Confessions of a Mother Runner

Runner and Garmin Ambassador Danielle Hartman is a first-time mom to her baby boy, Chadd. Throughout her pregnancy, Danielle kept up her mileage while listening to her body. In celebration of our mother runners, Danielle shares her experiences as a runner, a mother and everything in between. 

As I celebrate my first official Mother’s Day, I look back at these past six and a half months with a proud smile. It has certainly been the most amazing experience of my life. The moment I held my son for the first time I knew my world had changed instantly for the better and I had earned the title “Mother”.

As a Garmin Fitness Ambassador, I had the privilege of representing while running pregnant last year and now this year is all about my postpartum comeback as I train for my very first marathon. A quick background history: August of 2015, I started my running journey and fell in love with the sport. By the beginning of 2016, I became pregnant and knew racing was out of the question but was determined to keep on running. Nonetheless, my water broke at exactly 39 weeks and I even went running that day (4 miles at 9-minute pace). At just 3 weeks postpartum I ran my first mile and was ready to keep going.

Running has now become different since there is a baby in the equation, and I would not have it any other way. Not only is motherhood the toughest job out there, but finding the time to incorporate your fitness plan is quite the challenge, especially taking on two new challenges that I have no experience in or what to expect: being the best mommy and training for 26.2. Balancing motherhood and running has not always been the easiest as it is a constant effort. Baby is, and will always be, first and then running. Some days it is a struggle as I have learned to just go with the flow and take it for what it is worth; if I can get in a run then great, if not then so be it. I do not own a treadmill, so it is up to me to make time for my running.

After pregnancy, you realize that your body is a work in progress as you have to take it in strides. When I began my postpartum running, it was extremely difficult to get out for some solo miles. Being a passionate runner, I knew the only ways to get in my runs was to bring the baby a long for the ride. It truly is amazing how much I have enjoyed taking my little guy with me. In fact, I remember before even thinking about having children, I used to wonder if I would ever be that “mom who runs with a jogging stroller,” and here I am now with one. To be honest, I thought running with a stroller would be a breeze but in reality, it is not. What I can tell you after months of using it, I have become a stronger runner mentally and physically. The resistance training has been the best part about it since going to the gym is not in the cards.

My proudest moment to date with the jogger was running 13.1 miles with my fellow Garmin Fitness Ambassador, Sara, who also had a baby shortly after me. Sometimes you need a boost of confidence every once in a while, and I knew if I could run a half marathon with the stroller then I could certainly run a full marathon. I am not sure if I chose the right time to start training for my first marathon but that’s the mentality I have developed ever since I became a mother who continued to go after her goals of running. Granted, I have only raced in one half marathon but I know what I am capable of. It was time to start getting serious and figure out the right balance that would work best for the baby and me.

Danielle and Sara catch up with their biggest fans after a run.

Solo runs mean getting up super early and making it happen. Yes, there have been many sleepless nights but I know I will need to work harder than I have ever had before. Over time, I have learned to appreciate the early morning runs even on just 4 hours of sleep. Another factor that plays a huge role in my running is breastfeeding, which still to this day is my son’s main source of nutrients. I have to make sure I am doubling up on water and be careful of what types of energy sources I am intaking that are not harmful to the baby. Not to get in to too much detail, but also finding the proper clothing apparel was a major challenge I faced daily. Finding the right balance of keeping mother and baby satisfied with the whole breastfeeding process was something I perfected over time; mommas it can be done as I have run a couple 50 miler weeks and never lost my milk supply. Hydration and nutrition is now a main priority with running and I have to thank motherhood for bringing the two together for me as I used to take them both for granted.

These are just a few of the moments that have made me stronger and more motivated to reach my goal. There is no right or wrong way. Training each day/week/month is so unpredictable when you are juggling being a mom but it is what keeps me on my toes to keep at it and never give up. When the time comes, I want to be able to tell my little boy one day that I was training for the best race of my life while also embracing motherhood. Earning the title Mother Runner has changed my world for the better.

“Everything changed the day that I understood that if I was to become a runner, I would have to run with the body I had.” -John Bingham

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mother Runners out there. You inspire me daily.

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