900 miles. That’s about how much my husband ran in the last 6 months. Honestly, just thinking about that number makes me ache. 5 days a week, nonstop. The guy’s incredible.
Not only is he a great athlete, but he’s also a dedicated Dad, supportive husband, diligent worker, and spends a lot of time serving in our community. (Yes, I know I’m bragging a bit, but man, he is juggling a ton of balls and deserves a little credit for it, you know?) But honestly, the time to run 900 miles is serious, and if not done right can put some major stress on everyone.
So how in the world does he balance it all?
It’s a family effort.
1. Communicate your goals.
Each week Andrew tells me which days he’ll be running early, late and which days are his rest days. I know how fare he’s running (especially important on long runs since they are several hours) and what he needs to accomplish. This helps our family be able to give him both the time and encouragement that he needs to stay on track.
2. Involve the kids.
Andrew is always great at helping the kids feel involved in whatever is going on. For us that meant letting the older kids ride bikes while he ran, and then for the little ones, they got to help him make his recovery drink after long runs. Sure, these are little things, but it went a long way towards helping the kids feel involved, which is a huge deal since he was investing so much time in his running.
Although his running goals were important, they were not the most important thing. Spending time as a family always comes first, which meant that a lot of runs happened late at night. With the cooler weather (ahem, temps in the 90’s) we did a lot of weekend adventures this winter. This meant that we’d get back in the evening and Andrew would head out to run 15 miles when we got back. Yes, it’s a pain for him, but the time we spent with the kids on those trips was much more important.
Running a marathon requires a lot of time, and if you have a young family that can be difficult. TO balance that, we came up with a workout schedule. Each of us was guaranteed three workout mornings per week where the other person was on kid duty. That helped both of us feel more balanced and didn’t make me feel like my goals and me-time (working out) had to take a back seat to his running. Any workouts that either one of us wanted to do had to take place outside of family time, which especially for Andrew meant lots of late night runs.
5. Be Flexible.
Life with kids requires flexibility of all kinds. There are times when it was easy to sneak in an extra run and other times that we’d be up late with a sick kid and knew that running just wasn’t going to happen that day. It’s okay. Life happens, and the best that you can do is to just roll with it. Don’t beat yourself up, but also do your best to stay in your groove.
6. Use your Running to Teach your Kids.
Lastly, if you’re running a big race, make sure you talk to your kids about it. This is a great teaching opportunity for them to see you persevering and powering through some very real things. Tell them when you don’t want to run but do anyway. Explain to them how to properly eat and fuel their body for hard work. Explain to them the amazing feeling you get when you knock out one of your 20 mile runs (and how much it hurts). Show them how you recover from your injuries. Lots of amazing teaching moments here, just make sure you open up and talk about them.