Learn these five habits for healthy mums who run to feel full of energy and ready to achieve your goals, no matter what family life throws at you!
Maintaining good health as a mum who runs is essential, not only for your own training and running goals, but also, importantly, to support and look out for the rest of the family. Mums are unable to do everything that parenting requires them to do if feeling exhausted, unloved and undernourished.
These five simple habits make daily life simpler and easier, giving you more time and headspace to focus on the things and people you love.
Note: 'Mum' can be replaced with 'Dad', and 'run' replaced with 'exercise'...
Planning dinners, packed lunches, pre/post exercise and school snacks in advance gives you time to create wonderful, nourishing meals that suit you and your family. That's the nutrition bit sorted, but planning is so much more powerful.
When you plan (and by that I do mean being flexible when the need arises, because there will always be impromptu play dates, rescheduled training runs and other life changes), you also limit wasting time on thinking every single day what you are going to eat.
Planning your meals also stops you from spending unnecessarily on takeaways or convenience food, giving you more money to spend on running kit!
2. Eat with your family
I admit, having been through this myself, it can be challenging to find meals that suit both running training needs and children's tastes/dislikes, at a time of day that works for everyone. But it is possible.
Keep things simple: chicken stir fry, pasta bolognese, veggie omelettes, tuna and sweetcorn jacket potatoes tend to be universally enjoyed, and are nutritious balanced meals which support healthy running.
Benefits of eating together are well studied. Better mental health, connection and happiness, plus lower rates of obesity are some of the benefits. Sharing meal times gives you all a chance to talk and connect, to share the days successes and challenges (including, if you want, exactly how fast/far you just ran or are planning on running later!).
3. Prioritise sleep
Most likely you are already aware that getting enough sleep is vital for recovery after training runs, partly because this is when growth hormone is released which stimulates muscle repair and growth, and bone building. And as a mum you certainly already know that lack of sleep makes you cranky, unable to think straight and generally far from feeling on top form.
Sleep is a must. Yes, it can be difficult to get to bed at a decent hour when the kids have taken ages to fall asleep, you've still got the house to tidy, stretches to do, and would dearly love a bit of downtime. But sleep is a priority for recovering your mind and body.
Implement a simple night time routine, they work just as well for adults as children. Ideally, incorporate strategies like:
Avoiding screens and artificial light 1-2 hours before bed.
Writing a list of the things you need to do tomorrow - getting things out of your head and onto paper is so helpful for sleeping well.
Meditation or deep breathing exercises reduce stress hormones and can put you in a better state for sleep.
4. Carry healthy snacks
Most mums are used to carrying around snacks for when their children need something to keep them going (or distract them). The same works for you.
By having healthy snacks at hand you are much more likely to make the better choice, instead of reaching for a sugary quick fix, which will keep energy levels balanced and give you that all important boost before heading out for your run.
Foods like pots of almonds and dried fruit, oat bars and bananas are really useful to eat in the hour or two before running. They are portable and, if you don't eat them, I'm sure the children will!
5. Factor in rest time
Rest time, in case you are wondering, is not the same as sleep at night.
Rest time is all about the moments during the day when you sit and take a few minutes (ideally longer) to experience peace and quiet, allowing you to gather some strength to get out for a run or deal with after-school stuff.
These moments are vital for wellbeing. Restful moments help with keeping your sanity during those long full-on days, which tend to be the pattern with parenting.
With running training and exercise on top of family life you need to look after yourself and prioritise rest. It may feel like you do not have enough time to sit down for a cuppa, but I can assure you that your body and mind (and probably your children too) will thank you for it.
As a mum who runs, I know that these healthy habits really do work to keep us feeling full of energy with a love for life.
What do you think? Are there any other habits that healthy mums (and dads) who run need to know?
Join my Eat Well, Run Strong Facebook group
Helen Morton, registered Nutritional Therapist. sports nutritionist, runner, Level 2 Fitness Instructor and food lover, sharing latest nutrition research and recipes.