At 4:30 a.m., the alarm clock blares. Sarah Henning slithers out of bed and heads to the basement of her home in Lawrence, Kansas, where a stationary bike awaits.
She's a workout fanatic—and more importantly, a mom. Once her son was born, she found that finding time to work out needed a little more creativity.
So Henning gets up well before sunrise and rides for 90 minutes each weekday morning ("Yes, it sucks," she says, "but it's totally worth it"). Then, through a series of negotiations, sacrifices and compromises with her husband (who also works out frequently), she manages to lift weights on Tuesday night, run on Wednesday and Thursday nights and get a workout in on both Saturday and Sunday too.
That's 10 workouts total, in addition to working full-time and being a wife and mother. It takes a good support system, great time-management skills and a whole lot of desire to get it done. But it can be done.
"We both race a lot more now," said Henning, who does ultramarathons. "I did eight races last year...The hubby also did several 5Ks and 10Ks.
"We've never run a race together, and one of us is on 'kid duty' during the race—which is actually really fun because our son loves to ring a cowbell for mommy, daddy or our friends."
Henning has it figured out, but even if you're not as hardcore as she is, you can find a way to keep running after becoming a parent.
Here are some ideas on how to make sure running doesn't take a back seat when a growing family becomes the center of your life.
In Henning's case, her husband works out at 5 a.m. every morning, so from 5 to 6 a.m., she's the on-duty parent while in the basement on her stationary bike. Her son typically doesn't wake up until 6:30 a.m., though her morning workouts have been cut short occasionally.
As for the evenings? Her husband runs on Monday night in addition to his morning exercise. Henning does her Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening sessions. And the two will trade off kid duty on Saturday and Sunday so they can both get a run in.
"My husband is really, really supportive in letting me get out and exercise," Henning said. "He knows how important it is to me to be fit and often lets me work out without getting much in return."
It's a balancing act that needs a lot of tweaking. But if you have a supportive spouse on your side, going out for a few runs a week is definitely possible.
A jogging stroller is a great investment, too—a chance to combine your running with your family time.
Stroller manufacturers like BOB have revolutionized jogging strollers and made it so easy to take your young ones with you.
There are some additional hurdles—finding a safe place to run, the extra strain of pushing your kids, etc.—but if you're serious about keeping your running going after you become a new mom or dad, a jogging stroller is an investment you should probably make.