TIPS to get your Toddler to sit in the RUNNING STROLLER with out an IPAD or device.

ZOE joined us today for our stroller run, and it was the best – just like old times!

Zoe was my first little running buddy. I ran with her starting when she was six months old. I trained for the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon with her sitting in the stroller.

However, lately, when I run with the double BOB, it’s just Ava in there. Why? Well for one, instead of swapping out for my single, the double is way more convenient. And two, the last time I ran with both girls, I ended in a major time crunch which left me stressed and caused Zoe to have a total melt down. It was so bad, that I told myself, “THAT IS IT!!!” Zoe has out grown stroller running, and our running journey has come to an end. I remember whispering under my breath, “I’ll just take Ava with me, for now on.”

Stroller running is easy and fun when you have one child under 18 months old. But when you have two children along for the ride, and one is over the age of two, it is HARD and extremely TIME consuming. The simple days of lacing up my shoes and running out my front door is long gone. I now have to bring all the stuff and gear, and enough time to avoid a tantrum.

Today, however, we had no obligations and all the time in the world. The sun was shining and although a little cold, there was no snow, ice, rain … it was actually perfect weather for a nice winter run.

When Zoe woke up she asked me, “Mommy, What are we going to do today?” I told her, “We are going to hit up the running trail. It’s too gorgeous of a winter day, to not go. I don’t want you to miss out.” I told her, that it’s been a long time since we ran together, and that I miss running with her. I told her that I love running with her and that she makes me so happy when she comes along.

Then we started our day. I filled her belly with a bagel. We went to Barnes & Noble on her request to play with the toys and books. After I gave her, her turn, I told her it was time for my turn, and off to the running trail we went.

I let her bring crayons and paper so she would keep busy. I bundled Ava up, and wrapped Zoe in a blanket and placed them both in the running stroller.

I then placed the weather shield over the stroller to shield the cold and the wind. I told Zoe it was her little fort. She called it her tent and was super excited to try it for the first time.

The combination of having a full belly and being warm and cozy under the weather shield, wrapped in a blanket made her happy and comfortable. Plus having crayons kept her busy.

Yay! It worked. Zoe was happy in the stroller. Ava fell asleep. And, I had a lovely successful run, with my two girls. It was definitely hard work pushing my three year old and my ten month old, but totally worth it.

I personally will never give my child an iPad while running. (If you do, you do you!) But for me, No, I won’t do it! In my eyes, there is just something so wrong about being glued to an iPad while playing outside.

Plus, there are a couple of lessons I’m trying to teach my girls by running.

First things first, PASSION. I’m trying to show my daughters what it means to live a healthy active lifestyle. I’m teaching them what it means to be passionate about something, in hopes that they will follow their passions one day. When I train for races, I’m teaching them about goal setting, hard work, and commitment. When I told a non mother runner, this, she chuckled – but guess what, it’s never to early or young to teach these things.

Second thing, PATIENCE. I’m teaching patience, sometimes in life we need to wait. The longest stroller run I have done is 8 miles, however, normally I’m taking the babes with me on short 3-5 mile runs, saving my long runs for my “me time” on the weekends.

30-50 minutes is not that long at all. Any child can sit patiently for 30-50 minutes, plus I normally take a sip of water half way, if the babes are not napping by then, I check on them, and tell them the plan. “Mommy’s drinking water, and turning around now to head back to the car/home.” I offer them a drink and snack before turning back.

Third lesson is taking turns. Lately, instead of heading out for a run first thing in the morning, I’ve been spending the morning focused on what my babes want to do – Playing at Barnes and Noble, going to Story Time at the Library, etc. Then I tell them, “Okay, you had your turn, now it’s mommy’s turn.” I also tell them if we hurry and get our running done, we can go to the playground after if we have time. No problem at all with bribing them with the playground.

With all that being said, I have had a lot of people ask me tips to share of how I get Zoe my three year old to sit patiently in the stroller while I run.

We definitely went through a phase around two years old, where she did not want to sit in the stroller. She wanted to do the running part. The minute we arrived to the trail, she would tell me, “I’m going to walk, mommy! Okay?” When I would try to put her in the stroller she would fight it, and pout. Sometimes, she didn’t want to get buckled in and she would try to stand up in the stroller. It finally came to the days where I was running with her less and less, because it became so time consuming and it was an exhausting and a challenge just to get her to sit down and stay seated for 30 minutes. That was two, and that was a phase. Again I never handed her an iPad, I actually just stop taking her. I would arrange my runs later in the day when my husband was home.

Now that she is three years old things are much different. She really gets the concept of taking turns. I can reason with her much easier. So let’s get to it…

These are the TIPS that have worked best for my babes and I.

One PREPARE: Zoe is three years old. No matter the age, days always go much smoother if we follow a regular routine. At age three, she feels comfortable and confident when she knows what we are doing for the day, our schedule, our plan. I spend the hours leading up to the time we run, preparing her, letting her know that we are going to the running trail, and running a couple of miles. I tell her what I expect from her. If we are going early morning, I let her know the night before, and go over the plan as part of her bedtime routine.

Two – Engagement: If I find that Zoe is getting bored while we are out on the run, I start engaging with her, maybe even play a game of Eye Spy, pointing out different things on the trail. I’m hoping once Ava gets a couple months older the two sisters will engage with each other.

Three – Play Games: As I said above, one of our favorite things to do is play Eye Spy. We have seen plenty of baby ducks, turtles, spider webs, interesting flowers, birds, and even a snake, while playing Eye Spy. Another fun game is Simon Says.

Four – Taking Turns: At three years old, especially because Zoe goes to preschool, she understands that it’s mommy’s turn to do something. Or I will tell her that her sister, Ava, is just a baby and loves stroller rides... “It’s Ava’s turn, now!”

Five – Bribery: Sometimes I need to use good old fashion bribery. I tell Zoe that after our run, I’ll give her a special treat. Normally it’s a trip to the playground, or we will go feed the ducks, or I’ll give her a small piece of chocolate.

Six – Snacks: I always make sure Zoe has a snack to munch on, or just ate so her belly is full. During the summer to keep her cool, I give her a popsicle. It becomes a huge sticky mess, but she loves it. I just wipe her and the stroller down after.

Seven – Activity: I let her bring an activity, such as a small note book with stickers or crayons. Play dough to sculpt or during the summer, bubbles to blow. Sometimes bubbles spill and get messy, but it doesn’t bother me, I just wipe her down after. Again an activity will keep her busy.

Eight – Helper: Some days I’ll ask Zoe to be my helper. I’ll let her carry and keep track of my water bottle.

Nine – Seasons: In the DC area we have four distinct seasons. I run through all of them. This winter, I started using the weather shield on the stroller, Zoe loves it and calls it her tent. In the spring, the weather will be nice, and I’ll point out beautiful flowers on the trail. Zoe normally loves going on runs with me on beautiful days. In the hot summer, I normally take off her shoes and put cold water where her feet rest on the stroller. It creates a pool for her feet where she can splash. In the fall, I normally point out the different colors the trees have turned and I let her pick out a cool, colorful leaf.

Ten – Nap Time: Not all three years olds are still napping, but if we had a busy morning of playing, or I just picked up Zoe from preschool, sometimes she will get tired and fall asleep in the stroller. Most of time on our stroller runs, Ava is snoozing. So some days, it’s all about choosing the right time to run.

Eleven – Independence + Inclusion: I let Zoe climb into get stroller herself, and buckle herself in. Honestly, she is a little big now, so some days I let her sit without being buckled. I also let her choose the direction we run in. “Which way should we go?” “Should I turn around or keep going!?

Twelve – Variety: If possible we change our running route. This keeps things interesting.

Thirteen – Communication + Listening: Most of the time, when Zoe has a meltdown it’s because of a miscommunication or I wasn’t listening. One time, we had a lovely run on the trail, I let her out of the stroller to pick some fall leaves, then she climbed back in her stroller and we headed back to the car. Once we were back at the car, she had a meltdown, and didn’t want to go home, didn’t want to leave the trail, didn’t want to get buckled in her car seat. Turns out after all the kicking and screaming, all she wanted to do was run herself. She told me she didn’t get a turn to run, and that all she wants was to run with me. A tantrum could have been avoided if I had understood that she expected to do some of her own running after I was finished with mine.

Fourteen – Safety: When Zoe requests to get out of the stroller, in the middle of a run, in most cases I have to say no. When she asks why, I explain to her the running trail is to dangerous because there are cyclists or bike commuters. Or it could be getting dark and I need to get us back to the car before the sun sets. If we aren’t on the trail and we are doing city or neighborhood running, I talk about the dangers of busy roads and cars. The stroller keeps you safe.

Fifteen – Thankful: I always tell Zoe how much I love running with her. I always thank her after for coming along.

*A tip that I have yet to try is time. I have thought about giving Zoe a watch or timer so she can be a part of keeping track of how much time we run. Counting the numbers go down, or waiting for the timer to go off is another way she could be engaged, and included. I love numbers and watching my pace or time on my watch, so why wouldn’t she?!

So those are the things I have tried, and found successful!

Also remember I have been running with Zoe since she was six month old, so she is pretty use to the idea of stroller running. I have been running with Ava since she was 8 weeks old and she absolutely loves it. I find the sooner you start running with them and make it part of your morning routine the more successful you will be.

Good luck and always remember if you want to stroller run with your toddler, make sure you have plenty of time, just in case things don’t go as planned.

Also if you are having a difficult time convincing a toddler to sit patiently or come along with you, some mother runners just don’t give their child a choice. It’s time to run, and that’s that! I understand that this is the only option for single mamas, parents that run together and don’t have child care, or just a parenting style. Personally, my goal is to never make the stroller or running a negative experience so that doesn’t work for us.

With that being said, don’t give up! If you are having a difficult time convincing a toddler to sit in the stroller and go running with you, it may just be a phase. If possible give running together a break and then randomly try it again. I find that around age two, kids want to do all the running and walking by themselves, but around age three they cry and pout that they don’t want to walk and are excited to climb in their stroller and take a seat. So don’t give up. Kids go through phases. Try again. One day they may hate it or just don’t feel like going along, but another day they might love it!

Good luck! Hope this helps! Happy Running!

Marine Corps Marathon 2018 : Race Recap

“So he educated me on the long run…

The Marathon is an energy game… a game he had my attention. Going out to hard and surging wastes energy. You want to be smooth and economical. In the long run we are training the body’s energy system, to more readily burn fats over carbohydrates. You see this kind of efficiency in animals that migrate long distances, whales and birds notably- who glide with minimal movement slowly releasing their energy.”

~ Deena Kastor

My white board which hangs from my fridge reminds me of my mantras, as I head out the door … I whisper to myself… Fight + Keep Moving Forward, celebrate my pace every five miles, smile + run happy.

Here I am again, walking over to the Pentagon, under the dark early morning sky, waiting for the sun to make an appearance. Ready to toe the line at the Marine Corps Marathon, for the 5th time.

This time is a little different than the last. Last time, I had a solid training cycle, starting when Zoe was 10 months old ending when she was 14 months. I was able to fit in seven weeks of strength training after my c-section to rebuild my core, before attempting to run. Then I had seven months to build a solid base. I had three previous races under my belt, two ten milers, and a half marathon – in which I broke 2 hours. I set a new PR in the marathon.

This time, I only raced one race previously, the Navy Half Marathon, which I used as a time trial. Making it to the finish line in 2:10, I knew that realistically I could finish the marathon around 4:20:00.

This time around, Zoe – my very smart and energetic three year old, and Ava my “cuddle bug,” 7 month old baby, keeps me busy. Plus, I only had 5 weeks to base build after my c-section recovery. No time to strength train or work on speed. And now on race day, I am only 7 months postpartum, still breastfeeding, a mother of two.

There has been plenty of busy days, and sleepless nights. But I made it! I managed to fit in another marathon training cycle. Although, not as consistent as what I normally accomplish, the work still got done.

On race day, I quietly walk over to the start. I follow all the other runners. I over hear them nervously chatting among themselves, as I reflect on my training, and run through my game plan for the race. I continue to whisper to myself, “When things get tough I will … Fight, keep moving forward, celebrate my pace every 5 miles, smile, run happy.”

This is NOT a goal race for me, so no pressure to PR. I used this marathon training cycle, to regain my fitness after pregnancy, plus I was desperately craving the long run.

I recently listened to the interview of Paula Radcliffe, on the I’ll Have Another Podcast. She is the Marathon World Record holder, running it in 2:15:25. In the interview, she talks about the importance of building season upon season. One marathon training cycle and marathon is part of a series of steps, to your next goal race. So often, we focus to hard on one race, never thinking about the future ones or the big picture.

There is a season for everything. And this season is not about setting a new marathon PR, but rather regaining my fitness after pregnancy, and learning how to balance my life while including my two passions – running + motherhood.

This season Marine Corps Marathon, marathon number 5, is one of the series of steps to build upon. During this Marine Corps Marathon, I’m running for the experience. Instead of racing right passed everything, it’s time to take in the whole race – high five every Marine’s hand and thank them, gain energy from the spectators, laugh at every funny sign or T-shirt. Next marathon I’ll run for speed.

This whole marathon training cycle, I consistently, just showed up, to see what I could do. Now, I’m at the start of the Marine Corps Marathon, doing the same thing showing up to see what I can do. Let’s go!

THE START

After standing in the porta potty line waiting behind forty so other runners, I begin to run to check my bag. The porta potty line was moving so slowly I wonder if I’m going to miss the race. Finally at bag check, I meet my dad and we head to the corral. It’s pretty cool to run this marathon with my dad! I’m excited to cross the finish line with him.

My dad and I get down to the start, but it’s already crowded, we zig zag between people, but the best we can do is squeeze in at the 4:45 corral. Normally, I would have stood with the 4:15 corral or even the 4 hour, but it’s so crowded, so this will have to do.

Just as in years in the past, standing around in the corral waiting for the gun to go off, brought on all the exciting energy. I really love a big race. Nothing feels better than running a marathon on a beautiful day, with 35,000 other runners. It feels amazing.

Miles 1-5

Finally I hear the gun go off and the race begin.

Our first mile is slow, but I’m glad, because I want to give my husband a little more time to get my babies to mile 2, where they will be waiting and cheering. Down 110, through Rosslyn, up the Lee Highway hill. I spot them smiling!

A quick photo with Daddy and Ava, and I’m off again! (Ava’s first time cheering mommy on. Zoe didn’t want a picture.) Next time I will see them is in Crystal City at mile 22.

Mile 3-4 , we are looping around Spout Run, down and over the Key Bridge – leaving Virginia and entering DC. The Key Bridge is so beautiful to run over. Mile 5, the crowd support in George Town is over the top. So far we are running a pretty steady pace, and there is enough space to zigzag around some people, but still I pay attention to the fun. For example this runner dressed up in a Red Skins outfit dragging a Cowboy’s jersey.

MILE 6-10

Up Rock Creek and then down, to Hains Point. When mile 10 approaches I yell to my Dad, “double digit time!” Still feeling really good.

MILE 11-15

At mile 12, Blue Mile makes an appearance. The mile is lined with American flags, and photos of military men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country and freedom. It’s quiet, and emotional.

MILE 16-20

Running along the National Mall, Washington, DC is always a treat. The view of the monuments take my breath away. It reminds me of how lucky I am to live in the DC area.

At mile 16, as I’m running, I tell my dad, “All we have is four more miles until we make it to the bridge, and leave DC entering into Virginia.” Once I run passed mile 17, I tell myself, “Back to single digits. Only 9 more miles to go.”

Soon I see the bridge – the 14th Street Bridge, mile 20. Two marines stand there yelling, “Time to Beat the Bridge.”

On the bridge, I start to hit the wall and start to walk. My legs and mind need it. It’s sunny and windy, but I know I have to get down to Crystal City looking good, so I start running again… My two running groups are cheering in Crystal City, and my husband, GiGi, and babies will be there too – can’t wait to see them.

Finally, off the bridge, nothing feels better approaching Crystal City. I’m out of DC, and back in Virginia. I’m passing mile 21, and I think to myself… “Only five more to go, my five mile easy run.”

Mile 21 – 22 is impossible to miss, my Oiselle team is there waiting to cheer … at their famous cowbell corner. I hear them screaming my name – “MEGHAN!!!” They are the brightest, loudest, and most electric, group I know. I high-five every single one of them. Their energy LIFTS ME UP and I truly begin to soar high.

Among the crowd I see a neighbor, so fun to say hello to another familiar face.

I keep going looking desperately for my husband, GiGi, and babies. They are here outside of Good Stuff Eatery. It’s like a mosh pit of people, so I was afraid I might miss them… but then there they are. After some quick hugs and sweaty kisses, I continue on.

As I approach the turn around, on Crystal Drive, I hear my name again… “MEGHAN.” It’s my friend Raiza and MRTT (Mom’s Run This Town) group. After a big hug, and asking if I need anything, she yells, “Go, Go, Go.” And I begin to run faster to the finish.

MILES 23-26.2

I feel a second wind, a burst of energy. It’s amazing how the excitement and positivity from spectators can really up lift you and get you moving. Now my dad and I are leaving Crystal City, and heading to 110.

On 110, I see the finish line in the far distance. It’s time to count street signs. To the Memorial Bridge street sign, I whisper to myself… the finish line is right passed that sign.

Then up the hill, we climb.

And the finish line is so close I can taste it. Finally my feet run over the finish, my dad right by my side. A Marine places a heavy red finishing medal around my neck.

We are Marathoners, #5 done for me and number 30 something for my dad.

On October 28th, 2018, I ran across the finish line proudly, of the Marine Corps Marathon for the 5th time. I showed up to see what I could do, and at 7 months postpartum, I finished 26.2 miles in 4:44:21.

My goals for this race were to fight, keep moving forward, celebrate my pace every five miles, smile, and run happy… so that’s what I did.

Goal accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

FUTURE GOALS

Although, I’m still smiling and running happy, I’m already thinking about my next marathon, my next season. And next time there’s going to be less smiling and more speedy miles accompanied with a whole lot of GRIT! Stay tuned!

CONGRATULATIONS

A special Congratulations to everyone who ran/raced the Marine Corps Marathon this year. And also congrats to those who ran/raced a fall marathon!