Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Training for a marathon with a small child

In exactly two months from today on October 7th, Jean-Louis and I will be running the Victoria marathon. OMG.

How are we doing in our training? Just alright. We had two long runs so far. One 21km three weeks ago and then 17km just this past weekend. Next weekend, we are scheduled to run 25km. Yikes! The night before every long run, I kind of get scared. Honestly, it never gets easier. Every run is hard work. Our time may improve but it is always hard.

Two and a half weeks ago, we both injured ourselves. Jean-Louis hurt his leg from too much biking and running and now has to run with a compression band. He was limping around the first few days after his injury so it must have been bad. Then again it was reckless of him to run 21km and then go on a 85km bike ride the following morning. As for my injury, it was probably equally dumb. I threw my back out throwing heavy garbage. GARBAGE! I couldn't run for about a week. It hurt so bad, I could hardly take care of myself. I had to apply heat to it several times a day. When I started running again, I was so tensed Jean-Louis said that I looked constipated. Lol. With both our injuries we had a bit of a set back in our training. Unfortunately these things do happen :( Fortunately for us the timing was just about the same time. We train together so it worked out well that we both had to rest at the same time.

For those who don't know, Jean-Louis is my husband and we have raced together and have always done so since 2002. With the exception of the Vancouver half-marathon this past May, we have been in every running race together. This marathon in Victoria will be our second marathon. We ran our first marathon nearly 9 1/2 years ago in Paris. Since then we have been running a lot less but what really makes this a challenge for me is that I'm a mom now and quite a bit heavier than before. I have also been eating more sweets in the past few years since becoming a mom and I'm much older. Ahem. Jean-Louis, on the other hand, is in top shape. He has never been more fit and he weighs less than me now! I'm not kidding. He's totally going to kick my butt in the race!

There are many marathon runners out there who are also parents of small children. Some times it's just the one parent who runs, which would mean the other parent could stay with the child or children. If both parents are runners, they could take turns running marathons. I think taking turns training and running the same marathon would be too time consuming since that would take twice as much time. If both parents run, the child or children have to come along for the training runs. I think that is the only simple solution. That is what we do when we go for long runs.

When we trained together for the half-marathon in Victoria last year, I thought it was hard. We were running 5km and no more than 10 or 11km to train for that. Finding time to run was hard since we are parents to Tristan and we didn't want to drag him along for running all the time. Running 10km would mean about 1 hour in the stroller for him. Luckily, we only had to do that maybe once some times twice a week and he didn't complain very much. We thought even if we wanted to, there would be no way we could possibly find time to train for anything bigger than a half-marathon. A full marathon would be totally out of the question! Sigh. When we registered for the race, we told ourselves we would worry about finding the time to train when the time came. Apparently, if there is a will, there is a way.

 Here is how we are training for our marathon with our 3.5 year old in tow:
Second Beach in Stanley Park
  • We continue to run twice a week after Jean-Louis gets home from work. We do between 8-10km during those days and as usual, we run directly to daycare to pick Tristan up. The daycare staff are used to seeing us covered in filthy sweat but so what? :)
  • Every other weekend, we go for a long run from home all the way downtown to Stanley Park. We push Tristan in our jogging stroller. For the moment, he seems okay with it. We stay mainly on the BC Parkway trail under the skytrain and then we take the river run to the park. When we arrived at the park, it's 20km. By the way, the route we take is a beautiful run going from east to west and slightly downhill along the way :) The idea is to add 2km to every weekend run until we run 30km non-stop. 30km would mean arriving at Stanley Park and then continuing to run once around it. After the 30km milestone, we go down in distance.
  • We carbo-load during the week we are scheduled for a long weekend run.
  • We take our 3.5yo out for a lot of outdoor activities like biking and playing at the water park to make up for holding him hostage in the stroller. No, it's not that bad! :) He hasn't complained much at all since we have been telling him about it in advance and have been explaining to him about our race. With Stanley Park and downtown as our destination, he is able to have fun when we're all done. The first time we ran down, he played at the playground and then at the spray park. The second time, we went to the veg festival downtown. We always skytrain back home and he loves riding the skytrain! Next time we run down, we might go to the Vancouver Aquarium at Stanley Park.
Spray park in Stanley Park
We never thought it would be possible but so far it's going well. We are very lucky to have a 3.5 year old that will sit patiently inside a stroller for over 2 hours. We bring books and snacks for him. We usually set out first thing in the morning so he eats his breakfast cereal and fruit in the stroller. We get him to drink his milk and pee before we leave the house though. Some times I feel bad for keeping him in a stroller for so long but then again, we have taken road trips where he has been in the car for even longer. I think sitting in a stroller would be more fun than sitting in a car seat anyway. Don't you agree? :)

We're no pros. We are not following any training program. Everything we do is just based on what has been working for us in the past. The list above is actually a better training plan than the one we had back when we were still in our twenties. Back then we ran races to train. Since we couldn't find any races past a 21km half-marathon, we never ran anything more than 21km before running the full marathon (42km). We did fine but it's kind of dumb now that I think about it.


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