Workout Wednesday: How One Mom Ran Her First Marathon Before Her Baby’s First Birthday

Welcome to another installment of Workout Wednesday! I’m changing things up today with a guest, my friend Erin Gosser. She’s a stay at home mom of two young boys, a blogger, a runner, and a total badass. Erin ran her debut marathon (Chicago) when her kids were four years old and eleven months old, which I think is amazing. The year after my second baby was born, I was happy just to run a few 5k‘s, so after I heard what Erin accomplished, I was desperate to pick her brain. If you know me, you know I’m all about details. I needed to know how she did it, why she did it, and when the heck she ran all those training miles. Thankfully, Erin was happy to answer my questions. I hope you find her quest to run her first marathon as inspiring as I do.

Run your first marathon before your baby's first birthday

PM: Tell me a little about your background as a runner.

EG: I had run a half marathon five years prior.

PM: What was your fitness routine like prior to having your first child? How did it change after he was born?

EG: Before my first child was born, I’d do all sorts of fitness: classes, yoga, triathlons, short runs. I probably dragged myself to the gym three to four times per week. After my oldest was born, I found the gym more enticing, because it meant I got a BREAK, and he got some socialization with the other kids. Probably, I still worked out three to four times per week.

PM: What was your pregnancy fitness routine like?

EG: With both of my pregnancies, the only thing I didn’t do was go for jogs. I kept up with strength training and yoga mostly, and would do Zumba classes and walk for cardio. [Pam’s note: Zumba is seriously fun, even for uncoordinated wannabe dancers like me.]

PM: What inspired you to sign up for the marathon?

EG: I have two good friends who started BibRave (a sort of Yelp for reviewing races). Tim and Jess were always talking to me (and everyone!) about completing a marathon. Being a stay at home mom, I don’t feel like I reach milestones in my mom career (only other moms will high five your potty training efforts). I knew that the marathon would be something for me, and if I’m being honest, something that would make other people really impressed with. 🙂 Oh yeah, and that whole lose-the-baby-fat thing. [Pam’s note: Erin wrote a great blog post on this very topic.]

PM: How old were your kids when you ran the race?

EG: My oldest was four, and my little guy was one week shy of turning one year old!

PM: Describe a typical week of training.

EG: Four days of running a week. Three days of 4.5 miles, and the fourth day was the long run, starting at 6 and going up to 20 miles. I would wake at 5am, eat peanut butter slathered on a graham cracker + half a cup of coffee, pump (I successfully nursed the entire time!), and be out the door by 5:30 am. I would religiously stretch for ten minutes after and consume a protein smoothie. My running plan said to cross train, but I did not. In hindsight, this would have helped me, but I was so damn tired. [Pam’s note: I totally understand this!!!!]

PM: What were your biggest barriers to training and how did you overcome them? (eg finding time, engorgement during longer runs, guilt, etc)

EG: My biggest challenge, by far, was nursing + running. It was a mini-marathon every week just to plan, shop, and prepare enough food for all of the calories that were going out! Since my baby was seven months when I started training, he was eating other food besides milk, so I didn’t get engorged or anything (thank God). But it was also challenging to plan around the nursing schedule. The 20 miler took me 4 hours, so I almost always had to feed him immediately when I got home. I remember one time, not changing my shirt before I nursed him, and he was completely soaked in my sweat. GROSS.

PM: What motivated you when you didn’t feel like training?

EG: Honestly, just telling myself that I was going to do it; that this was my time to be selfish. I was disappointed with both deliveries, as they were C sections. One thing that kept me going (especially on race day) was that my body couldn’t deliver the boys on its own, but I could do this on my own. It was sort of redemption for feeling like a failed at childbirth. Let me say: C section birth is just as valid! These are my own personal thoughts with my own two birth experiences.

PM: What advice would you give for other women who are intimidated to set a big, scary, sexy post-baby fitness goal?

EG: “One day at a time” is cliche, but so true. I remember, my nine miler was rough, and I thought, “How the HELL am I going to basically triple this distance?!” I stopped myself and thought, “That doesn’t matter. You’re not running 26 (right now). You’re running 9. Run today’s run TODAY.” It sounds too easy, but get a plan, and run those miles. Your body will follow your brain (not the other way around).

PM: An important question: What is your favorite post-run meal/indulgence?

EG: Chocolate milk immediately after the long run; Chocolate cake doughnut, going out for brunch.

PM: How was your training different from training you done pre-kids for longer events (like your half-marathon or triathlons)? Were there aspects of recovery or planning that took a backseat?

EG: Like I said, I did not cross train. If (when?) I do another marathon, I would cross train. My friend did two days of yoga, and that sounds like the perfect stretch and strength.

Thanks again, Erin for answering my questions. If reading about Erin’s post-baby marathon doesn’t make you want to lace up and go for a run, I don’t know what will.

Erin blogs at Social Butterfly Mom. You can also find her on Facebook, and you should because she’s awesome!

Erin Ran Her First Marathon Before Her Baby's First Birthday

Erin and her family right after the Chicago Marathon. From left: Logan, 4, Erin, husband Aaron, and Colin, 11 mo.  Photo courtesy of Erin Gosser

PS Are you a mom who met (or is working toward) a big, scary, sexy fitness goal? Want to let me interview you for my Workout Wednesday series? Let me know. Shoot me an email at pam (dot) sinel (at)

10 thoughts on “Workout Wednesday: How One Mom Ran Her First Marathon Before Her Baby’s First Birthday

  1. Esther says:

    Loved this story and it encourages me to get back out there. I’ve only managed two runs since baby three was born, mainly because I don’t quite know how to coordinate running with three.
    PS: I saw that you posted this on Goodreads as well. Is the blog feature there new and what made you post over there?

    • Pam says:

      Hi! So glad this inspired you, Esther! As far as running with three… Hm. This weather makes it extra hard but I have always thought (in nicer weather) it would be possible to run with one in a jog stroller, and let one (or two) play with a ball or ride a bike or something at a track, where you can see them at all times. The easy but more expensive solution is join a gym with childcare! Not that getting out of the house is easy:) It’s all relative. I have a treadmill, which is nice. When the baby took a morning nap, I would sometimes hop on and let me older one watch a show.

      Goodreads has a thing where if you have an author page, you can connect your blog and it automatically pushes your posts out into your feed.

  2. Erin P. Gosser says:

    Thank you so much for sharing my story, Pam! I forgot to say that I often thought of your natural birth story as (“no pain, no gain”) inspiration when I was training. 😉

    • Pam says:

      I am so honored to have played a part in your marathon, Erin! Wow, I had no idea I inspired you. That is so cool!!!

  3. Michele says:

    Way to go, Erin! The detail in this post is really inspiring and helpful for breaking down such a big goal into smaller pieces. I don’t see myself running a marathon anytime soon (my half marathons have been hard enough!) but so many of these tips are applicable to any kind of fitness commitment. Thanks for launching this series!

    • Pam says:

      I agree, Erin is an inspiration. There is a lot to be said for taking it one day at time (no matter what “it” is!)

  4. Elena says:

    Wow – Erin’s story is especially inspiring for me: I have no kids (only two dogs) and I can barely find time to READ about people training for marathons, much less train for one myself! Thank you, Pam (and Erin!) for the tips.

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