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Real Canadian parents dish running advice: “I do weights while cleaning”

It takes some creativity to carve out the time for running, but it's absolutely doable.

We know family responsibilities have a way of filling up the calendar. Being a parent can feel like your time isn’t, well, yours. If setting aside time to yourself to work out, go for a long run or do the maintenance work like yoga or Pilates has become nearly impossible, consider that you’re not the only one who feels this way. This fall, we’re reaching out to Canadian runners from coast to coast to find out how real parents make it all fit together. Here’s this week’s words of wisdom: 

RELATED: Advice from real Canadian parents: “Don’t feel bad about prioritizing yourself”

“I’m a mom of two boys, ages four and six. I also work full time at Dalhousie University. I ran my first half-marathon in January and will run another in spring. I run three days a week, my long run being Saturday evening. I’m lucky that I can run at work once or twice a week during lunch. My main tip is to be dedicated. I’ve had so many women join me on my runs only to have their interest wane. Running gets easier over time but the hardest part is going out even when you don’t want to. You can’t break your routine unless it’s a serious and legitimate issue, not because you just didn’t feel like it. My other big tip is to be with a partner who supports your goals. I’m extremely lucky because I have a supportive husband who doesn’t complain when I go for a 90-minute run every Saturday night. Practically speaking, food prep is important. I often prepare a week’s worth of meals on Sunday. Another suggestion: squeeze workouts in when you can. I lift weights while the kids are in the bath and I’m in the bathroom or hallway. I’ll also do weights while doing laundry, or cleaning. There are a few seconds between each set that can be used doing small tasks.” – Deanna Foster, Halifax 

“I’m a parent of four school-aged children and over the past four years, I’ve managed to complete 5,000 kilometres of training annually. I do this while ensuring that I fulfill my (shared) responsibilities of packing lunches, getting kids onto school buses, attending pageants, driving to sports practices and all of the other good stuff that makes up the better part of a dad’s life. The key for me has been to get my runs in before the day begins for everyone else. I started running eight years ago and prior to that, I wasn’t much of a morning person. As I discovered my desire to run, I established an unwritten covenant with my family that my training wouldn’t interfere with our day-to-day lives. The only way to make that happen is to get back by the time that everyone else is climbing out of bed. I’ve honed my sense of self-discipline in terms of foregoing late-night TV, going to bed early and fighting the urge to hit the snooze button on a sub-40 degree winter morning.” – Patrick Voo, Barrie, Ont.

RELATED: This is the recommended number of minutes Canadian kids should exercise each day

“I’m a full time engineer and a mother of two young kids – one with special needs. My husband’s work schedule is also quite full: he gets home close to the kids’ bedtime. We have no family or help in town. I love my family. I also love my job. Between the after-school activities, my older child’s special therapies, homework, house work and family time there’s a lot of juggling… and we often struggle. I started running about two years ago in my early forties thanks to a physical health wake-up call. Since then, I’ve committed to running three times a week for a total of 20 kilometres. I get out with a group of like-minded people in the neighborhood. We all started together with a “learn to run” clinic. We made it our goal to show up three times a week no matter what and we stuck to it. Since my husband isn’t home on time for those evening runs, I’ve hired a sitter to stay with the kids. On Saturday mornings, we have a long run followed by a post run tea or coffee. It takes some creativity to carve out the time for running, but it’s absolutely doable.” – Sahar Kanani, Vancouver

How do you coordinate family life with training? Email sinead@runningmagazine.ca.