Few things are more ambitious than marathon training. Maybe for those who are bad decision makers when sleep-deprived, marathon training with an infant at home? Poor sucker, whomever is considering this. But I took one for the team, so here are my 8 tips for marathon training with an infant.
1) Baby Steps
Take it slow. Like, really slow. Chances are that if you are considering a marathon at this point in your life, you already have a decent running base. Or maybe you don’t, you brave soul. Either way: you are more exhausted than you’ve ever been in a way that’s hard to describe. And that’s just if you are Dad. Moms have the added benefit of recovering from birth or maybe breastfeeding at all hours of the night. Adding running to the mix is a quick way to go into overload. Start it slow, and not just pace. Fewer miles, less often, and a slower pace than a typical training program is a good idea. A typical training time is 16 weeks leading up to the race, but I started at 20 weeks for this very reason. Those extra four weeks were a huge mental help.
2) You Will Miss a Run
[But You’ve Budgeted the Miles]
There will be setbacks. Bad weather, cranky baby, sick baby, sick partner, you get sick, yada yada yada. But you remember those four extra weeks you added to take it slow? We both know you didn’t actually take it slow, you just said that to make yourself feel better. And that means you have miles to spare. So don’t stress about a long run that becomes a quick 5k. You’re still on pace.
3) Invest in the Tools of the Trade
There are a few things that make marathon training infinitely easier. A treadmill (either your own or one at the gym) and a running stroller top that list for me. Access to a treadmill means you have the ability to abandon ship when needed in case of an emergency; medical, emotional, poop-splosion, or otherwise. Plus, the ability to run at whatever time of day works for your family, not just planning around weather and daylight.
And now that it’s warming up, there’s nothing better than taking the baby with you on a run. If your little one is anything like Oivia, they’ll be so happy watching the scenery go by. Beyond the child’s enjoyment, there are a few other benefits to the jogging stroller. First, it lets you give your partner a break while you are out. A nap, catching up on housework, a nap, a long bath, or maybe even a nap. Second, taking the baby breaks up the monotony of training. It’s different than the day-to-day and that’s huge for me. Lastly, you can conveniently keep your nutrition and hydration in the stroller. Just expect that your pace will be slower and make sure you’re a bit more careful than you are on your own.
4) Proper Running Attire is a Necessity
I can’t stress this enough. Not that it has to do with having an infant by any stretch, but having the proper gear is essential for your comfort. Good, properly fitted, shoes prevent injury. And breathable fabric with flat seams prevents chafing. The tip here is have more sets of clothes than you normally would because babies take up a ton of laundry space. Doing laundry more than you already do is a miserable idea.
5) Nutrition and Hydration
[And Sleep?] are Important
Really, though! It’s one thing to hit the wall and feel like crap for the rest of the day when it’s just you. But you can’t afford be a waste of space for a whole day after a bad run when there’s a baby involved. Your partner might just murder you. So make sure you get plenty of water, nutrition, and rest the day and night before a long training run. Sleep is hard to come by, but at least make sure it’s a chill night without over-exerting yourself.
6) Find a Babysitter or Support
for Long Runs
There are going to be more than a few runs that are more than three hours long during marathon training – what is your spouse going to do while you are out? That’s a mighty long time. If you can, help find a playdate or plan a visit to the grandparents. And if you are REALLY nice? Take a day off of work to do the big ones. If the kid is happily already at daycare, you are free to take as long as you want!
7) Ditch the Dad (or Mom) Guilt
Seriously. It’s ok to take time for yourself away from the family. They’ll survive. And remember, you’re at your best when you feel good about yourself. So go be the best version of yourself and accomplish a huge goal! That’s nothing to feel guilty about.
8) Make Sure Your Partner is On Board
for Marathon Training
Ditch all the other tips on the list if this one isn’t squared away. It would be impossible to complete marathon training without a supportive partner. I’m pretty lucky that Brittany is putting up with my constant running and soreness. Without her buy in, this would be impossible.