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Being a mom is comparable to training for an ultra without the rest days. When it comes to balancing motherhood with athletics, the moms we talked to agreed on the importance of not sacrificing running—because in the end, it is what helps to bring a sense of calm and presence to their family interactions. For these women, running is a self-care activity, but it is not selfish: the benefits radiate to the whole family by making them more centered and patient as mothers.
Trail Runner spoke to a few elites to find out how they do it and what they want for Mother’s Day:
Meghan Laws in an ultramarathon coach, has qualified and run in the marathon trials four times and completed Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run 10 times, nine of those being in the top 10. She has a daughter, who is now grown up, and a “hobby farm,” where she raises goats and donkeys when she is not running or coaching.
Kami Semick was USATF Ultra Runner of the Year in 2010 and 2009, “Ultra Running Magazine” Ultra Runner of the Year in 2009 and 2008, 100k IAU World Cup Champion in 2009 and 50k IAU World Trophy Champion in 2009, to name a few accomplishments. Semick lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and daughter where she continues to train for 100K’s.
Liza Howard is a national champion runner with multiple records in distances ranging from marathons to 100-mile trail races. She and her husband live in San Antonio, Texas with their six-year-old son, Asa, and six-month-old daughter, Ruby. She spends her time running on the trails there training for ultramarathons and maintaining her sanity.
Danelle Ballengee is a fitness coach in Moab, Utah. Danelle is also a mom, business owner, professional endurance athlete and survivalist. Though she is no longer competitive, opting to spend time with her two sons, she is the ‘winningest’ endurance athlete in the world, having won several hundred events in various endurance sports, including several National and World Championships in the sports of Skyrunning, adventure racing, mountain running, rogaining, snowshoeing, triathlon and duathlon.
Tips for Creating Balance
Communicate ahead and try to plan for long run days. “On the weekends, I look forward to getting some extra sleep, so I am not running at dawn,” says Semick. “I balance my sleep needs, running desires and family time on the weekend by making everyone breakfast before I take off. That helps me get the sleep I need, gives us a little family time in the morning, then gives me a few hours of running before picking back up with the family in the afternoon.”
Run at any given moment when the opportunity arises. “I would rather get a sweaty run in than clean a bathroom if I suddenly had the chance to do one or the other,” says Laws. “We can always have a clean bathroom when the kids are grown and gone.”
Make your mental and physical health a priority. For many moms, it is important to them that they be a good role model of a healthy lifestyle for their children. “Being a runner, I feel like I’m in shape to keep up with the demands of being a mom,” says Ballengee. “Also being a runner gives me a chance to get out for a run and ‘escape’ my responsibilities for an hour or so. Running as a mom has also turned out to be an inspiration for my two boys.”
Make the time you are away fun for your kids. “Set up playdates with friends, relatives, grandparents, and plan on reciprocating the favor,” says Laws.
- Our number one request? A Massage. For athletes and mamas alike, nothing beats getting all those knots worked out—and a little stress relief doesn’t hurt, either! A gift certificate for a deep tissue or sports-specific massage is about as good as it gets.
- Second most popular request? Freedom from the responsibility of parenthood for a few hours. “A perfect Mother’s Day gift for me,” says Howard, “would be a prepaid babysitter, so I could go on a long run—either by myself or with my husband.” What better way to celebrate mothers than to relieve them from their duties? Give the gift of a babysitter, so that she can go an a nice long trail run…or get her massage.
- Socks. Maybe it is the dog, the toddler or our own scattered brains—but somehow, socks always seem to disappear or have holes in them. Good quality trail socks are always a welcome gift! Check out Trail Runner’s sock roundup for some good options.
- A great shower head. What mom runner doesn’t love a good strong shower after a run (or getting pooped on)? While you’re in the market, save some water (and money!) by investing in a strong but water efficient model.
- Despite #2, most moms also want to spend quality time with their kids on their holiday. Get the family together for a hike or run on her favorite trails, and soak up the springtime sunshine together.