Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How to run with a baby

Well, first you have to find a safe and comfortable position in which to hold the baby. I used to put her on my shoulders but I found that branches from the shrubs lining the sidewalk would scratch her face so now I tuck her under my arm... yes, I'm kidding. Bad joke. But I am serious in that before I had said baby, I was curious to know the logistics of how running mommies well... run. So I thought I would share how I get my mileage (typically 70-100 km per week) in as a running mommy. I have four options (which is way more than I had as a childless working gal!).

Option 1: Get up obscenely early & run before hubby leaves for work. This is actually my favorite b/c I am usually up for a 5.00 am feed anyhow so it is not very onerous to head out the door rather than heading back to bed. As a bonus it means hubby spends alone time with baby when she is at her most cheerful. Fun for him, fun for her & less guilt for me! (see Option 2).

Option 2: Run when hubby gets home from work. I do this about once a week only b/c I have this amazing training partner who is only available to meet in the evening. His fitness level is perfectly matched to mine & the work-outs he does are compatible with my training style. As a bonus it gives me the chance to practice my Italian (though his English is perfect so if I get too oxygen deprived, I can switch languages). The downside of this is that evening is baby's crankiest time. I don't want to badmouth baby because she is truly wonderful and her crankiest time is far less fearsome than my crankiest time! But when she is crankiest she wants a breast... and although I leave breast milk behind it is just not the same so I feel guilty for putting hubby in that position and depriving her of comfort.

Option 3: Bring baby along in the baby jogger. I have actually only done this twice both in the past week in other words this is about to become a regular occurrence. I wanted to wait until she was at least 6 months old and now she is 7. This is hard, hard work. Maybe I just have to get used to it? But I think baby jogging adds 15-20 seconds to each kilometer. Also I feel it deteriorates my already incredibly poor form. I still need to experiment - jogger close to body? far from body? Give jogger a push and let arms swing free for a few strides? One major downside is that the sidewalks here were so NOT designed for my honking, behemoth of a baby jogger. Clearly the makers of this jogger pictured wide stretches of deserted, suburban road. Not crowded, narrow Italian sidewalks which are the scene for much of the social life here (it seems) and also serve as back-up parking in a city which was built far before the automobile was ever thought of. Inevitably I come up behind people and say in my quiet, uncertain, shy way "permesso"... which they never hear. Then louder. Then louder. Now I am at a standstill, baby jogger wheel nipping at their ankles and finally (because I cannot seem to modulate my voice) BELLOW "PERMESSO!" at which point they turn, see the baby which then means I have to to stop for a minute or so while they coo and admire the baby (the stereotype is true... Italians of all walks of life LOVE, really really really LOVE babies). Anyway the above scenario repeats 10-20 times per run which makes it not all that efficient. Plus I feel like the ugly foreigner with my honking jogger on the sidewalk because clearly sidewalks here are used in a different way than back home and part of me thinks I should respect that and not impose my baby jogger on them. All that being said, I will continue to baby jog.

Option 4: The dreadmill. Yes I am spoiled in that I have a treadmill in my house. The plus side of this is that I don't miss baby time b/c I use it while she sleeps (mostly see below). The downside, other than the sheer mind blowing boredom... though sometimes I manage to study Italian while running on it, is my paranoia. I jump off the treadmill every 5-10 minutes to check whether baby is awake and crying b/c I cannot hear her over the motor. My PB is 12 minutes without checking on her. I have never found her crying but I have often found her awake and happily chatting to herself at which point I usually bring her into the bedroom with me and put her on our bed with some toys while I finish up. She plays, I run. Sometimes I sing... shout more than sing to be heard over the motor and that is a work-out in and of itself!

All in all I find it easier to get in mileage as a stay at home mom than I did when I was working (partly b/c my work involved way too much travel). I know the real challenge lies ahead when I am a working, running mommy.

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