By Amanda Loudin
Before becoming a parent, most runners have a good amount of freedom for training. Yes, there are job, family, and social obligations, but for the most part, carving out time for their favorite hobby is something most runners can pull off pre-kids. In that state of ignorant bliss, these same runners assume that adding a child to the picture won’t change much—the baby will adapt to the schedule, and the runs will continue uninterrupted.
As most running parents will tell you, that’s a lovely fantasy. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and runners who want to continue training will make it happen. Parenting at any stage makes finding time for running a challenge, but these parents make it work.
In the Beginning
Washington, DC–based attorney Ariel Rayman, 39, is getting his first taste of life as a running parent. His baby boy was born last November, and Rayman and his wife have slowly been adjusting to running with kids.
Prior to becoming a father, Rayman ran several times each week, even completing the 2014 New York City Marathon. For now, however, those long-distance days are on hold. “The schedule has really changed,” he says.
Rayman and his wife—a shorter-distance runner, who also likes yoga and barre classes—both want time for their workout routines. This has meant forming a loosely structured schedule each week. “We need to make sure we both get our exercise in, so we do a lot of switching on and off,” he explains. “I typically get in two or three short runs after work and then something longer on the weekends. She usually takes classes on Mondays and Fri- days, so I’ll watch the baby then.”
Where Rayman used to put in 20-plus miles each week, he now averages somewhere around 15. But, he says, he’s become more efficient. “I make sure that the miles I run are quality miles,” he explains. “I haven’t seen much of a drop in my race times, so I guess it’s working.
At some time in the future, Rayman would like to get back to longer mileage but for now, he’s happy where he is. “We still keep an active lifestyle, so I know I’m in decent shape,” he says.
The Preschool Years
Mother of two Carly Pizzani, 38, of Burlington, VT, also understands the quality-over-quantity formula. A per- sonal trainer with 4- and 1-year-old sons, Pizzani leans on a combination of good communication with her hus- band and “flying by the seat of my pants,” she says.
At the center of her ability to run, however, has been a running stroller. “It’s a lifesaver for me,” she says. “I wouldn’t be able to get in the runs I need without it.”
Pizzani just finished a training cycle for the Ver- mont City Marathon and used the stroller when her el- dest was in preschool, timing her runs to her baby’s naps. For the most part, long runs happen on weekends. “This training cycle has definitely been challenging,” she ad- mits. “It’s hard because I haven’t been able to run as much as I would like.”
Her solution, like Rayman’s, has been to eliminate “junk” miles. “If I have the time to run, I make sure that run has a purpose,” she says. “I have to make the most of it.”
Pizzani admits she looks forward to a time when the schedule eases up and running becomes easier to fit in. “Sometimes it’s a miracle I get the run in,” she says. “It will be nice when I have enough time for more relaxing, unstructured running.”
Fifty-three-year-old Marcia Kadens, mother to 10- and 14-year-old girls, has been running since before her kids were born, so she’s experienced just about every stage of