My name is Kristen Garzone (FRÉ ambassador since Oct 2017) and I have been an athlete for most of my life. I grew up playing all sports but fell in love with soccer early on. I started playing when I was 4 and always had the dream to play in college, which is a dream I proudly fulfilled. After college, I needed something to fill the void of not having anything to train for, which is when I started running. I went from 5-15k’s to 4 half marathons before I ran my first full marathon in the fall of 2012. Since then I have run 6 marathons and will be training for my 7th this summer.
I found out I was pregnant in February of 2016; 2 days into training for my 5th marathon. I had always told my husband that as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I would stop training but it was no surprise that I didn’t stop. At our first doctor’s appointment, after all our questions were answered, I asked, “Would it be possible for me to run a marathon at 20 weeks pregnant?” Luckily, I had a super supportive doctor (AND husband) that said since my body was used to it, I would be able to keep training and run if I felt up to it. I am now proud to say that I finished that marathon at 20 weeks pregnant along with 3 half marathons; one in each trimester. To me, running helped me feel like my old self as my body went through all its changes. It also gave me something to share with my daughter. I often smile thinking about all of the stories I will tell her, especially our accomplishments together, as she grows up. (I even have a Run Ink Design Marathoner Map in her room for the marathon in Buffalo – the full we ran together). But really, a part of me felt like I kept running because I was afraid that my running days would be long gone once Ellie came into the world.
"That’s one thing I highly suggest all mother runners do. Keep signing up for races!"
I ran up until the day I went into labor, at one-day shy of 41 weeks. I logged a little under one-thousand miles and tried to enjoy each run no matter how slow it was, or how sore it left me. In the back of my mind I constantly asked myself, “when will I have the time to do this when I’m a mom?” Towards the end of my pregnancy, I made myself sign up for a half marathon in March; the same half marathon I first ran with Ellie when I was 11 weeks pregnant. I thought signing up for a race would keep me motivated to keep running. --That’s one thing I highly suggest all mother runners do. Keep signing up for races! It gives you something to look forward to, to work towards, and keeps giving you a reason to get out there!
When Ellie Josephine came into the world on October 21, 2016 and my 12 weeks of maternity leave began, I made it a goal to use that time to get my body back into shape. Again, I thought this would be it. How would I find the time to train and workout while being a full time working mom? I spent the first 4 weeks walking everyday with Ellie, and once I was cleared to run, I started training again, and implemented HIIT workouts at 6 weeks postpartum, when I was released with no restrictions. Towards the end of my maternity leave, I found out I was accepted into the Chicago Marathon – I was ecstatic! My first postpartum marathon back. However, lots of doubt entered my mind – how would I travel as a Mom? Could we afford it? Would I be able to be away from her? How would I train for a marathon with everything else? - but my husband told me he had no doubt I could do it at all. I will forever be thankful for his support and wouldn’t have been able to balance it all without it. A strong support system goes a long way! Team work makes the dream work, right?
"Team work makes the dream work, right?"
I can honestly say that the balance between training and motherhood is hard AF. It’s a lot of constant planning and stress to find the time to get everything done. For me, I have thankfully been blessed with a baby who has loved to sleep through the night since 2 months old. Because of that I was, and am, still able to get up early to get my workouts in before the day truly begins. (Plus, everyone is sleeping at that time so I don’t miss that Ellie time 😊) Is it easy? No way. Do the early mornings suck? Of course! But that is the only way I can get it done; it is my “me time” which I have found makes me a better mom! I needed to keep a part of my pre-mom “old self” intact and running has helped provide that for me; it also has been very therapeutic and has helped me a lot mentally as I battle postpartum depression. (But that is another story…)
I can’t say enough how important it is to use that time of running/training as your ‘me time’ that you should never skip! Us moms deserve it with all we can take on. Pick a time of the day that you can put aside for yourself every day (despite if it’s at the crack of dawn or not) and make it a routine to get your workout in at that time. Consistency helps. At first, it’s hard to adapt to but over time, it becomes a staple in your daily routine; the new norm.
"It always helps to have that extra person in your corner"Another stress I found with running as a new mom was figuring out a training schedule that worked for me. I luckily found a great coach with Relentless Runners, who I felt comfortable with and have worked with since June of 2017. Yes, it is a monthly investment but it helped ease my mind of planning my training schedules, as I no longer have to design them myself. One less worry! Toni (my trainer) provides my workouts a week or so in advance so each day, all I have to do is wake up and get the workout done; basically, no thinking involved! Also, it helps me scheduling wise. If something comes up or I didn’t sleep well, I can contact my coach to switch around my workouts without hurting me or my training. Not having the stress of thinking up my workouts, or what days to do them, has helped a lot. Plus, Toni helps hold me accountable and is a kick ass cheerleader on my days where I need that support. It always helps to have that extra person in your corner.
"The online running community is truly an asset; the support is amazing and provides so much inspiration and insight to keep us all going"
As well as having a coach, finding a runner girl gang and fellow mother runners helps SO much. The online running community is truly an asset; the support is amazing and provides so much inspiration and insight to keep us all going. Also, having a local running crew to meet for some miles once or twice a week also helps hold you accountable and gives you that non-mom interaction that we all need! (Girl talk can be some really good therapy and helps blow off a lot of steam when that typical day-to-day madness ensues)
Lastly, continue to train and run not only for you but for your little one. Don’t forget - you are one of the most important role models in their lives. (no pressure though right?) I want Ellie to grow up as a woman who knows she can do and have it all. She can be a wife and a mother, as well as have a career with her own interests and goals to work towards. I want her to grow up knowing she can do anything she puts her mind to!
"Just remember – you got this!"
I hope you found my story and tidbits helpful. Just remember – you got this! Keep on running and being the strong mother runner you know you are. I will leave you with one of my most favorite quotes that I hope inspires you as it has me:
“My daughter made my runs more meaningful, purposeful, and gave me even more drive to execute with efficiency. When I let myself be a runner and didn’t starve that part of me, I would always be ON as a mother, ready to take on challenges, knowing that running has already taught me I can handle it, and vice versa. When I showed up to a workout that was challenging, I knew I could handle it because motherhood had already taught me how to adapt. Let the two worlds collide into this beautiful masterpiece that makes you the mother-runner to be reckoned with that you are.” –Alysia Montaño
For more content like this, and to read up on some of our other amazing ambassadors, head over to our blog. #FREwomen