Even though in general I think I have the hang of this whole parenting thing, each week Casey and I inevitably end up sitting down trying to figure out what we can do better, and how we can become more efficient and aware of our time and each other’s needs. With just the two of us out here in Seattle, we have to work hard to coordinate our schedules to ensure that we’re both finding enough time for work, workouts, personal time, and time together.
When we both decided to train for spring races (me running a half marathon, Casey running a full), we talked about how we could fit it all in despite our lack of childcare. (Let me jump in to say that I am working on getting some occasional childcare hopefully soon, but this is how we’re managing in the meantime.)
Our plan for mid-week runs was that Casey would workout during his workday (at his office gym), and I would do my runs with the jogging stroller during the day. (We have a treadmill at home, but I can’t run on it while I’m home with Cullen – his naps are 30 minutes tops.)
On weekends, we would trade off with him running Saturday, and me running Sunday. And so for the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to get out for as many runs as possible while pushing this beast of a stroller.
Running with a running stroller is really hard. You know those moms who cruise down the road with the double jogger, barely even breaking a sweat? I am convinced they are actually superheros in disguise.
The jogging stroller is a full body workout – burning core, jello-like legs, and weakened arms from pushing forward the 50+ pounds of baby necessities. Not to mention, running with a stroller forces you to develop an entirely new running stride – one that leans forward and only uses one arm at a time. Not exactly natural.
So the point of all of this is to tell you that I came to a realization this weekend. I love taking Cullen out for our daily walks, and even for casual I kind of feel like running today types of jogs. But trying to train for a race while exclusively running with a stroller just simply doesn’t work. I’m sure there are other moms out there who have done it, but it’s just not happening for me.
I was supposed to run seven miles on Sunday – just me and Beyoncé out on the trail. But Casey got called into work and so I had to figure out how to make that work along with my sidekick.
Don’t be fooled – he wasn’t actually asleep as this picture suggests. At the point when my window to run opened up, Cullen was wide awake and ready to make my run as adventurous as possible. He showed off his newest skill, tossing toys out of the stroller left and right. Once that wore off, he cried for his pacifier every other minute or so, just often enough to make sure I didn’t get into any sort of running rhythm.
I’m exaggerating a little here of course, but it was during that run that I realized that training and babysitting do not go hand in hand. If I want to be a casual runner and go for jogs with Cullen, that is absolutely fine. But if I want to set goals and train for races, I need to be able to do that on my own.
The biggest problem I have when I’m out for my runs with Cullen is that I spend the entire time completely focused on him. Is he crying? Where is his toy? Did his blanket slip down? Does he seem cold? And heaven forbid if it starts raining.
But what I need to be able to do for just a few short hours each week, is truly and completely focus on ME. I need to be thinking about my pace and my stride. I need to look forward to climbing new hills and reaching new mileage. And I need to be able to lose myself in my headphones without worrying that I won’t be able to hear my baby cry if he needs me.
And so once again, I sat down with Casey to revise our plan and figure out how to be better, more efficient, and how to make it work. I’m going to start doing my runs as soon as Casey gets home in the evenings. With summer on its way, there is plenty of evening light now, so I can run in early evening while Casey gets some alone time with Cullen. If I leave right away, I can make it back before his bedtime. And if the weather doesn’t cooperate, I can always retreat down to the treadmill so that I can still log some miles.
We’re going to give this a shot and see how it goes. We both really want to support each other as parents, but also as individuals. I don’t really feel like I have much of an individual identity these days, and I’m hoping to get a bit of that back by recapturing a sport I used to love so much.
But it’s also entirely possible that the most realistic solution at this point in my life is to acknowledge that perhaps training for races does not work right now. I’m okay with that. I would much rather accept that than continue to feel frustrated by setting unrealistic goals.
We’ll see how it goes. I love going out for long walks with Cullen every day – showing him new sights, new smells, and stimulating him with plenty of voices and faces. And I still think we’ll run together here and there when the weather is nice. But going forward, I’m going to do my best to get on the trail by myself just a few short hours each week. It’s better for all of us.
I have about six weeks to pull myself into half-marathon shape. That’s a tall order to say the least, given my current level of fitness. But I’m still motivated and determined, and as I’ve learned in my many years of running in the past – that part is half the battle.
Note: The recommended age for running in the BOB stroller is listed as 8 months old on the manufacturer’s site. I started running with Cullen at five months, but only because he has excellent head control and I prop him up with extra blankets and cushioning. I also only take my stroller on a paved smooth trail, not on bumpy roads or sidewalks. Make sure to check the recommended guidelines for your particular stroller, and do what you feel is comfortable for your baby.