goal in mind, event shared and scheduled it’s time to get set to get moving. You don’t need much equipment to run or walk. A good pair of shoes and a training schedule is all you need really.
Shoes can be expensive. At the same time you don’t want to get a cheap pair. From personal experience you are more prone to injury with generic brand shoes (think “athletic” type shoes from non-athletic discount stores.) Cheaper shoes also wear out sooner so you probably would need to replace them more than an expensive shoe. Get something that will keep you in good form and not fall apart.
There are ways to save money on name brand shoes. I went to an athletic store and tried on several running shoes to get a good idea on fit. Make sure you’re getting the right type of shoe for your activity. For example, walking shoes don’t work for running. The stores usually categorize footwear by sport.
If you’re not sure of what brand to look for do some research. There are tons of reviews on running shoes. At the same time try not to get too overwhelmed with all of the info because the right shoe for you also depends on how it fits. Make a general list of recommended makes and try those on. Stick with the ones that feel best on your foot.
Personally I have mostly worn Nike shoes over the years. They fit my narrow foot and have held up nicely through track and cross-country seasons, as well as past half marathon training sessions. This time around I wore Nike Air Max and they were great.
Ok back to getting shoes. Again try the shoes on at the store but don’t buy them there. Why? You can usually get them cheaper online. A lot of last years models are sold at major discount on places like Amazon. Older versions of the shoe are the same as current ones in the store, it’s usually the cosmetic design that is different.
I found my shoes for about $30 less than the store:
Other Running Shoes I had in the past that I like include:
It’s good to follow a training schedule to ensure you are running or walking enough to be prepared for your event. The schedules help you build endurance so you can handle the mileage on race day. I know people who tried to run on their own and either over did it with training and got injured or they were under prepared and couldn’t complete their event. People who create these regimens are experts and know what they are talking about. Take out the guess-work and follow their advice.
There are a lot of free training schedules out there. I followed this one:
I love this web-site because there are training plans for all fitness levels. Not only are there plans for a half marathon you can find plans for full marathon, walking, 5k and 10k races. I mostly followed the run/walk half marathon plan.
Other Things to Get Set
If you don’t have these things on hand you want to make sure you have weather appropriate workout clothes like sports bras, leggings, shorts, tanks, shirts, or hoodies. Wal-mart, Target, and Old Navy have a great selection of workout wear.
If you like to listen to music earbuds plugged into your phone is good option to keep you going on your runs or walks. I have Pandora on my phone and listened to the “Running Music” station.
If you don’t have a fitness watch you can simply download Map My Run app on your phone to track your time and mileage. I used that app and liked to keep track of my routes so I knew where to run on certain mileage days.
Find a friend to join you on your venture. It’s always fun to workout with someone. If you can’t find a recruit look for running/walking groups in your area. I joined a local “Mothers Run This Town” group on Facebook. They have many chapters through out the country. It was a great group to be a part of, I met several new running moms in my area. Even though we were strangers, everyone was very supportive and eager to meetup to run. It’s also a great resource to learn running and walking tips.
Okay, you have your event, shoes and training schedule. Time to be a busy mom on the run!
My training plan was 12 weeks long so I counted 12 weeks back from my event to know when to start. My first week started off strong. Then some bumps in the road got in the way. Here are some tips to help you get through any hiccups so you can keep going.
At the start of my 2nd week I started to get shooting pains down my quads. It stopped me in my tracks and I seriously could not run. Walking didn’t hurt. It turned out my periformis was aggravated. I couldn’t run, but I could walk. There were also a series of stretches I could follow to help heal my injured area.
I had started following the run only plan but dropped down to the half marathon walking plan while I worked on healing and stretching. I could still stay on track but not be so hard on my body. After two weeks following the walking plan I built up to the walk/run option for one week. Then I moved up to the run/walk plan.
Easing up on my runs and not pushing myself helped me not get injured further. If you are feeling weird aches and pains listen to your body and take it easy. Continuing to run through the pain may lead to worse injuries. It doesn’t hurt to get checked out by a doctor if you’re not sure what to do and listen to their advice. If you’re told not to run then don’t.
Taking a few days off to rest and ice won’t ruin your training. These plans are designed to help you slowly build endurance so you can get caught up if you need to take some time off.
That’s why I liked following Jenny Hadfield’s plan, she had a training plan for every fitness level, it’s easy to drop down or move-up as your body allows.
You never know what you’re going to get with the weather when you have to exercise outside. Summers in Wisconsin are hot and humid, and of course there are always chances of rain and thunder.
To avoid running in the heat I got up early to run in the morning. I actually found I loved getting up early to get my workout done for the day. The kids were still sleeping and I didn’t have to juggle fitting in a run with their schedules. There were times I couldn’t get up early so I’d save my training for close to sunset when it’s a little bit cooler.
It’s important to stay hydrated in the heat. On my long run days I’d wear a camel pack to have water on me. One time, when we were out of town, I forgot my water pack so I dropped off water bottles along my route (via car) before my run.
This summer turned out to be a rainy one. I found myself following the forecast a lot more. If I was supposed to run but it was storming out I would swap days on my plan. I would cross train indoors on rainy days and run the next day if it was nicer.
It is possible to train while traveling, for the most part. We were on vacation for a week. I did try to get out and run at least 4 of the 7 days we were gone but I didn’t worry about following my plan to a “T.” I just went into maintenance mode and ran for 30 minutes and saved my long run for when we got back home.
If you find yourself traveling or being very busy do what you can for that week but know you won’t lose everything if you ease up on training either.
When you get up in mileage know your runs will take a while. Most of the time long runs take place on the weekends. I gave myself the freedom to do the long runs on either Sat. or Sun. depending on what my schedule allowed. Most weeks it worked out for me get up early on Sat. morning. I liked that because I was done and Sunday was a rest day. There were weekends when I had to rest on Sat. and run Sunday evening.
The day before my long runs I made sure to keep myself hydrated, eat well, and get plenty of sleep. There were nights when my toddler kept me up so I got rotten sleep. I still got up to run though instead of sleeping in. They say “suck it up buttercup” in running and that is what I did. I actually found running on little sleep helped me feel empowered to conquer anything.
I did most of my weekday runs on my own but found others to run with on the long run days. I found my tribe through the Mother’s Run This Town group. I loved meeting other ladies and it helped the long runs feel less lonely. Making plans to meet others also held me accountable to show-up when I was tempted to put off running.
Notes on Following My Training Plan
As I mentioned earlier I had a set back due to injury and had to walk for a few weeks before building up to running. By week 4 I was following the run/walk option for the half marathon training plan. The run/walk intervals had me run 4 minutes/walk 1 minute or run 3 minutes/walk 2 minutes mostly. Certain days involved following that pattern for 30 minutes and building up to 55 minutes.
I found I really liked the run/walk training. In past half marathons I’d always be tempted to walk and honestly hated having to run. If I ended up walking I felt like a loser because I didn’t run the whole way. This interval training freed me from resenting running and feeling guilty for walking. I also think this helped me not end up with other injuries. I always felt great after my run/walks and never felt fatigued or achey.
Surprisingly I found I was able to run the entire time during my long runs. Running with other people on my long run days helped me pace myself nicely so I knew I was in good shape. I also got my best mileage time.
If you are going to train for a half marathon I highly recommend the run/walk plan.
The actual race was a lot of fun. Having done 2 other half marathons and knowing what they were like I wasn’t placing any expectations on this event. My other races were unremarkable. Some parts were good, other parts were tough. I didn’t get the best time and I was happy to be done. I also took several months off of running afterward.
Going into the starting line this time around I felt good. I had gotten good sleep. I dressed appropriately for the humid weather. I brought along my music and earbuds for a security blanket. I met a fellow runner from my group to start out with.
The half marathon was filled with a lot of encouraging onlookers. The water stations had fun themes and participants. The course was very scenic. I felt very prepared and was amazed at how fast it was all going. There were times when I got tired but after slowing down to drink water at each aid station I was ready to keep going. My body was ready to be done when I crossed the finish line, but I wasn’t exhausted. I was tired, but it felt exhilarating too.
I felt very accomplished, especially after seeing I made a personal best with my time.
I will enjoy my time of rest and not having to follow a training plan, but I look forward to the idea of completing another half.
Through injury, fitting workouts in with kids home and in between hot and stormy weather, I was a busy mom on the run. If I can do it I know you to can be a busy mom on the run if you follow these training tips.