Timing a Workout Around a Nursling

Once again, it’s marathon season in Pittsburgh and a friend has convinced me to start training for the relay race even though I have a tiny nursling at home. Ok, he’s anything but tiny–but he’s young and pretty dependent on my milk! Last time around, my baby turned one the day of the race. This year, woman stretchingmy baby will only be 8 months old by race day.

When my friend asked me to run, I knew I could ambulate my 6.4-mile portion. Heck, I ran 13.1 miles one year after major abdominal surgery. What’s 6.4 miles? Really. The distance is not the thing. It’s all the other things! My head leapt immediately to training and the milk logistics of race day.

My gut reaction was to say no. Nope–baby is too young, milk is too complicated. Nope, nope, nope.

But my husband is so supportive. He suggested I sign up for the leg of the race that goes closest to our house. I could ride my bike to my start point at the last minute, run my portion, and my baby could meet me at the exchange to nurse right away. It’s hard to argue with that!

Now the biggest issue will be getting in my training.

I read back through my old blog posts from other trainings, and here are the guidelines I’m going to use to get in my training this time:

1. Ask for help. My husband actually works for the marathon, so the weeks leading up to the race are (for me) solo parenting marathons! In past years, I’ve asked neighbors to just hang out with my kids so I could get in a 20-30 minute run. I plan to do this again. Maybe I’ll even find a mama in a similar situation who wants to swap kids!

2. Run right after nursing. As soon as my wee babe finishes a nursing session, I’ll have to zip out the door for my training runs, because I’ll want to be home with enough time to mop the sweat from my bosom before he latches on again. You might be more fit than me and think it won’t take very long to run 3 miles or so, but you’d be wrong about that! Which leads me to my next guideline…

3. Take things slowly. This body has been through the wringer. I’ve grown three humans, sustained them with milk I also grew, and endured three cesarean sections. It’s very important that I leave time to stretch, that I don’t go too hard. If I injure myself, who is going to take care of these babies? If I take my time, I’ll build strength and emerge on the other end feeling great.

4. Cross train. I don’t have to train for the relay by running, specifically. If I can’t get anyone to help me with my boys, I can still strap one baby to my front and one toddler to my back and march around the block a few times while the big kid is at school. I’m sure I’ll get my heartrate up lugging 45 pounds of Lev lads around.

5. Listen to my body. I sure don’t want mastitis. While I want to push myself and work hard, if I’m getting clear signals to rest and slow down, I need to pay attention to those. I’m not aiming for a specific time. I’m looking to complete the race.

Have you trained for an athletic event with a young baby or multiple kids? Leave us a comment to share your experience!

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