When you’re a busy mum, it can be difficult to keep up with some of your favourite hobbies and goals. This is especially true for activities that require a time commitment—like training for a half-marathon. Most half-marathon training programs offer twelve- or sixteen-week plans.
During that time, runners typically run anywhere between three to six days per week (depending on the plan). Mileage varies each day, and while some of your training runs will be shorter, others will be much longer (think ten to twelve miles). Fitting in your training and adequately preparing for your race can feel challenging when you’re busy with work and kids, but it’s not impossible.
Here are seven tips for the busy mum training for a half-marathon.
1. Pick the training plan that works for you.
First, know there are many excellent half-marathon training programs out there. Plans are tailored to your time goals and will help you finish strong on race day. For my current race I selected a plan from the Adidas Runtastic App. I already used Runtastic for my daily runs, and it helped me prepare for a race I ran last year. After researching other half-marathon plans, I decided to stick with Runtastic for the half.
On my plan, I run three days per week—the perfect amount for my somewhat chaotic life juggling kids, a freelance business, and a legal career. Your plan may look different, which is why it is important to find the plan that works for you and your life.
2. Stick to your plan but be flexible!
Once you find your perfect plan, stick to it, but be flexible! It can be frustrating when a sick kid, work deadline, or toddler’s nap strike interferes with your running schedule, but don’t lose hope and don’t throw in the towel. If you must move your Tuesday run to Wednesday, you’ll be OK! Keep the big picture in mind and don’t get lost in the details.
3. Run at the time and place that best fits your schedule.
Similarly, plan your training runs for the time and location you are most likely to do them. For example, while running outdoors is ideal to train for an outdoor race, don’t feel guilty if you need to do one or all your training runs on a treadmill if that’s what is most convenient for you.
I do all my training runs on the treadmill in our home gym because that is what allows me to get them done—especially this time of year when it is too cold to take the kids out for a stroller run. I’ve always trained on the treadmill, and I continue to because that is what works for me.
Don’t lose sleep over “shoulds”—i.e., what time of day you “should” be running or whether you “should” be running outside. Just get your run in the way your busy life allows and be proud that you are doing the darn thing.
4. Get your people on board.
It helps to have a support system, so let your family know your training is important to you. As weeks pass and your training runs grow longer, your family will need to understand that mum needs a little extra time on running days to work toward her goal. It is healthy for your family see you train with dedication and tenacity.
Having my husband’s support makes getting the miles in so much easier—especially during those long runs on Sunday morning.
5. Make hydration a priority.
As a mum, meeting your hydration needs can be tough. When you’re training for an athletic event like a half-marathon, it becomes even more important to make hydration a priority. So, prepare for it: get a fun new water bottle and carry it around with you. Swap in coconut water after a run to replenish electrolytes. Don’t skimp in this area—you are asking a lot of your body, so treat it well.
6. Keep your snack stash plentiful.
By upping your mileage, you also increase your appetite. Keep healthy snacks around so you’re not tempted by the box of Oreos in your cupboard. Heck, you’re an adult—have the Oreos if you want them, but make sure you are also eating a balanced diet that will optimize your performance. Keep a snack stash with fruit, nuts, Clif bars, yoghurt, turkey, cheese, whole grain crackers, and other quick snacks you can eat in a pinch. No one likes a hangry mama!
7. Bring the family along!
Finally, if you find yourself short on solo time for your training, get the family involved! If you run outside (and the weather cooperates), consider taking little ones along on a stroller run. Let big kids ride their bikes alongside you. Run a loop around the park while your family plays. Take your partner on a run with you, or better yet, train for a race together! If you workout at home, cross-train with the kids. Do baby yoga or barre. Go for a family swim. Staying active together is one of the best ways you can ensure long-term health for your family.
Best of luck training for your half-marathon!