I started running regularly after my first son was born seven years ago. It seemed a good way to kick off the pregnancy weight and I thought I needed a new challenge–because, you know, newfound motherhood hadn’t rocked my world hard enough apparently. I’m no expert, but I’ve picked up a trick or two over time, particularly as jogging relates to juggling children. Here are some tips that keep me in the jogging game despite the time and energy that my four small boys require:
1. Invest in a jogging stroller.
If you have small children that you can’t seem to get away from, bring them along. After lots of research, we decided to spring for the Double BOB stroller. Fortunately, we found a used one on Craigslist to help us swallow the price, and it has been well worth our money. Between walking, jogging, just getting around, I use mine at least five times a week. The all-terrain wheels are great if we decide to go hiking, and even though it’s side-by-side, I’ve never met a doorway I couldn’t get through. If your baby is old enough to bring along in a jogging stroller (experts recommend six months, as neck muscles have typically strengthened appropriately by then), just load him in and go.
2. Race as a family.
Like I always say, the family that races together eats a giant breakfast together afterward! My husband and I love entering 5K races. Running in races gives us a sense of belonging, adrenaline, and accomplishment. Instilling this race culture within our children is also important to us. Sometimes we ask a family member or friend to watch our littles at the race so they can be in the atmosphere, and sometimes we bring them along in the race with us.
Many 5K races allow strollers and some even have separate stroller divisions; other races offer one-mile fun-runs that the kids can enter to get the feel and excitement of working hard and crossing a finish line. Don’t be afraid if you have never raced before! Every race is full of first-timers, walkers, and go-getters just like you! Finding races near you is easier than you might think!
3. Get Creative with Your Workouts.
Sometimes I don’t want to drag my boys out in the stroller because it’s rainy or cold. Sometimes I just want the freedom of jogging without pushing 100 pounds on wheels in front of me. If I have the kids and want to jog without them, my solution is simple. Once the baby goes down for a nap, I bring the monitor outside to the sidewalk. My three-year-old comes out and rides his bike, and I run a short path over and over again right outside my house.
Fortunately, I live in a cul-de-sac, and one trip around is a tenth of a mile. So if I decide I want to run two miles that day, then–you guessed it!–I run around my cul-de-sac 20 times. The house is always in my sight, my preschooler can always see me, and I run past the monitor once a minute so I can hear if baby is having a problem. Don’t live in a cul-de-sac? Try to trace a route that is two or three houses down in either direction and just go back and forth.
4. Use Your “Mama Bear” Instincts to Race for a Child.
When you dedicate your races and training goals to people, you keep yourself motivated and you also help somebody else feel special. Through the years I have dedicated race goals to children who have died; sometimes it’s a friend’s child, and sometimes it’s a child whose story I read about. Write the child’s name on your hand for motivation when you run, and send the family the race bibs and medals you collect in their child’s honor!
A great way to show your love in Oklahoma City is to enter a race in the Memorial Marathon (they also offer half-marathon, relay, 5K, and children’s marathon races!) and choose a kiddo that died in the daycare during the bombing. After the race you can tie your race bib onto that child’s chair at the Memorial site; zip-ties are typically provided there for that very reason. If you’ve never seen the Memorial after race day you should check it out. I love seeing the bibs all over the chairs in remembrance.
Mamas, you can achieve your goals with your children in tow! They want the best for you too! You might even create little jogging monsters!