I’m one of those crazy plan ahead people. For BIG goals, I like to have details worked out months (ok, it is really years) in advance. For the past month, I’ve been contemplating running a marathon.
A marathon is a huge commitment as a runner and as a parent. I completed my first marathon in 2007 and even though I puked my guts from mile 11 until the finish, I still told anyone who would listen that it was the best day of my life.Life was different in 2007. I was single, living in a trendy downtown neighbourhood, and had landed my career job. Life was good. I could be selfish in my training because nobody was relying on me for anything. Now there are a lot of factors to consider in taking on another marathon.
Are you ready for a marathon? If 42.2 kilometres sounds like fun to you, you should also consider:
Personal health and current stamina
A marathon requires an intense 3 month time commitment. More time would be required if you aren’t up to 15km long runs at the start of the 3 months. There is never a perfect time to train for a marathon, but if you make it a priority then you can do it!
If your family isn’t 100% supportive of your decision to run a marathon, then don’t do it. Aside from the 3 to 4 hour runs that you’ll need to complete, you are also going to be tired, sore, and dare I say more irritable.
I always try and complete my runs before my daughter’s Saturday morning sports. To continue this, I’ll need to find something that doesn’t start at 8am. And now with two kids, this will be more difficult. Luckily swimming lessons start as late at 11am in the morning. I also check sunrise charts and plan the earliest time possible that I can run. I’ve even calculated a start time that has me run in the dark, but aligns sunrise to the time I hit the trail portion of my run.
Potential Issue: I can’t expect my husband to handle Saturday morning breakfasts,clean up, and activities when I’m out running AND have him do it again on Sunday morning because I’m tired from the day before that I need more sleep.
Potential Solution: The compromise that would work best for us is that I’d go to bed a bit earlier on Saturday nights to catch up on sleep.
When my mother wanted to do an Ironman Triathlon she had to consider timing and it was best to wait one year until I was a freshman in university since she wanted to be present for all the activities and events that happened in my final year of high school. Know yourself and how involved you want to be or know how much FOMO you suffer from and plan accordingly.
If you tell yourself running is a cheap sport then you’re delirious! Running only requires a pair of running shoes… Oh and don’t forget moisture wicking clothing, double layer socks, Bodyglide to prevent chafing, special water bottle belt, another pair of shoes since you’ll wear out the first pair before the race, a sports bra that costs more than dinner for two at the Keg, recovery electrolyte drinks, the grocery bill from that time you’ll go shopping after a long run and accidentally buy the entire store, race entry fee, hotel for the race, the kiddie pool you splurge on out of guilt for not spending enough time with the kids, 8 bags of ice for when you realize you can hijack the kiddie pool for your long run recovery ice bath….etc.
If you are thinking of a fall marathon then you’ll be completing some of your long runs (3+ hours) over summer. If you’re planing a vacation you also need to consider how you will complete your long run. I’d say live a little and miss a weekday run, but those long runs are not to be messed with.
Potential Issue: Your family trip to Europe occurs during marathon training.
Potential Solution: Look for a half marathon to participate in at your holiday destination. Or can you find a run club that will be running similar distance? Maybe travel with your training partner and map a run where you are visiting. Adjust your dates and vacation over a recovery week when miles are shorter and could be run on a hotel treadmill.
Are you going to be able to find the time to run or are you working 12 hour days in the office? I actually find when I’m super busy at work that I need to get my runs in to keep my sanity. However, this could be a vicious cycle if work and running keep you away from your family. Long work hours can mean more fast food meals, which could impact how you feel in your workouts. This could mean more meal planning in order to eat right, work long hours, and feel good in your runs.
Personal Health and Current Stamina
I personally believe that anyone can run a marathon. However, the journey to that marathon start line will be different for everyone. I wouldn’t undertake a 3 month training plan until I was happy with my 5km and 10km race times. After all, I want to run the next marathon faster than my last. If you have been running through an injury or hoping a tinge in your knee will go away on its own – then maybe get that checked out before fooling yourself into a marathon.
I include current stamina as well because you should be able to run at least 15km comfortably prior to starting your training plan. I would also suggest having run a half marathon in the last year before taking on a marathon. This will prepare you for a build up in training mileage. I like to eliminate “surprises” during training and you start to learn about your body when you increase mileage for a race above 10km. To read more on half marathon training and how I balance it with work and family check out my previous post Balancing Half Marathon Training.
What is the Verdict?
Will you sign up for a marathon or run away screaming less than 42.2km in the opposite direction? I’ve considered these factors and I’m leaning towards YES! I’ve got my spreadsheets out and I’m starting to visualize how I can make this work. Tell me in the comments if you have a marathon or multiple marathons on your bucket list.
Some weeks are harder than others and for me this has been one of the harder ones.
With my baby turning one on Wednesday it made me extra emotional. With a birthday comes a birthday party and we are hosting about 30 people in our house this weekend.
Every day this week I tried to tackle a cleaning and reorganization task to get my house looking its best for the party. Of course, this is the week I have my 20 kilometre training run!
I’m glad to say that while I’ve had late nights all week, I am no longer stressed about hosting. Last night’s late night was focused on making homemade donuts to see if they were as easy as they appeared. The verdict is in and yes, they are super easy!
So while this is a short, reflective post, I think its important to remember that we need to try and achieve balance. Don’t do all the cleaning the night before, don’t calorie count and never indulge, don’t make a menu you’re uncomfortable with.
I’m a goal setter. I write it down and then I make a plan and I work towards crushing that goal. Pre-kids I would make short-term, long-term, and stretch goals. Now with kids I’m more of a planner and longer term goals have become plans. I have spreadsheets with details of vacation plans, races, club activities for 10 years down the road. Some [hubby included] think its crazy, but I love my plans. But let’s talk about this year and the next 12 months. I’ve broke it up into PROFESSIONAL, FITNESS, and PERSONAL.
I’ll be heading back to work at my corporate job in mid-October and with only 2.5 months to contribute there, I don’t have a big corporate goal for 2019. My company is great and I even received a promotion when I was on maternity leave with my first child. So for 2019 my professional goal is for this BLOG:
In order to even be eligible, I need to step my game up. I’m committing to having new posts weekly and to increase my social media presence. I want to be your go-to place when you want to read about running, Disney, or know that you’re not alone in this crazy parenting life that we’re going through together. So be a dear and leave me a comment if there’s something specific you’d like to hear about and I’ll try to make it happen.
Nominations typically take place in April so hopefully I’ll get a pulse check on this goals progress by mid-year.
I’m a runner. Always have been and always will be. I remember running in kindergarten around the 3 soccer fields at school and feeling the runners high, which maybe was just excitement that I was the fastest kid in the class. Whatever it was has kept me running for nearly 30 years. My 2019 fitness goals go together like salt, pepper, and cumin. My 2019 fitness goals are to:
Run under 2 hour half marathon
Run under 50 min 10km
Complete the Fairy Tale Challenge with a smile.
A lot has changed since I ran my first half marathon in 2007. I’m comfortable and proud of who I am today and I don’t want to be my old self, I want to be me: the runner mom with an unhealthy Disney obsession that knows she shouldn’t eat the nightly ice cream bar.
I really do feel like these goals go together like salt, pepper, and cumin. The Fairy Tale Challenge is the cumin – a nice to have with little to no expectation and no limitation. However, I need a faster 10k time if I’m ever going to run a faster 1/2 marathon time. Long, slow distance makes long, slow runners. If I focus on some speed training and push myself in a 10k, then I can take that strength, power, and confidence into a half marathon and hopefully run my fastest post-pregnancy half marathon.
The Fairy Tale Challenge takes place February 23 and 24 with a 10k race on Saturday and a 1/2 (21.1k) race on Sunday. I’ll be running it with my mom and as long as I cross those finish lines with a smile I’ll be happy.
My personal goals are:
Read 3 novels
Spend time away from my baby
Take my Instapot out of the box.
I know what you’re thinking, “wow, Shelby, what a wild year 2019 will be for you.” I used to read a lot and it brought me joy, but since having my first child in 2015, I’ve barely read. I think I’ve only tackled the Crazy Rich Asian trilogy. Chic-lit is fine by me – no judgement – so hopefully on some upcoming flights with a sleeping baby I’ll put a dent into this goal [a girl can dream, right?].
My baby goes insane when anyone else picks her up and I want her to know she’s loved and safe with family and friends so hopefully I’ll be able to feel comfortable leaving her for an hour or two every once in a while. I’d really like to take my 3 year old to a movie and not have a massive amount of mom guilt over leaving the baby with her father or grandparents. I know its an attachment phase right now and as annoying as it can be it is pretty awesome knowing that to this cute little baby I’m the best thing since canned spaghetti. *
*Canned spaghetti is disgusting, but my Italian family has always used that expression and we find it hilarious.
I am excited for 2019 and all the new adventures that will be heading my way. Leave a comment about your 2019 goals!
My hobby, sport, and way of keeping in shape is running. I’m a fan of the half marathon distance. I ran my first half marathon just over 10 years ago and have enjoyed many others since. My husband’s first half marathon race pic just popped up in my Facebook feed as a memory from 10 years ago, which was funny since he was 100% in the friend zone at that time and I kicked his butt in that race!
Half Marathon: The Perfect Distance
I find half marathons the perfect distance since it is far enough that you can’t skip your long runs, but not too far that your training runs take over your life. With a 10 kilometre (km) race, I could rest on my laurels and while it might be painful, I could jump into a 10km race and survive it without adequate training. However, in a half marathon, the level of discomfort and risk of injury is much higher if you don’t complete your training runs.
My longest training run for a half marathon would be under 2.5 hours long. If I started my run at 6 AM, I could be home in time to eat breakfast with my family.
My 3 Tips for Successful Half Marathon Training
Find a plan and routine that works for you.
Be realistic when making your plan. For me, I can’t commit to more than 3 days a week.
Also plan out your runs; determine what time of day works for you and make a routine out of it.
Find a race and register for it to keep you motivated.
Having a goal to work towards will keep you motivated. I tell lots of people about my upcoming race far in advance so I feel accountable.
Find a training partner or run club.
While I enjoy running on my own, I couldn’t imagine all of my long runs by myself. Having someone with you can make your long runs fly by. Running is a form of therapy for me since I talk through problems, vent, share memories with my running partner.
Running After Baby
After having a baby, running was a major challenge for me. The motivation to loose weight was certainly there, but my body wasn’t ready for that kind of intensity. My body had changed; I was nursing and had major nursing boobs that could not be tamed. Running wasn’t comfortable so my plan to run 6 months after giving birth and to start half marathon training went out the window.
I tried once more to run when my baby was 13 months and I had been back at work for a few weeks. While my body cooperated with running this time, I found it difficult to stay committed. Part of the problem was that I ran alone at 7:45 PM, after the baby was nursed and in bed. I was exhausted, it was dark out, and Netflix was calling me.
Third time was the charm! I survived a busy August at work and I knew the fall was going to be busy at work so if I didn’t get running soon I’d never maintain my fitness during the winter. Baby was now 18 months old and I was daydreaming about Disney vacations and it struck me: why not run a Disney race!?! My timing could not have been better as the Tinker Bell Half Marathon’s registration was coming up in mid-September. I laced up my runners and tried to run and this time, with the right motivation and a better fitness level than the other two attempts I kept up my training and ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon last month.
Baby Steps: Initial Running Plan
Starting my half marathon training in September for a May half marathon gave me ample time to build a foundation before I had to start logging long miles. September, October, and November focused on a run/walk program. This meant each week I’d run 1 minute, walk 1 minute until I’d reached 12 to 15 minutes of total run time. Then the next week I’d bump up my run time. After a few weeks I was running 10 minutes and walking 1 minute. From this, I switched to distance based training with 3 to 4 km runs during the week and a 5 km on the weekend. Each long run (weekend run), I’d increase by 1 km. I also listened to my body and decreased every few weeks to let my body have a break.
While I was focused on this training and really happy with my progress, I should note that I was nowhere close to the times I once ran. I don’t blame pregnancy on this as I had a health scare in the years leading up to pregnancy that I think took its tole on me. I’m a highly competitive person, but I took this slower pace in stride (pun intended). Now that I’m a mom, I’ve chilled out a lot more and having time to run and pursue my own fitness makes me happy. I’m not longer focused on my splits, although slow or not, I always aim for a negative split.
My mantra for running post pregnancy is: No expectations, no limitations.
Find a Training Plan that Works for You
A quick Google search can turn up dozens of half marathon training plans. In some you have to run 5 days a week, in others only 3 days. Some have steep build ups in long run mileage, while others are more gradual. I suggest you open a spreadsheet, take what you like from multiple plans that you’ve reviewed and plug that into your own plan.
For me I have a simple long run build up that I don’t mess with in the 7 weeks leading to the race, which is as follows:
16, 16, 12, 18, 18, 20, 8 km.
While this builds my last several weeks, most training plans should cover a minimum of 18 weeks with a minimum distance of 10 km to begin. Keep this in mind as you set your sights on your goal race and plan accordingly.
Plan Your Runs
Plan out when you are going to run, then make it happen. I nurse my daughter to sleep at 7 PM daily and I only have an hour with her before bedtime so I know during the week I need to run later that I’d prefer. Running at 7:30 PM means most of the year it is dark so I have a reflective vest and my husband knows my route.
For my weekend long runs, I aim to be home by 8 AM. This means I may need to be up before 6 AM or for a shorter run, closer to 6:45 AM. Yes, it is early, but I’m committed to my training and I find running enjoyable.
Importance of a Training Partner
I’ve got an amazing training partner that happily runs at my odd ball times. She supports me, loves me, and let’s me talk on and on about whatever is bothering me. You won’t find a training partner better than mine, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and find one. I forgot to mention, my training partner is my mom – my IRONMAN, marathoner, more energy than I’ll ever have, MOTHER!
Let Me Know…
Let me know if you have questions – I’m passionate about running and happy to help you figure out how to juggle it into your busy life.
I am happiest when I have solved a problem with the use of a spreadsheet. A few years ago, I began using a spreadsheet to make my weekly meal plans. Having weekly meal plans keeps me focused and efficient. Also, my husband and I both arrive home from work between 5:30 and 6 PM and that doesn’t give us much time to boil water, let alone make an entire meal.
Why I do Weekly Meal Plans:
Holds me accountable to eat better.
Reduces food waste.
Saves money on one-off grocery trips or eating out.
Saves time as I can prepare food in advance.
Reminds me to use freezer food.
Easing into Meal Planning
If meal planning is going to be a shock to your system, then start out slowly with only planning weeknight dinners and plan to make more than you need so you can eat leftovers during the week. I know leftovers are a polarizing subject, but let it be known I’m #TeamLeftovers.
Below is a sample week for my family:
Veggie Stir-fry with chicken and rice
Pasta with microwaved meatballs
Crock pot Chicken w/root veggies.
Next Day Prep
Take chicken out of freezer.
Boil pasta + assemble.
Take whole chicken out of freezer.
Chop veggies and get crock pot ready.
The Extra Rows
I find it very useful to add additional rows to my weekly meal plans to include “next day prep” and “evening activity”. As a result of “next day prep”, you don’t forget to take food out of the freezer. This allows freezer food time to defrost and you can also plan more evening prep when you anticipate a more hectic next day. The above example shows that I take my chicken out of the freezer and into the fridge on Wednesday night. Come Friday, I can put the thawed chicken into the crock pot.
Depending on the amount of time you have to prepare your dinner each day, you can adjust the amount of next day prep to do and move some to the day of. For me, it is useful to have my rice and water measured the night before so that it is ready – all I have to do the day of is rinse the rice and turn on my rice cooker and in 15 minutes, I’ll have my carbs!
Adapting for Children’s Eating Habits
I add rows to my weekly meal plans for my daughter (the Munchkin), to indicate who will pick her up from daycare (e.g., my husband or the grandparents) and on what night she needs a bath. If my husband and I are eating perogies or potatoes then I need to plan a meal for the Munchkin that is different from ours. She’s usually a good eater, but has always refused potatoes.
You can expand the weekly meal plans to include weekends and all other meals. I’ll be sure to blog about some of my favourite quick and easy week day meals.
I can quickly write in what our dinner is for each night and post it on the fridge. Alternatively, you can start with this if it is your first foray into meal planning. Posting the printable Mickey menu on the fridge helps us keep Disney alive all year in our home!
In the last week before the end of my maternity leave I took the Munchkin in to the day care for a couple hours each day to support her “gradual entry”. I wish I had a gradual re-entry to help ease into my career after maternity leave. Instead, I spent the Munchkin’s gradual entry time at day care at the mall updating my professional wardrobe. Taking the full year of maternity leave, I didn’t realize how long it had been since I wore my pre-pregnancy wardrobe. Due to seasonality and the need for stretchy maternity clothes, it had been two years since I wore spring clothes at work.
I remember my first day back after maternity leave being a Monday and I had to wake up before 5am to nurse the crying baby, put the baby back to sleep, and then start my morning routine. Many tears were shed that morning (mainly my own), but my little family survived the dreaded first day “after maternity leave”.
Day Care and the Mom Guilt
Our day care staff were all amazing and we didn’t have to worry about the Munchkin’s needs being met. After maternity leave ended, I needed to learn to manage all of the mom-guilt I was feeling.
In the first two months back at work, the Munchkin refused to nap at day care. This meant, as a one year old, she was awake from 7am to 5:30pm. On the drive home from day care she’d constantly be falling asleep. This lack of seriously required sleep caused mom-guilt.
When the Munchkin refused to nap at day care people kept telling me that “next time” I needed to start spending more time away from the baby closer to going back to work so that after maternity leave “next time” it will be better. To me that sounds practical, but I also know that after maternity leave ends, my daily time allowance goes from spending all day with the baby to spending less than 2 hours of quality time with the baby. I would go the “cold turkey” route again in a heartbeat. If there’s a choice between time with my child and time to myself, the decision is easy.
Post Maternity Leave Office Routine
After maternity leave, I had to still supply the Munchkin with milk for her time at day care. This meant I had to pump at work and I alerted my manager of this a month or two before I returned so that I could have a place to pump in private. Pumping at work added another layer of complexity to determining my post-maternity leave office routine. It was a stressful time, settling in to this new office routine of pumping milk instead of grabbing a coffee or fresh air. I had also received a promotion so I was starting in a more advanced position and needed to catch up on all of the activities over the past year.
Mom Brain, the Good Kind
I think we’ve all heard someone say “pregnancy brain” but after I became a mom I heard “mom brain” a lot. This is an extremely demeaning term that we need to banish from our vocabs. This actually had me worried that maybe I’d have a lag and it would take my brain time to switch to analytical mood, but that wasn’t the case. In my opinion, society underestimates the work of parents in supporting and keeping an infant alive and thriving. When parenting, you are constantly making decisions and judgement calls, then immediately implementing those decisions and then moving to the next challenge. Now that I’ve been back at work a while I think I’m a more efficient employee and I second guess myself less, which I think is due to my other full-time job of being a parent.
Surviving and Thriving After Maternity Leave
I’ve now been back to work for over a year and my little family is surviving and thriving. I’m no longer pumping at work and I’m really enjoying being back in the office working. Having a career allows me to pursue my skills and passions and is a key piece of my identity.
After many months of contemplation and research, I’ve decided to start a blog to connect with other like-minded people. I’m at the point in my life where I’m constantly juggling all of my passions and my responsibilities. It is more than the cliché “work-life balance” because for me it is learning to manage all of my passions:
Spending quality time with my family
Advancing in my career
Maintaining fitness through half marathon training
Cooking delicious meals and baking treats
Planning vacations and travelling (e.g., DISNEY)
There’s a steep learning curve managing it all, but I’m having fun and I can’t wait to share it with you. Below is a bit more about me and what to expect on the blog.
I have a full-time career in regulatory policy that I find very rewarding and fulfilling. Returning to work post-maternity leave meant it would also be the first time in a year that I’d need to shower and get changed out of my pajamas for five consecutive days. It wasn’t all bad though, I enjoyed being back at work where I could solve problems, converse with adults, write, and not get spit up on. While I was on maternity leave I was actually promoted (feminist high-fives all around!) so upon my return I was learning new things and taking on new tasks. After three months, I had a routine that I was becoming more comfortable with and my parents were helping us out with a couple daycare pick-ups a week. I even made it home in time to see the Munchkin’s first steps. I’ve now been back at work for over a year and while there have been some crazy times (e.g., working 60 + hour work weeks), I’m glad that the Munchkin can see her mom pursuing her passions in a pant suit.
In 2015 I gave birth to my daughter (the Munchkin) and since I’m Canadian, I was fortunate enough to have a one year maternity leave to bond with my baby. During this time we enjoyed a two week vacation to Florida (e.g., Orlando, Naples, Miami) and spent that last few days of our trip in Walt Disney World. I think this is where I contracted Disney fever. Last summer, we made a last minute decision to abandon our Parksville vacation plans and instead fly 12 hours with a 15-month old baby to Rome for a week. Best change of plans. Ever.
Last month I completed the Tinkerbell Half Marathon hosted by RunDisney at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. It was an amazing experience. I spent the six months leading up to our Disneyland vacation researching and planning all aspects of our trip. Listening to various podcasts, reading Disney books, and joining Disney-related Facebook groups, which inspired me to start the Mouse House Mom blog.
This is where I’ll be sharing my experiences as a working mom who also loves running, food, and all things Disney. I think it is important I remain connected to my own community by posting local events and activities as well vacation planning tips and suggestions.