Written by Amy Will, 16x Marathoner
Throwback to my first race EVER: I took off running a local 5k—I didn't have a running watch or smartphone to track that at the time! As I ran past one woman, she yelled to my 22-year-old self, "You won't be running like that after you have kids!" Those words really stuck with me, and I wondered how being a mom would change me as a person. Judging from her tone, being a mom sure sounded tough.
Motherhood can get a bad rap, as in the snippet I shared above. After being a mom for a decade, I stay feeling like a "new mom" in many ways. This journey is challenging, often exhausting, and has indeed changed me for the better.
My personality has chilled out.
1. Becoming a parent has greatly improved my go-with-the-flow skills. Our family does have a daily routine, which is beneficial for the kids and us parents as well, but it's not as rigid as it used to be. The kids are teaching me to enjoy the blessings in the present moment and to be more flexible with our day (and my goals). Daily structure looks different in each season of parenting, and just when I think we’ve found our groove—POOF!—we’re into a new season again!
Running solo is a mini-vacation.
2. As a parent, finding a minute to even shower is difficult, so prioritizing time away for a run is really something special. Even a short run can serve as a mental reset, stress reliever, time to rock out to your favorite tunes, or an opportunity to just enjoy the quiet. If I’m feeling anxious before a long run, hard workout, or even a race, I remind myself that I don’t have to run, I get to run! It’s something that I get to do for myself, and I don’t want to take that for granted.
Recovery is a hoot.
3. Fitting in time to train, foam roll, strength train, stretch, and sleep in the midst of life’s responsibilities is a legit juggling act. I thought this would get easier as my babies and toddlers got older, but I soon found that older kids are busy with school and activities, so there’s that! Recovery and tapering for a race can feel near impossible—how does a mom actually rest? All I can say is, give yourself grace and do what you can. These years with little ones fly by too fast!
Motivation to get out the door.
4. Whether you’re a morning, mid-day, or evening runner, becoming a mom has put an extra pep in my step to get out the door because time is very limited. In my experience, waking up early in the morning to run solo is much easier than pushing a double stroller through speed intervals, or sneaking a treadmill run in amongst the kids’ schooling and activities. I hardly regret an early morning run!
Increased mental toughness.
5. When I start to underestimate my strength around mile 18 of a marathon, I have reassured myself that if I can make it through labor and delivery, I can push a few more miles. Motherhood and the marathon have so much in common when it comes to mental toughness, perseverance, and endurance. (Also the idea of going through so much discomfort, experiencing the joy at the end, and then wanting to do it all over again!)
Less time for pre-race jitters.
6. Between pumping a bottle for a baby, packing up the diaper bag, getting the kids dressed before breakfast, I had much less time to think about being nervous before races. Even now as my kids are getting older, I still get the pre-race jitters, but my kids do a great job of distracting me with my mom duties. Seeing their smiling faces on the race course is extra motivation to run faster as well! Even after crossing the finish, one of the kiddos usually steals my post-race goodies! #momlife
Goals are more open-minded.
7. Though I always train with a time goal in mind, my true goal is to be grateful to be able to run and remain flexible with whatever happens on race day. There are many variables that can come into play, so keeping an open mind for race day is super helpful. No matter what the day brings, the effort and dedication put into your training is something to be proud of!
Motherhood is a joyful and chaotic marathon— it turns out that comment from the beginning of my story was right after all. Becoming a mom has made me a stronger runner, and I appreciate this sport all the more now.