My “normal” day as a working + running mom

I am five weeks into my new job and finally feel like I have a rhythm and routine that is sustainable and feasible – at least for the time being. I’m sure there will be obstacles or bumps along the way, but no sense worrying about how I’m going to get around them before they are even in my way.

A lot of readers have asked what a typical day is like for me lately. I wanted to wait at least a month until the dust settled and I had a better handle on the day-to-day routine.  So here goes:

3:45-4:10am: Wakeup. This varies based on the day, type of workout and number of miles I am planning to run. I make it as late as possible to squeeze out even an extra 10-15 minutes of sleep! Monday and Wednesday are usually my speed days and/or longer mileage days, so I tend to get up closer to 3:45 on those mornings.

Coffee. My husband or I set it up the night before, so it’s all ready by the time I make it downstairs. I straighten up, empty the dishwasher and do little things around kitchen until coffee is ready. Some mornings my husband joins me. We sit, drink our coffee and enjoy the quiet morning – and then when I run, he goes up to his office and starts working.

4:30-5:30/5:45am: Running, strength, core work. Some days outside, others on treadmill. I’m trying to vary my running as much as possible so I’m not as predictable. I used to do strength work immediately after my speed/longer mid-week runs (so that the easy days are just running and recovery), but there’s simply not enough time for it all on those mornings, so right now, strength and core are on my easy days. Not ideal, but it will have to work.

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5:45-6:05am: Return from run, drink a glass of water and head upstairs to shower. Right now, my schedule is: Monday/Friday: wash and blow dry straight; Tuesday/Thursday: blow dry any sweat (thankful for the cooler mornings = no sweating – yay!) and re-straighten hair. And Friday I curl my hair. It’s not ideal because I wash and blow dry my hair on my longest training days, but the speed/long run days are the days I sweat the most.

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Headbands help with hair that isn’t freshly washed =)

Throw on robe and head downstairs to our powder room to blow dry hair, put on a little makeup and get dressed. The boys sometimes end up in our room and in the rare chance they are still sleeping, I don’t want the blow dryer to wake them up!

However, most mornings, they are up early (esp since daylight savings) and shower and keep me company while I get ready in the bathroom.

6:10-6:30: Blow-dry – takes about 20 minutes when I wash it (and 10 when I don’t). I’m leaning towards cutting another 1-2 inches off my hair at my next hair appointment – simply as a way to cut off (ha!) some prep time in the mornings.

6:30-6:35am: Dressed and makeup.

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6:45am: Quick breakfast of eggs and fruit (thanks to my husband!)

NLT 7am: Out of house and on way to bus stop. I drive about 7-10 minutes to a spot on Staten Island where 3 express bus lines merge (it’s the last stop for 2 of them and 2nd to last stop for the other). I usually don’t wait more than 5 minutes for a bus in the AM (no need to check the schedule either). The only downside to this setup is that there’s no parking lot – just parking along road – so I often have about a 6-8 minute walk after I park car.

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~7:10-7:15: Sitting on bus. On a good day, I am in the city around 8 or just after. Some days it can take about 90 minutes. I’m learning which mornings have fast commutes and which I need to leave a bit earlier for the heavier traffic.

I live on the southern end of Staten Island (about a mile from the end). There’s no direct way to get from Staten Island to Manhattan, so the best option for me is an express bus that takes me up through Staten Island, over the Goethals bridge, up the NJ Turnpike to the Lincoln Tunnel and then across the city along 34th and up Madison (where I work). If there’s no traffic, it’s about 50-55 minutes. The good part is that once I get on the bus, I don’t have to move – the express bus takes me virtually to my office door (at most I walk one block).

commute

8am-5:30/6pm: Work. Busy, but amazing days. I’m learning a ton and really, really enjoying my job. I eat lunch at my desk most of the time so that I could spend it working (so I could head home even 10-15 min earlier).

5:30-6pm: Walk to bus stop. I walk one avenue to the bus stop and usually wait about 10 min for a bus. Once I’m on it, the commute is anywhere from 75-105 minutes to my car where I have the walk + drive home.

7-7:30pm: Home. If I walk in door before 7pm, it’s a celebration!  Most nights, the boys are awake and have already been fed…and there is dinner waiting for me. I usually eat on the floor in the playroom so we could play or on the couch so I could talk to or read to the boys. The next hour is all about them – whatever they want to do – until it’s their bedtime. We head upstairs – sometimes for a bath or shower – and then they brush their teeth and use the bathroom. While that is happening, I rush in to my closet to pick out my outfits for the next day (running and work).

8-8:30pm: Then it’s the rest of the bedtime routine. We’ve pushed the boys’ bedtime back a bit so that I can spend more time with them at night (during the summer, they were asleep most nights by 7:30). The little guy is napping more during the day, but other than that, they seem to be okay with the later bedtime.

A story or two and some nights I lay with the boys (so that’s basically where the night ends for me!). If not, I head downstairs, get things set up for the next morning (coffee, clothes, backpacks, lunches), chat with my husband, head upstairs to fold laundry or straighten up and then hop into bed by 9pm. We don’t have a cleaning service so we try to stay on top of the day-to-day cleaning so the weekends are full of cleaning (usually spend about 4-5 hours Sunday morning cleaning).

So that’s basically my day. Here are a few things I do / learned:

  • Planning ahead: Everything gets laid out the night before and brought into the dining room. My work outfit – undergarments, clothes, jewelry, shoes, bag. My running outfit – sports bra, bottoms, top, gloves, shoes, reflective gear, iPod. The boys school clothes, their backpacks, jackets, etc. IMG_5321
  • Lunches and snacks for the boys either get packed at night or first thing in AM while I am drinking my coffee
  • My work clothes get washed and steamed each Sunday, so that everything is ready for the week. I try to have 5 outfits ready to go by Sunday evening so that I’m not wasting time during the week ironing or steaming.
  • Mindless tv: The biggest thing that I’ve had to cut back on is mindless tv. I don’t really watch any tv during the week these days. For a long time, my husband and I would watch a show or two each night before bed. It was nothing of value or significance. I am so tired by 9pm, that even if we were to put on the tv, I probably wouldn’t last more than 5 minutes.
  • Minimizing the time suck. The first week I worked, I wasted so much time looking for things, making trips up and down the stairs in the AM and not having a set plan. These days everything has a place and time. All of my hair and makeup products are in the cabinet in the bathroom. I don’t need to run upstairs to grab the brush or clips or makeup.
  • Use downtime on bus to rest. I don’t do much on the bus. I could text or get on my phone or even read, but I’m pretty tired, especially on the way home, after a full day of using my brain =) Most days, I close my eyes and drift in and out of sleep.
  • Sleep. I average about 6-7 hours of sleep a night (7 is a really good night!). I function okay on this amount of sleep. By the weekend, I am pretty tired and try to take a nap one of the days (even just an hour or so makes a huge difference!).
  • Feeling of empowerment. No matter how tired I am in the morning, there’s this amazing sense of empowerment I feel each morning when I’m running. It’s a “I’m doing this” kind of feeling that makes me feel like I can conquer the world. I had so many fears about returning to work and a lot of them stemmed from worrying about how I was going to find the time to make it all fit in. And so, when I’m on the roads at 4:30am, I feel like I have already had a successful morning – and it sets the tone for a wonderful day!

Right now, I am running most mornings, but I’m likely going to take a rest day on Thursdays. It’s not that I’m physically not able to run – it’s more that I feel I need/want a day to sleep in and not have the crazy morning rush. It would also allow my husband and I more time together on Wednesday evening – maybe to watch a show or just sit on the couch together before we both pass out.

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I’m extremely surprised at how much I am enjoying getting dressed up and ready for work (hair/makeup). After years of hanging around in workout clothes, it is SO much fun to have a reason to fix myself each morning. And I love not feeling guilty about spending money on clothes or accessories. I spent a lot of money on my wardrobe the last two months, but I basically was starting from scratch!! I’m finding that I prefer dresses or skirts (with tights and flats – I keep heels at work) over pants (I need to get all of my pants tailored (too big on waist/too long)).

IMG_5342 My working and running is all possible because of my husband. He’s truly amazing. He works from home often, so he isn’t punching a clock – which allows him to have a more relaxed morning and evening with the boys. He cooks me breakfast and dinner most days. I come home to a delicious and healthy meal wrapped in foil in the oven with a glass of wine and water on the kitchen island. He cooks the boys breakfast, gets them dressed and takes them to school. And all with a huge smile. I kind of hit the jackpot =)

Childcare has also been a huge blessing. The boys are in school three days (little guy until 11, older guy until 2pm) so we don’t need childcare three mornings/week. Right now, we have a babysitter two days and then my mom and dad each come for one day (and my husband works from home the other day). There’s a lot of moving pieces, but everything has been working well with no issues – and it’s not costing us a fortune (although their catholic school tuition is not cheap! LOL).

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Dropped the boys off to my sister at 7am on Wednesday and she brought them all to school!

Long term, I’m hoping to work from home one day/week. There are several people in my group who work from home at least once/week and I think it would allow me a morning to kind of unwind and relax. So I’m planning to work my butt off for the next few months so that I’m in a position to ask sooner rather than later.

The biggest struggle is/will be when my husband travels for work. His company is located in Buffalo (about 5 hours away), so he will be spending almost a week up there once every 3-4 weeks. This past week was the first time he has traveled since I started work and we got through the week. It simply meant earlier mornings (and more treadmill running) for me and a touch less sleep, but it’s Friday and we are all still smiling (I’m also working from home today so it feels a bit like Christmas for me!).

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treadmilling at 4:15am. I’ve said it before and it’s still 100% true – one of the best investments my husband and I made four years ago was this sturdy treadmill!

So that’s about it. The days are long but we are making it work right now. The biggest change is that I don’t have the flexibility of running whenever I want these days – it’s a small window each morning – and so I’m much more motivated to just get up and get it done when the alarm goes off. I’m sure there will be plenty of mornings I opt to sleep in and skip a run – and I’m already okay with that. There’s only so much I will be able to do – and even if I follow my training plan 75% of the time, I will consider it a huge success.

Hope you have a great Friday and weekend! <3

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    44 thoughts on “My “normal” day as a working + running mom

    1. Love these tips. You always look so put together & professional. Where do you get your work clothes?

      • Hi Sarah! Thank you!
        Most of my clothes are from The Limited and Ann Taylor. I wait until there are some good sales (40-50% off) to buy a few pieces. I’m really into dresses lately and can get them for less then $35-40/each. I’ve tried Banana Republic but their clothes just don’t fit me and JCrew is a bit outside what I’m willing to spend for work clothes!
        I have a good baseline of stuff now so I’m going to try to add a few things every couple of months.
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Having a Short Term Memory with Failed WorkoutsMy Profile

    2. Thanks so much for sharing!! Balancing it all isn’t easy, but I love reading about how other women do it. My #1 success tip is planning ahead the night before. It makes mornings so much smoother! I like your idea of having 5 outfits prepped on Sunday- I hate ironing during the week!

    3. wow! you’re amazing! And you absolutely…1000% hit the JACK POT with that husband of yours!! I have a wonderful husband but he doesn’t cook a lick so when I get home…I have to do it all…which makes getting in bed early quite the challenge…therefore, early rising…even more of a challenge. I’m averaging 5-6 hours of sleep and I’m NOT okay with THAT. lol But I guess I need to cut out the mindless TV watching…ugh. lol
      Safari @ Tri-ing To Run Boston recently posted..Welcome Back To OnederlandMy Profile

    4. Wow this is a full on schedule. Well done for finding something that works for you. I do wonder how sustainable this is though- do you ever get the feeling you’re not taking time to enjoy life ( apart from when you are out running) because you’re just rushing through every day so busily? I just wonder if you are going to burn out very quickly and or realise you never see your kids?

      • Hi Kim. My running does not impact my time with my kids. Like I said in the post, that is why I run when I do. They are asleep most days when I return from my run and when I return from work, I am with them until their bedtime. The long hours/commute of my job is the reason my time with my children is limited. I’m working my butt off at work in hopes that I can begin working from home one day/week as soon as possible which would allow me to take them/pick them up from school or see them sporadically throughout the day if it’s a non-school day.
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Feature on ESPNW + Family PrioritiesMy Profile

        • It’s great that you’ll have the opportunity to work a day from home, I’m sure it will make such a difference to your week, and I’m sure it will happen sooner rather than later since you’re working your tail off :)

    5. Oh man….how are you not falling asleep at work? I don’t know if it is the fact that I like my sleep or really don’t feel comfortable running outside in the dark but I just can’t do morning workouts no matter how much easier it would be in terms of time management/getting my runs in. I had about 3 hrs of sleep on Friday and my first period class did not go so well (until the coffee kicked in).

      You’re an inspiration!
      Rebecca recently posted..Thinking Out Loud Thursday #66My Profile

    6. Wow! An inspiration you are to me…and many others! I love your dedication, your organization and time management. You do truly motivate me to push for my goals, I struggle with morning routine and as I was reading your post, it really is about planning ahead! You have a supporting husband and that just tops it off! I am blessed to have great support too and reading your blog regularly keeps me pumped to keep trying. It’s not easy but it’s very rewarding to get out and do what you love :)

    7. You are amazing! You fit so much into each day, and sounds like they key is being organized. You are such an inspiration for those who truly value a work-life-balance, on top of marathon training! Thanks for your insight! :)

    8. You are truly an inspiration. I do not know how you keep it all together. Not only are you an AMAZING runner but it sounds like you are a pretty great mom and employee too!

    9. Sounds like you have a great routine going on. I’ll have to steal some of these tips when I return to work soon. Thanks for the post!

    10. You are amazing!! I am in such awe of all that you are doing and doing it like a rock star!!
      Love your organization and dedication to your training. Not to mention your family is beautiful!!!
      You are an inspiration!!! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!! xoxo
      Natalie recently posted..Friday Favorites!!My Profile

    11. I saw in my email feed that you had a new blog today about your routine. I was so interested and looking forward to reading it that I saved it for when I got home after a 12 hour shift when I sit with my glass of wine and relax on my iPad. It is so interesting to me thank you for writing it. And thank you so much for saying you ‘dry the sweat’ I literally was debating if that was OK especially in the cooler months. So thanks for the green light on that issue! I really do appreciate you even talking about the ‘hair ‘ routine because it is a factor when figuring out how one can do it all in the morning :) at least for us woman :) kudos to you and all you are balancing :) I work full time too ( although you log in waaayyyy more hours with commuting) and I couldn’t imagine it any other way:)
      Runningnurse26 recently posted..What do you do with your running numbers?My Profile

    12. I’m an early morning runner too… 4-4:30am wake up call for me. I actually think the early morning runs are the best thing I ever did for my training! Less time = less dillydallying before, after, and during the run. Plus, I’m so much more even-keeled and patient during the day. (I work with adolescents all day!)

    13. You. Are. Amazing. I’ve always liked reading your blog and following your journey and was curious about the new normal in your life. I have no clue how you fit it all in but your tips are really good (and good for everyone not just working moms). It doesn’t look like your training is really suffering at all, but I can understand wanting a morning to sleep in once a week too/rest day. I have been working from home (no kids) for a few years and like you, sometimes I do miss dressing up but I would have to start a wardrobe from scratch to look professional. Again, I have no idea how you pull it off, except that I guess with your motivation you know you don’t have a choice if you want to work, be a great wife and mom, but also improve as a runner… and it looks like you’ve found a way :).
      Amy Lauren recently posted..Race 13.1 Charleston (1:48:35)My Profile

    14. Your drive and passion is so amazing. I admire it! When you were stuck traveling to get to Chicago with the chaos of work, yet still not miserable I was so impressed. I would have likely been a bear lol. Having a schedule is definitely key in being successful (in my opinion). Who knew your husbands company was based on Buffalo; that’s where I live! :)
      Brittany recently posted..Post Marathon Running SucksMy Profile

    15. Oh my goodness maybe it’s my pregnancy hormones right now but I was crying reading about all your sweet hubby does to help! Reminds me so much of my guy – we are so blessed huh? :)

    16. I’m so glad you’re sharing your day. It’s a tough life to marathon train, work full time, and be a mom/wife. This is the kind of post that gives me hope when I start a family one day I won’t have to give everything up, just adjust! Maybe you can give us insight after your husband travels a few times how your week or day to day looks.
      Cori @ She’s Going the Distance recently posted..The Taper Crazies!My Profile

    17. I don’t know how you do it! Amazing!
      What kind of treadmill do you have? I definitely need one. With winter coming and also working full-time, sometimes it just isn’t feasible to get outside to run.

    18. Great blog post. Thanks for sharing how you’ve adapted to your new job. I’m actually starting a new job too, after a hiatus from the workforce. I’ll be starting 11.16.15. I’m very excited…and nervous. I wanted to ask you if you would mind sharing the make and model of your treadmill. I see it’s a Precor. Eventually, my hubby and I might invest in one. You can email me (I’m sure you get my email through this comment form). Thank you!

    19. You amaze me!

      I will begin training for my first marathon (Pittsburgh, in May) in January and while everyone seems to think my nervousness and anxiety comes from the idea of running 26.2 (which, okay, that’s a lot and eeeeek!), but really, I’m concerned about the time commitment that training will bring. I already feel like my schedule is so full and busy and I’m not sure where else I can make room (without sacrificing sleep that I really need to stave off chronic fatigue issues). You have given me so much to think about with maximizing my time and making it all work!
      Lauren recently posted..Five Things Friday – 11.6.2015My Profile

    20. Amazing. I’m a morning runner as well. It’s like ‘now or never’ when the alarm goes off. I think what impresses me most is your positive attitude. If you love to run, which I think most of us that follow your blog do, then you will find the time to do it and make it work.

    21. wow Michele what an amazing insight into your daily routine. I’m in awe at your determination & drive. It’s tough going! Thank you for sharing and inviting us along on your journey!

    22. I love this, thank you for sharing a day in your life. I agree that planning and for me staying off my phone in the mornings makes a huge difference in how the mornings go. I was stressing myself out running around crazy but then realize I wasted about 15 minutes each morning scrolling! Happy Friday! Take Care.

    23. You’re such a huge inspiration, Michele. I just LOVE how much effort you put in everything you do: running, working and, especially, parenting and making time for your husband and yourself as a couple. And I also love how “OCD” we both are 😉 I, too, prepare everything the night before and have a set time for everything in the morining: shower, hair, make up…
      I have a request for you… Could you please share your strength+core routine?? Your arms are seriously out of control 😉 Thanks!

    24. WOW! I am truly amazed…what a crazy day! And you still find time to blog about it all too! Reminds me of when I was commuting from Long Island to Manhattan, almost 2 hours door to door and also training for the NYC marathon. It was a struggle but having that small window in the mornings definitely helped to keep me motivated. Keep up the great work :)

    25. I’m a long time early morning runner full time WOHM, and I love seeing the similarities and differences in people’s schedules.

      In the morning, I just get up and head out the door for my run. So my alarm goes off 4:20 and am out the door between 4:30-4:35 — I have to feed and let the dog out before I run. I have coffee after my run, while getting ready for work. I have to wash my hair every day or it drives me crazy.

      The big difference between our schedules is that I live 10 minutes from work, so I work from 7-4:30-5 most days, and am home by 5:30 at the absolute latest. We don’t have family nearby, and both my husband and I have to go in to work, so he does the mornings, and I do the evenings with the kids.

      I don’t have a set day off from running — I play it by ear. If I am particularly tired or it is raining, I sometimes turn the alarm off…

      In any case, it certainly is nice to have hit the husband jackpot!

      • Kristen – I wish I could just get up and go – I find that the coffee helps wake me up and help speed up the bathroom visit (haha)! I love the peacefulness of my morning cup of coffee too (no kids awake!) – I tried it after the run and felt I was just gulping it down and rushing to get ready!
        And I think having a floating day off is a good idea – I may end up switching to that for the very reasons you mentioned. I don’t mind running in the rain, cold, etc – but I feel like it’s brutal at 430am!
        Hope you had a great weekend!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..My “normal” day as a working + running momMy Profile

    26. Great post, Michele! I can completely relate to your early mornings and long commute. You are definitely an inspiration. So happy for you!