Jolena is a roommate from way back when and one of my original running inspirations. When we lived together, she would wake up in the cold, dark winter mornings, bundle up and put in several miles before heading off to school for a full day of classes and homework. She is the first person I actually knew who qualified for (and ran) the Boston Marathon. And she was there when I crossed the finish line at the Utah Valley Marathon a couple of weeks ago. She is also a new mom and struggling to get back into running.
She’s asked for some help in overcoming her struggles, because, like so many of us, she wants to run. But she only has so much energy and her little person is taking the lions share of it. Here are her specific questions: “What are some things I can do to enjoy running again? I’m not getting nearly enough sleep, though it’s getting better. [ . . . ] What are good ways to have enough energy? Food tips? Training tips?”
I’ve been thinking about this for the past week and I feel like I’m coming up short. Here are some of my initial thoughts. Please add your ideas and experiences in the comments section.
- try to get out during the time when you have the most energy, whether it be after the first morning feeding or last thing at night.
- think of it as a special treat. Running is a time when you get to listen to your music as loud as you want, to “dress up” in clothes that don’t smell like milk or have spit up on them, to be wild and free and forget, if only for 30 minutes, that you are supposed to be really tired.
- find a friend who needs you to support her in her running goals. Or allow yourself to be the friend that needs support. I always underestimate the amount of energy I get from talking to other adults without having to worry about kids.
- make a challenging but doable goal, set a date, and mark it on the calendar. As a runner, a 5K may seem too short of a distance to have to really work toward, and a half-marathon might seem overwhelming right at first, but maybe there’s a 10K you can test your mettle with to see if you really are ready to get back into running.
- make it a game to regain some of your old strength and stamina. Go out for an easy run to get a baseline of what you are capable of and then try to improve it over the next few months. Treat yourself to something when you reach your goal.
Does anybody else have any ideas for Jolena? I’m sure there are some of you who have experienced the post-baby energy-suck. How did you overcome it? Do you have any ideas about fueling for the run? How do you find joy in running when you have hardly any energy to give to it?