07/17/2015 05:06 EDT | Updated 07/20/2016 05:59 EDT

I'm a Mom and a Marathoner - It Isn't Easy, But it's Possible

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Two years ago I was on maternity leave with my second child. My days were filled with typical mom-related activities and my focus was single: survival.

As a sometimes-active person I realized that if ever there was a time to commit to fitness, it was now -- after having my two kids and before getting back into the world of a full-time working parent.

I started slowly: lots of walks with my little guy, mom and tot circuit training and a baby and me swim class. Getting healthy and fit felt amazing and I knew it was something I needed in my life.

Returning to work full-time outside of the house, and then coming home to the other full-time job of parenthood leaves little time for much else. I struggled. While fitness was important, it wasn't winning in the competition of my life priorities.

It was a Friday morning when I got a text from my great friend (and an incredible trainer) asking me to run a 10k with her. I had never run longer than 20 minutes at a time prior to this call, so naturally I was skeptical but more than that, I was curious: Was this something I could actually do?

How I trained:

My goal was to be able to run the entire distance and I figured I could work on speed once I was sure I could actually complete the run. I ran three times a week for about six weeks. I worked my way up to completing the distance and spent the last few runs speeding up my pace.

Completing that 10k changed my life. When the race started I instantly got emotional. All the running I had done to prepare for the race left me feeling completely confident and secure in what I was about to accomplish. These feelings were very new to me. Like a lot of women, self-doubt, insecurities and self-consciousness have always been a part of my identity. That day was different. A sense of calm certainty came over me and instantly I knew I would finish. I knew I would leave it all on the course. I knew I had done everything I could and was ready to see where it led me. That feeling of realizing my own potential turned into a passion for long distance running.

Since that race I've completed a half marathon and three full marathons. As I'm preparing to start training for my fourth full marathon a close friend asked me: How do you do it? Where do find the time?

Training for a marathon is no joke. It's an all or nothing commitment. I once read about how important it is to "Respect the Race" and that has stuck with me. As something that less than one per cent of the North American population completes successfully every year, I knew that for me, the only way to approach it was to over-prepare. I read everything I could get my hands on. I eventually landed on a plan that has me running four times per week and strength training twice a week.

Running in my "spare-time" has never been an option because I don't consider any of my time as spare; it's all valuable to me. But with a full plate, finding the time to train is tough. I know how it feels to want to curl up on the couch once the kids are in bed, my pillow looks just as appealing as yours after a long day and I honestly can't imagine getting up before 6 a.m. on purpose.

So I work out at night. Five out six of my workouts are done at 8 p.m. after my little ones have gone to sleep. It works for me. But I also keep in mind that I don't actually have to run; I run because I love it. It's a lot easier to find time for the things (and people) you are in love with.

Running is my gateway to the elusive "me-time"; running gives me that incredibly satisfying feeling of achievement. With running, you truly get out what you're willing to put in.

As a woman, running alone at night is not ideal. My treadmill is a necessary accessory and no longer my children's climbing toy. Most runners hate treadmill running, but as my only viable option, "the Beast' has quickly become one of my greatest allies. The benefits of treadmill running include having total control over your speed, incline and distance, you're in your own house when you have to pee and the weather is never an excuse to miss a run.

No parent can train for a marathon without support. I am fortunate to have a husband who respects my goals. Without him committing to entertaining our kids on a Sunday morning, the all-important long run would be impossible.

I believe I can make anything work if it's something I'm truly passionate about. Time is the most valuable resource we have and to me, how you choose to spend it should reflect the loves of your life.

On the road to my fourth my goals are more challenging than ever. There will be amazing runs and impossible ones; times when I feel strong and times when I'll struggle. On race day, I'm looking forward to the sense of calm I get from trusting the time and effort I put in while training. I'll leave it all out there and enjoy the experience of getting closer to realizing my full-potential one run at a time.


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