Running Through Parenthood: More Tips From my dailymile Friends on How to Stay Active With a Baby in the House

About three weeks ago, just a few days after my son (third child) was born, I posed the following question to my friends on dailymile:

Help a new parent!!! As a father of a newborn, I’m looking for suggestions of how to handle training with a baby in the house from those who have been through it (mom advice wanted too!). I’d love to hear ideas from all of you about this. If you have suggestions (for both mom and dad), you can leave them as a comment here, or send me a message.

Clearly, this was a subject that people were interested in, and I received a number of great suggestions from my fellow dailymilers. I’ve already posted an extensive list of exercise tips from Christina H. as its own post, but thought that I’d post the other responses that I received as well. Here they are:

  • Paul S. – I trained for my first marathon with a newborn in the house and just had to get up before anyone else was awake and put in the miles; this meant some really early mornings.
  • Humberto R. – The most important thing is coordination with your wife – create a schedule and stick to it. And early mornings are better to train because less things are happening. In my case, I didn’t have enough energy in the evening to train.
  • Linda A. – As a mom of five children (who at one time were all under ten), and with a husband who was always deployed, I had to get out before everyone got up. Also, as soon as you are able to, get the baby out in a jogging stroller. When we were in Germany, I used to push the two little boys (who are now 18 and 19) in a running stroller. Rain or shine (used the rain guard), I was out. I would pack a snack in a baggie (cheerios, Life), a water bottle each (with sipper lids), small toys (like bubbles), etc.
  • Teri S. – I didn’t train like I do now, but I would get up about 5AM, put a run in, come back and shower, and then go back to bed while my husband got up and got ready for work. The jogging stroller helped too. And sometimes I would have to leave for a run while one of them was crying – that was tough, but my husband would always say that they were fine once I was gone. It gave them an opportunity to bond. I was home with them all day, and I needed the break. I think it helped me to be much more patient and balanced.
  • Israel R. – It will require lots of dedication. Sit down with your wife and map your day, and find those spare times and decide when it will be the best time for you to train without causing anyone any inconvenience. You have to make the best out of that free hour. Or, like Paul said, suck it up and get up extra early so you’ll have time for your training and the rest of the day for the most important thing in your life…family. We have a 3 year old who goes to daycare. Last year and part of this year I was the only driver so I had to drive everyone, leaving me very little time to do much. The day was all rush rush… so I opted for running during my lunch hour. On occasion, I would coordinate a night run with my wife. Now my wife drives us to daycare and work leaving me with no car, and waiting for her for an hour after work to be picked up, so rather than sit and wait, I run during that hour. Like I said,. you have to make the best out of every single spare moment you get during the day.. and having an understanding wife also helps, but remember, the understanding part works both ways.. ;-)
  • Justin T. – Open dialogue with your wife that running is still important to you and that you need to find some time here and there, but recognition on your part that running is low priority and you’ll be able to train more seriously again in the years ahead.
  • Greg S. – Flexibility is paramount – nothing is predictable about a newborn’s schedule, so you have to take advantage of free time when it comes (and not count on it lasting). Just make sure that you communicate with each other on what you plan to do, so you continue to support each other’s goals.
  • Chris – My wife and I communicate our time commitments through synced calendars on outlook and blackberry. This helps us know what our expectations are when we don’t have time to discuss them in detail. This can also be accomplished through google calendar and Iphones if you so choose. I think communication is huge. As is Greg’s note about flexibility.
  • Ultrastevep – It’s been 30 years since I went through this, but I got up real early and ran….or ran to and from work. I also ran sleepy tired a lot ;-) Good luck!
  • Sean L. – for me it was letting go of the idea that you have to be rested to get a run in – I always run in the morning.
  • Tom W. – All these posts have one thing in common… lack of sleep! It’s a challenge, but it can be done. Running at night when everyone is in bed helped me a lot. Good luck.
  • Jeff C. – Only way for me, is first thing in the morning…. I have 3 girls 6 and under… The Youngest just turned 2… If you try at the end of the day, between older kids, wife, and the desire to see your new born, it will be impossible … at least it is for me. I feel like I’m taking time away from my family if I do it after I get home from work. My long run on Saturday is my only compromise, but I’m still out the door at the latest by 6…. (5 mostly during the week)….
  • Brad B. – I don’t want to be the negative one of the bunch here, but you need to be realistic with your training goals and timeline as well. You’re going to miss a lot of workouts, can’t be helped, so don’t expect to PR any races or try on any new distances for the next 6 – 10 months. Your fitness will probably fall off a bit, you might gain a little weight. Get the workouts in when you can and don’t lose any sleep over the missed ones.
  • David H. – I ran a half marathon a little more than four months after my son was born — it was the most rewarding experience ever to prove so many people wrong. All I have ever heard are some things I’m seeing on here that you’ll miss this or that and don’t do this or that. As your baby gets on a schedule, you make your schedule around the baby. As we got a fairly regular routine going with my baby, he would go down around 7 p.m. So I made the switch to becoming an evening runner and ran/worked out after 7.
  • Juryduty – The best thing you can do is communicate with your spouse about when you want to run (preferably before everyone’s up) so they can get on board with you. But then realize there will be mornings she’s had only a couple hours of sleep and she just needs you to stay there and take the kids. And if there is any way you can take a child or two with you (jogging stroller, etc), that should really help make it smooth too. Just don’t forget, the first year is ALWAYS the hardest. It will get easier! :P
    PS – Don’t forget that mom will probably be wanting to exercise, too. If you can make a specific time for her to get her exercise time in, it’ll me motivation for her to do the same for you!
  • Nick P. – I had to do this all winter as my son was born in January. I ran very early in the mornings or very late at night or whenever he napped. The sleep deprivation doesn’t help, but the running reduces the stress. Overall, my best advice is when your baby is napping, it’s the ideal time to squeak a run in
  • Susan D. – I have 3 children and was best able to get in the runs in the early morning hours, before anyone got up…and I was definitely half asleep during lots of those runs!
  • Kmc – I’m 6 months pregnant with my 3rd, I have been thinking about this same question myself – thanks for asking it! I’m so amazed at all the responses. My cavaet will be nursing the baby. Fortunately for the baby and my husband, I won’t be able to run after the c-section until 5? weeks postpartum. But, then, I am off and running. I never ran with the other two, but after talking with my husband a lot, we agreed to ask family to buy us a BOB stroller. I’ve been working 2 jobs for 4 years, so he and I agree that compromising on a schedule that works for both of you is best. On the days that I cannot find time to run, I get up at 5AM while everyone is sleeping…my fear with the new baby is waking it up by accident when I leave and then the whole house will be up at 5am :-). Best of luck working it out. ALL families are different, and you will figure it out!
  • John K. – I’ve been getting up at 4:30 since my second was born. Not easy, but neither is going without a run.
  • Curt F. – I fit my runs in commuting to work. 4 miles each way got me on my way to doing a 50 miler. Not for everyone’s situation but it sure helped me.
  • Dan R. – I agree with many others here. schedule, routine and the expectation from your spouse as to when your run will occur is huge. Of course, it won’t be perfect. Maybe a slight perspective change as well that your #1 goal right now is not running, it’s that little bundle.
    I always run at night the moment after I put my boys to bed. My weekend long run is the only time I sacrifice family time.
  • Jacky C. – Sorry this is late but ORGANIZATION is the key. Get a huge calendar and just plan your runs. Obviously if baby or mommy are not “well” it might have to be postponed but planning ahead should help fit your runs in! Good luck and congrats on the new baby!

As you can see, dailymile is a great resource for getting helpful information like this, and if nothing else, it lets me know that others have gone through exactly what I am going through right now. I’ve found myself implementing many of these suggestions – for example, I’ve been mostly running at night lately right after I put my “big” kids to bed. I also try to not let it get to me if I miss a run – as was mentioned above, it’s important to put the needs of the family first, and although at times it can be hard to not have the freedom that I did just a few months ago, I’m managing the best I can. I’ll probably try to put either a post or podcast together in the next few months outlining more of my own approach to getting my runs in during these hectic times.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. juddrumely says:

    Pete, your doing great. I have three, 6-4-2. You know this but you make time to get’r done. My wife and I use “nap time” to get our runs in.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Yep, that’s what you have to do. Be flexible, and take your runs whenever
      you can get them. It’s very hard to plan ahead!

      Pete

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