Tori with grandson Oliver, 3 days after running the 2009 Royal Victoria Marathon
I love a running group: meeting new people, finding out why they run, what they do besides running, what motivates them. It makes the hours and the effort float by effortlessly. One new running buddy is a woman with two children, aged 6 and 9.
I must admit – at this stage of my life, with a self-sufficient teenager at home and two grown children (including one grandchild) – I couldn’t imagine at first how one trains for a half marathon with little ones. Case in point: my new running friend was going home after our run to prepare for her son’s birthday party and host a family dinner –that same day.
“Whoa – I usually go home and have a nap on Saturdays,” I said.
“Yeah – I’m going to be exhausted,” she said.
In contrast, I went home to have a glass of chocolate milk, a leisurely soak in the tub, eat some lunch, do some errands in the Village, have coffee with friends, make some appetizers and then, later on, shake some martinis a small get-together with some other friends.
I do remember training for a half marathon when my children were that age. It can be done! with a little creativity and trusting that your kids are all the better when their mom takes care of her health. For instance, my kids and their friends loved that I could do cartwheels, especially when they were really little.
Here are some of my tips I shared with my new friend:
• Figure 8’s: while the kids played with each other in the front yard, I ran 800 m figure-8 loops around the two blocks surrounding our house, waving at them as I ran by. Even if it’s a short run it’s better than nothing.
• Candy Cane Park: along the same lines, I found an open play park with a nice loop where I could keep an eye on the kids playing while I ran around, and around, and around. Hey, it gets boring, but you can join the kids afterwards and do stretches and pull-ups on the playground equipment. Note: tracks are really boring for little kids, try to find an open playground instead.
• Cheap child care at rec. centres: take advantage of it! Look around – most of them have some child care times. They’re usually bedlam – but they’re only there for an hour or so, and most of the time the kids have a ball and you can get your workout in.
• Swim or skate lessons: most facilities have a workout area that’s available for you while kids are in their class. Get on that treadmill and work out when they do!
• Bikes: kids on their bikes, you running. Try and keep up, will ya?
• Take them running with you! This usually meant my son – he’d sprint ahead and stop to catch his breath. When I caught him he would sprint ahead again .. and so on. Make a short loop so that when child decides he’s had enough, he can go play with friends while you keep going. (P.S. my son – now age 22 would still be running if he hadn’t torn his ACL playing football last summer.)
• Get Dad (or a friend) in on it to trade off child minding duties. My ex-husband and I liked to run together, but it was a treat because usually we could only go one at a time while the other stayed home to mind the children.
• Get up at an unseemly early hour. I still do this. It’s my “me” time: 5 – 6:30 am.
• The running stroller. Never had one, they were out of our price range – but I always wanted one. Train while pushing your child, and when race time comes you feel so light and free! Actually, I did wear out (very quickly) one cheap stroller when my youngest was about 18 months old. We found out the hard way – I was running down the street and the thing just – disintegrated. Wheels fell off, I’m eating pavement, daughter is laughing, tipped over sideways on the sidewalk. Luckily we weren’t far from home, and I only wounded my pride.
No excuses – just do it. You do have time to take care of your health – if you make it a priority.