The other day my mom asked me how much of my time is going toward training for my upcoming 100 mile race. For good reason, she warned me to make sure that I am not neglecting my family. My mom was totally right to check in with me and keep me accountable to the people who matter the most. My parents are getting ready to celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary this week, and they know a thing or two about a happy marriage.
I decided to run the Yeti 100 Mile Endurance Run shortly after Cadence was born, and my husband and I had a good talk about what all would be involved with my training. From day one, Jon has supported my efforts, but I know that it hasn’t come without some sacrifice. The biggest difference with this training cycle from other training cycles is not that I am training for a race about 4x as long as the marathon, but that we now have an adorable baby to love.
While training for a 100 mile race is more involved than marathon training, I have been surprised at how manageable it has been, even with a baby. My training plan is big on quality, not quantity, so it feels like I’m training all of the time, when in reality, I am just fatigued from my hard workouts. (I also talk about running all of the time, so to the people who love me, I am sure that it seems like running is all-consuming in my life. ;)) I am reading Jason Koop’s book Training Essentials for UltraRunning, and he says that one can properly train for an ultra with 6-9 hours of training a week. In that case, the hours need to be extremely well executed. I am definitely putting in more hours than the minimum Koop suggests is permissible, but it is still heartening to know that one can pursue big things without quitting his/her job and training all day long.
My training plan has runs scheduled almost every day and strength work about 3 times a week. On weekdays when I have a longer run, I try to get up and run before Cadence wakes up. If the run can be finished in an hour, I’ll often sleep a little later and bring her into the basement with me to play in her pack and play while I run on the treadmill. Most days, she is perfectly content to play while I run, and it is a fun treat for me to watch her. Other days, my husband waits for her to wake up and then brings her downstairs to join me. Ideally, I’d be running more outside and on trails, but in this stage of life, about half of my runs are on the treadmill and about half of my runs are outside on pavement. The drive time that it takes for me to regularly get to the trails is just too much extra time away from my family, and it becomes especially challenging with breastfeeding.
On the days that I do strength work, I try to wake up earlier to finish my run and complete about half of my strength training before work. Then, I’ll get home from work with Cadence and finish the rest of the strength routine. Strength work days are longer, and they do mean that we don’t eat dinner until later in the evening. The good thing is that Cadence is a great little workout buddy, and she crawls around the basement with me while I do my weights. We have “babyproofed” the basement as much as we can given that there are machines and weights everywhere, and it is really fun to watch her crawl around exploring. Every once in a while, she gets restless and I end up incorporating her into the routines. 🙂
My coach has suggested that I can do as much cross-training as I want, but not to let it interfere with my speedwork. The pre-baby Meridith would have been all over this, but I’ve found that balance requires that I limit the extras and just do the scheduled training as well as I can. I do some cross training, but it mostly involves “hiking” with Cadence in the jogger around my hilly neighborhood. I’ll have to increase cross training a little more as I approach peak training, but it’s been kind of refreshing to let the A-type perfectionist runner in me slack a little on the extras for now.
So all in all, training for a 100 mile race has not been a full time job, and I’ve found it incredibly rewarding. Jon patiently listens to me talk about training and racing, and he joins me on some of my workouts. I still have a lot of demands on me as a wife and a mother, but I’ve got a family who extends a lot of grace and support. At the end of the day, all of the responsibilities of house and home still apply even though there is a race on the calendar! I am definitely more focused as a mother runner, and I appreciate every mile. I also appreciate every moment that I get to play with Cadence and incorporate her into my training.
How do you balance training with family?