Dear Marathon Mom,
I am a first time mom to a 6-month-old girl. I keep seeing moms out jogging with their kids in the stroller, and my curiosity is getting the better of me. I really want to try it out – it actually looks fun. I even have a neighbor with older kids who said I could borrow his jogging stroller any time. There’s just one catch – I’m not a runner. I never ran regularly before, and I’m not sure where to begin. Any advice is welcomed.
Beginner Running Mom
Dear Beginner Running Mom,
How awesome that you want to take up running – welcome to a community of inspiring people! Also, let me just say, you have an incredibly nice neighbor; those jogging strollers aren’t cheap. Bake that man some cookies pronto!
Borrowing a stroller – at least for the first month – is a wonderful way to try out running with your daughter. That way, you’re not hundreds of dollars in the hole only to find out you don’t like running. That being said, please note that running with a stroller is physically harder than running alone. I’m not trying to talk you out of it – I love running with my kids in the stroller! – I just want you to set your expectations realistically. It will be hard at first; you’ll be sore; but hopefully, you’ll also feel healthy, energized, and motivated by the end of each run.
At six months, your daughter will likely be plenty entertained simply by the passing scenery and the occasionally words from you to remind her that you’re there. If you time it right, she may even fall asleep for the ride. If you’re worried about her crying while you’re away from home, save her favorite toy, or a particularly busy one, just for runs. That will likely keep her happy and entertained.
As for you, be sure to get fitted for shoes at a running store (don’t buy shoes based on what they look like. Depending on your footfall, you may benefit more from extra support shoes, wider or narrow shoes, or another type of specialized make. The employee at the running store should be able to help you determine all this.).
Also, give some additional thought to your nutrition. Reduce excess sugar intake, up your water, and don’t eat right before your run in order to avoid side aches. Do, however, ingest something with protein within half an hour after your race to help replenish your system and avoid cramps and soreness later.
Begin with mile-long runs three days a week, and work up from there. If you aren’t able to complete the mile without walking, don’t worry! It’s okay to walk; even for experienced runners. Try alternating between running one minute, walking a minute, running two minutes, walking one minute, running three minutes….and so on. I also highly recommend having a rest day between runs, and never increase your longest run of the week by more than 10% once you’re up to at least three miles.
The best thing you can do for yourself to stay healthy and give running it’s best chance to impress you is to listen to your body. It is a fine line between ‘hurting’ because you’re breathing hard and still getting into shape (while also pushing about 15 extra pounds of baby and stroller!) up a hill, versus ‘hurting’ because you’re on the verge of pulling a muscle. When your body says, “Slow down, I’m in pain,” ask yourself if it’s a physical pain or a mental pain. If it’s physical, slow down right away and be sure to stretch and ice when you get home. You probably ought to take the next day off too. However, if it’s a mental pain, tell yourself you’re strong and push through; before you know it, you’ll be one of those running moms that inspire others to give it a try.
Best of luck!