Mother’s Day is here, and we want to pay homage to all you mothers out there who are teaching your kids to be healthy, active, and good stewards of the environment. It’s not an easy job. This month, Atayne 360 takes a look at mothers who are setting fantastic examples for their kids. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an Olympian or a mid-packer, your kids think you’re a hero.
Thanks, Moms (especially ours)!
One of the most common complaints I hear from other mothers is, "I never have time for myself. Everyone else's needs come first."
I can easily see how this becomes the case. Families are very demanding of our time. Is there ever a time in the life of a mother when there is not SOMETHING we need to be doing? Kids need help with homework. Kids need lunches packed, dinners made, and help building Lego towers. Laundry? Never done. House? Never clean. If you let yourself believe it, you could certainly be convinced that there is no time for you to go running.
I only started running after I became a mother, and I did so out of necessity for my own sanity (and I wanted those pre-pregnancy jeans to fit!). So for me, being a runner has always meant that I'm a mother runner. I'm a mom who runs. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty to be taking time out of the day to sneak out the door for a run, and yes, sometimes it pulls at my heart strings when one of my kids says: "You are going for a run again?" But I have come to learn that being a mom who goes running is good for the whole family. Here are four basic lessons I've learned during my life as a mother runner:
Be a role model to your kids.
My kids may lament the time I'm away from them when I'm running, but they have gotten very used to it. They know I disappear for thirty minutes or an hour in the evenings sometimes, and that I'm rarely home when they wake up on Saturday mornings. But, they are proud of me. They love to ask how many miles I just ran. They love to hold my medals when I get home from a race. They love to go running with me and have eagerly signed up for a few kids' fun runs when they get to "run like mommy." And, my all-time favorite is when my daughter took my marathon finisher's medal to school for show-and-tell. They know it is important to exercise, and they see me actually doing it. To me, the power of being a good example to my kids, someone who takes care of her body and achieves her goals, is way more important than the few hours a week I am away from them.
Put a training plan on the fridge.
I am a huge believer in working toward the goal of a race. Sign up for a 5K, a 10K, a half or full marathon, and print out the training plan and put it where everyone can see it. Make it known that you are training for something and that you need to stay on track. You teach your kids how to set a goal and stay on track to meet it. And, your family understands that you have to run a certain number of miles each week.
You're a better mommy after a run.
Running is a great tension release. After a few miles, you will feel the stress leave your shoulders, and your mind will start to quiet. It is an undeniable fact that running makes me a better mom. After a good run, I am calmer, more focused, and more ready and willing to tackle messy art projects, bake cookies or read a pile of books with my kids. A run gives me a chance to process all the things that are distracting me. When I walk back in the door, I might be sweaty, but I'm coming back in as a much more present person. I’m ready to give my attention to my kids. One of my favorite feelings in the world is when I shower and change into comfortable clothes after a hard afternoon run, and then settle into the evening routine with my kids. My muscles are humming, and my mind is clear.
Yes, you do have time.
Don't accept that there is no time for you. There is. Find it. Run before the kids get up or after they go to bed. Run during your lunch break or while your kids are at soccer practice. Run around the playground while they swing on the swings. When my husband is out of town for a weekend, I have even paid babysitters so that I can get my long runs in. The benefits of taking a little time to go running far outweigh the negatives. I mean, come on: the laundry is never going to be done anyway.
Lace up your shoes, kiss your children, and tell them "Mommy is going running." Everyone will thank you for it.
Emilie Manhart, www.onemominmaine.com, chronicles the triumphs and pitfalls of parenting two high-energy children while teaching full time, running marathons, and trying to put healthy meals on the table.
Debbie & Scott Livingston of Bolton, Connecticut are a team. They run. They bike. They race. In 2010, Scott finished the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii and raced 38 times in 2011. As a fitness professional, Debbie leads hikes, weekend woman's retreats and running programs. She also won five out of six ultras she entered in 2011, including the Laurel Highlands Ultra (77 miles), the Grindstone 100 and the Lookout Mountain 50 Mile.
On top of all that, they raise two children: a five-and-a-half year-old son and a two-and-a-half year-old daughter. As our Mother’s Day theme rolls on, here’s a “he said, she said” account of everyday life training and racing in the Livingston household.
On the difficulty of training:
Debbie: Finding the time and managing the logistics. We have a lot of "hand offs" and we do a lot of "squeezing it in." Racing at a high level while dealing with the stress of caring for young children. It is hard to keep your focus when you have the added worries.
Scott: There is no rest. We are constantly on the go. Lately, we haven't been able to train together. We save our babysitting "chips" for when we want to do a big trail race together. Deb's Mom has been great. She will come to many of the New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series races and watch the kids at the venue while we run. The warm-ups and cool-downs are usually short. We have been doing this kid thing for almost six years, and we have it down. We all wish we had more time to train, but we make the most of it. Our kids have been everywhere with us. Our son went to his first trail running race when he was two weeks old. He has been to more than 200 races on five continents since then. It's kind of crazy, but just the other day, he said, "I can't wait to go to another race."
On fitting athletic pursuits into their everyday life:
Debbie: Athletics is how I define myself. It is like brushing your teeth. It is what we do every day. It is also what I do for work. I help people become stronger and healthier.
Scott: I do these endurance sports for a lot of reasons. Most of them are personal, but I do get satisfaction knowing that others take up sport and outdoor pursuits because of something I did, said, or wrote. My blog is titled, "Life Adventures." It's as simple as that. I lead a healthy lifestyle because I want to be the best that I can be. I've strived to overcome "bad genes" and a bad family heart history by sticking with a strict fitness regimen. Sport is woven through everything we do. We don't really separate them. Horst Engineering supports endurance sports through sponsorship. We support conservation, outdoor recreation, and the environment through our philanthropy. Both Debbie and I frequently commute to work by bicycle, and occasionally on foot. Our athletic pursuits are prime subjects for my writing and photography, so the memories live on in one permanent form or another.
Do you keep training and racing separate?
Debbie: When it comes to friends and family, we avoid talking about it all of the time. We are racing nearly every weekend, but we do so much other stuff in between. We do a lot of stuff with our kids.
Scott: Yeah, a typical weekend for us was like the one we had last August when I did the USAT National Triathlon Championship in Burlington, Vermont. We stayed with friends the night before the race. We went to the local playground. We had a great meal. The following morning, I did the race. When it was over, we went to the Burlington Farmers' Market, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, walked through Middlebury, and then camped and hiked at Branbury State Park. So, we don't try to keep the sport separate from the rest of our life. We just fill our life with adventure. Sport is only one aspect. Of course, at work, the golf league results are more popular than my race results. It's no big deal.
On tips for other parents:
Debbie: Realize that you can't do everything and that you need to be flexible. You will have to adjust your training schedule. I prefer morning runs, but I did a lot of headlamp runs at night leading up to Grindstone. Have a good support system. We have relatives and friends who have been really helpful. Be conscientious of your children's needs. There is going to be some give and take. You are going to have to miss some races and workouts. Make an adventure around it. Surround your races with vacations and lots of time when your children get to choose what they want to do. Have your kids be part of the fun. Get them involved with crewing. Have them make signs to cheer on. The Ironman series races do a good job at getting kids involved. They know that families are making sacrifices to be there. Assign your kids tasks before a race. Let them pick a race or two to work towards so that they understand the thrill and benefits of working towards something.
Scott: Get a Chariot. It is the most amazing invention. We have a lot of miles on our CX-1 and CX-2. It has picking up the sports bug more and more, but so far, we haven't pushed them at all. They will decide what to pursue. Our role is to share our love for adventure and to help them learn as much as they can.been great for running, cycling, and snowshoeing. We have also made good use of our ERGOBaby Carriers. The Chariots and ERGOs have been crucial to staying active with kids and navigating race venues. Act normal when doing all of this stuff. The kids will think it is normal because they see it all of the time. I find that I am much more focused with my training because we have a busy family and work life. I have to say that I meet a lot of parents who: a) don't bring their spouses to events and b) don't bring their kids to events. I'm so fortunate to have a spouse who understands what I do. Over time, I see our kids
Any funny stories about racing with your kids?
Debbie: On the way to Grindstone 100 last October, we had a VW van full of gear and kids. We were towing our trailer with even more gear, and we ran out of gas. I had to entertain my kids for 90 minutes on the side of the road while my pre-race meeting was going on. I had to keep my son calm while 18-wheelers sped past at 80 MPH. Eventually, we got some gas and made it to the next exit. That was an adventure.
Scott: I've had too many incredible moments with my kids than I can recall. I've crewed so many races with the kids in tow. Recently at the TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hour trail ultra, I was crewing with my two kids. We had such a blast. We rode bikes, hiked, went to the playground, went to lunch, and I took 1,000 photos, all while Debbie was running 34.5 miles! It was a warm day and the guys were removing their shirts. A train of runners went by on the trail while we were on the course, and my daughter yelled, "Look, he's naked." Everyone was just cracking up. Like I said, we have had so many crazy moments with our kids at races. The Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc was an epic adventure. My son was one at the time, and I went through the Mont Blanc tunnel with him three times in 24 hours. Last year, at the Laurel Highlands Ultra, the three of us had a blast while Debbie ran 77 miles. Another recent crazy one was the Grindstone 100 last fall. I think my kids were as entertaining as the runners. They had everyone at the aid stations laughing hysterically. It's always their one-liners. They say the funniest things.
From State Champion to National Champion to Olympian to Mom, Blake Russell has earned each of these titles. And each has required training, hard work and perseverance.
Originally from Winston-Salem, NC, Blake was an 11-time state champion in high school and a two-time ACC champion while attending the University of North Carolina. After competing in the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in 2000 in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, Blake moved up to the marathon, winning her first, the 2003 Twin Cities Marathon. At the 2004 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trails, Blake finished a devastating fourth—missing the Olympic team by one place—but rebounded to finish third at the 2008 Trials. In Beijing, Blake finished 27th in the Olympic Marathon and was the only American woman to finish the race. Blake has also won multiple U.S. titles on the roads and in cross country, as well as a multiple World Cross Country Championship medals. Coached by Bob Sevene, Blake currently resides in Monterey, CA with her husband, Jon, and their son Quin, who is almost three. We caught up with Blake to talk about running at a world-class level and racing after the birth of her son.
Atayners: How is your running going now? What are you focusing on?
BR: Running lately has been a bit rocky. I am just coming back after a missing a month from some Achilles pain. It was bad timing, so I have missed a few key races. I had a good base and was feeling pretty fit before I got injured, so hopefully, I will rebound quickly. I am aiming for the 5,000 at the U.S. Olympic Trials and will run a race in May to qualify. I picked the 5,000 simply because I don't have another chance to qualify in the 10,000 meters, since I missed a race due to injury. Four years ago, I was 5th at the Olympic Trials in the 10,000, but I am looking forward to doing a new event.
Atayners: What was it like coming back to running after the birth of your son?
BR: The baby comeback was pretty brutal. I was really excited to start running and racing again while I was pregnant, but as soon as he was born, reality set in. He was a month early, so I literally nursed every 2 hours around the clock for a month. I was a walking zombie but determined to nurse. My mother-in-law said all her children were terrible sleepers, and I did what most moms do and told myself that Quin would be perfect. Ha ha. I never slept more than three hours in a row for 8 months. I was trying to run and train during this time, but workouts would wipe me out for days. I was in a huge hole until he started sleeping more at 8 months probably due to more standing and playing. I have a few highlights like making a World Cross Country Team and finishing top 5 at several national championships, but it has been a rough road since Quin was born.
Atayners: What does your son think of your job?
BR: I am not sure if Quin knows running is my job. He knows Dad goes to work. If you ask him what Dad does, he says, "He sings his ABCs and plays on the computer." A lot of times he does not want me to leave. I tell him that I need to practice, so I can be a fast runner and that it is good for my body. I guess in the long run I want him to see that exercise is important and fun. He always has a good time if he comes to practice with me. Luckily, my coach is like a grandfather to him and does not mind. Usually, they are climbing trees or playing in a creek as I run around a field.
Atayners: What's the hardest part about being a professional athlete and a Mom?
BR: No downtime! Luckily, Quin still takes afternoon naps, but if I want to get anything done around the house, it's my only opportunity. For instance, I used to have time to do some stretching or exercises and relax after a run, but now I am off to the park as soon I can get changed. It's hard when you don't have the relaxing time and just time off my feet especially if I am putting in high mileage or needing to run again in the afternoon. I also try and schedule second runs or weight lifting during his naps, so I can be back and have time with him. I am very fortunate to have my Mom live a few blocks away. She is always willing to come sit during naps and play until I get back.
Atayners: Do you have any training advice for mothers out there?
BR: I guess my advice would be the same for any runner: listen to your body. There is nothing worse that pushing so hard and working yourself into a hole. I try and take the approach that Quin comes first and work my schedule around him. A lot of the time that means I don't have time to run where I want to run or drive somewhere like I used to, but I just focus on getting a quality run in every time out the door. If we've had a rough night for some reason, I push a workout back or make sure I am not over-doing it and getting too tired. Basically, I work really hard to enjoy my solo running time and then totally focus on having fun with Quin afterward. I think moms need to be reminded that is ok to take some time for themselves.
You’ve mastered the balance of making time for both your training and your kids, but your kids still won’t eat their vegetables. That’s impossible! Not so, says Erin Dow, Expert Chef for Guiding Stars. Greek Yogurt Dip Base to the rescue!
What better way to get kids to eat their veggies than a tasty dipping sauce? This dip forms the basis for a variety of creamy dips that will please everyone in the family. It's low in fat and calories (under 70) but it's so high in protein--the blue cheese version has 6 grams of protein per 2 tablespoon serving--that the dip itself can provide a healthy dose of energy for lunches and snacks. Below the recipe you'll find Blue Cheese, Parmesan Peppercorn, and Ranch variations, but feel free to experiment with your family's favorite flavors. This dip can be refrigerated for up to a week.
2 c. non-fat Greek yogurt
1⁄3 c. water
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 tsp. finely minced garlic
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
3 T. finely chopped fresh chives
2 T. finely chopped parsley leaves
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Add flavoring of your choice from the variations below. Cover and refrigerate dip for at least two hours or preferably overnight to allow flavors to meld.
Blue Cheese Dressing: Base Recipe plus 3 T. crumbled blue cheese, 1⁄4 tsp. finely minced garlic, 1⁄2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, and a pinch of salt to taste.
Parmesan-Peppercorn: Base Recipe plus additional 1⁄2 tsp. coarsely cracked black pepper and 2T. grated parmesan
Ranch: Base Recipe plus 1/4 tsp. dried dill and 1/4 tsp. onion powder
About the author: Erin Dow is the mother of three children, ages 11, 10, and 6 and is the Expert Chef for Guiding Stars, a nutritional navigation system that evaluates the healthfulness of foods based on nutrient density. She consults with school nutrition programs on healthy kid-approved recipes and menu development with a focus on scratch cooked foods. She has been a chef for 15 years.
As we’ve heard from all these great moms (and dad!) above, their active lifestyles are setting great examples for their kids. However, not all kids are so lucky, and at Camp Atayne, we’re thankful for organizations such as Action for Healthy Kids.
Action for Healthy Kids addresses childhood undernourishment and obesity by working with schools to help kids learn to eat right and be active every day. Schools have a special ability to positively influence children and their families; schools are also responsible for providing nutrition and physical education and have many opportunities to promote healthy eating and active living.
Yet, schools have a lot on their plates and they can’t “do it alone.” This is where Action for Healthy Kids comes in. They partner with families, community members, professionals and business to support schools in this effort. They outline important steps that need to be taken to create healthier schools and healthier kids.
Please join Atayne in supporting Action for Healthy Kids. If you shop at Atayne.com during the next 30 days and use the promo code playitforwardhealthykids, we'll donate 10% of your purchase price to Action for Healthy Kids and cover your shipping costs.
Have an organization like Action for Healthy Kids in your area? Do you know of other organizations doing great things to promote healthy, active lifestyles? Let us know about it by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they could be featured here.
Atayne was excited to be part of the Bradbury Mountain Snowshoe Series this winter, but not as excited as the race director’s daughter to wear her Atayne shirt. Along with the shirt being enthusiastically modeled here, the snowshoe racers who completed all three races also earned the title of “Bradbury Snowshoe Bad Ass.” Who can argue with a two-year old bad ass?
Congratulations to April’s winner Mary C., who knew that an Atayne shirt travels under 600 miles during its production. That is less than 8% of the 8,000 miles a typical shirt travels!
Now on to May's question…
If you were to ask the mother of the founder of Atayne (Jeremy) if she is surprised he is in the running business, she would likely say, “I’m not surprised at all.” Why?