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This topic: The cost of being a Mother Runner has crossed my mind so many times.  Most ideas come to me while running and this one no different!  After my experience last night, I knew it was time to get it all on paper.

Before we begin, I would like to say, I fully recognize men have their own set of challenges when it comes to hobbies, fitness, life goals or otherwise.   This post is not to discount your struggle – it is to highlight the unique mental and physical toughness women in this world continue to demonstrate to live their passions and achieve their biggest dreams.   Emotionally, physically and monetarily the Cost of being a Mother Runner can get steep…so to my Mommas…no matter the age of your babies…this one is for YOU! 


As these words are typed I sit on my couch this beautiful 60 degree December morning drinking coffee, listening to the sound of the washer churning and taking in the smell of peppermint, lemon and lavender from the essential oil diffuser.  My entertainment? Watching our children romp all over each other like they are straight out of the book, “Where the Wild Things Are”.  While it is certainly one of my favorite scenes in life it is not what I imagined this exact morning to look like! 

You see as of 8pm last night I was packed and ready to head to Carolina Beach for a super fun and promisingly muddy 13.1 miles in the woods with my running and FiA bud.  (side note: if you’ve never heard of FiA – check it out here: , such a great community!)

Back to the story! Planned, paid for, fully hydrated – babysitter lined up…trained and ready to come back from a broken pinky toe.  Which caused me to defer from my original “come back” race after a pretty rough injury this summer. (A tear in my spinal wall tissue from deadlifting like the NFL signs my paychecks.)  Can we say #toomuch

Nonetheless, I’ve learned some valuable lessons and rehabbed like a Champion!  I am SO DING DANG READY to RACE Ya’ll!!!  #nottodaymarj #nottoday

Fate had other plans…little man started to deteriorate around 4pm last night…I saw his cheeks getting red and that little three-year-old voice went hoarse with a slight cough.  He took a 3-hour nap and went right back to bed at 8.  I reasoned…he just has a little cough or cold and all will be fine, sitter can handle it.  At about 11pm I hear him crying from the bathroom, go in there and pick him up to immediately realize we are both covered in something wet, the smell quickly follows.  What the What…anguish emoji face! 

Long story short, I told myself maybe this is a fluke and he was coughing so much he puked…I can get through this and if he doesn’t throw up again, I will still race, yay!!  Took all the sheets outside – sprayed them out with the water hose (these are the moments you simultaneously adore your spouse for having an expandable hose right by the back porch and wonder with disbelief at how they can not possibly be awake and partaking in the clean-up with all the commotion) got the laundry going – showered – changed.  On the couch with the baby, sleeping feet to feet in no time.  Best pre-race sleeping arrangements I can think of…eye roll emoji here!

Well, as you can imagine there was more puking and more cleaning up and a lot less sleep and no racing for Marj.  I think I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going at about 3:30am and texted my running partner.  She totally understood, and for that I am so grateful!  An experienced Momma herself, she TOTALLY gets it!  In fact, her words gave me a whole lot of comfort as I was accepting my DNS fate.

3:30am texts from my Race Partner: 

Me: Baby has been up puking all night…as much as I can’t believe I am typing this, I can’t leave him with a sitter.

G: I totally understand!  Don’t think another thing about it..

Me: Maybe God has a reason I’m not on the road today – I don’t know and probably never will…

G: You might not but…being a mom and being there when needed is so important…it is so hard in the midst…but they grow up so fast and you won’t look back and say “I wish I had run that race instead of staying home with my sick baby”

Me: With a few 4am tears.  Thank you!  I REALLY needed to hear that!! I love you, Greer!! You will never know the inspiration and encouragement you’ve given me as a runner AND a mother!!

It’s funny because this is not the first time I’ve gotten side tracked from a race because of Motherhood.  Two years ago, before one of my favorite races the North Myrtle Beach Winter Fun Run my daughter started to toss cookies the night before…my hubby was off work, so I headed out to race anyway.  Toed the line feeling a bit off and by mile 7 I was darting into the woods with stomach problems of my own.  To spare you the details I BARELY finished the 15K and BARELY drove myself home and then proceeded to ride out the storm on our living room floor while all 4 of us were sick at once. 

Next year same race, flu.  Thankfully I never caught it but try running a 15K after caring for two sick littles!!  It took almost my ENTIRE Fleet Feet Myrtle Beach Crew to run me in.   I was slow, exhausted and quite frankly pissed off at my performance that day!  

Those are a few of the circumstances that were completely out of my control!  And then plenty of choices I’ve made on my own.  With both of our children we elected to nurse exclusively for 6 months and then both of our babies weaned beyond a year.  I will never forget the feelings of engorgement after my very first Post Baby half marathon.  The Diva’s half to be exact!  All the early mornings to “pump extra” so there would be enough milk for training runs and work and race day.  A labor of love for sure.  Did it make things easier, no.  But I wouldn’t change a thing! Pump ’em if you got ’em!

Nurse ’em if you got ’em!

A few of the other challenges I have personally overcome to stay in the game as a woman and Mother Runner:

  • Feeling just a little uneasy running alone. 

  • Always carrying protection with me when I run alone.  ALWAYS! 

  • Annoying beeps, cat calls and hollers out the window.  Annoying, yes…but I just keep cruising!

  • Lack of Sleep, Ha!  Face it – when your children wake up in the middle of the night, they want Momma!

  • Coming back after pregnancy.  While I did stay active, running was not something I felt passionate about during pregnancy.  Coming back to running felt like I was clawing my way to my previous fitness almost every step of the way and let’s face it, I can now easily pee my pants while doing jumping jacks.    First Post-Baby mile after our son. One. Singular. Mile. No more no less!

  • Paying a sitter on a Saturday when your spouse must work so you can run a race you’ve been working hard for.

  • Juggling schedules and choosing dance recitals and soccer games over races. 

  • Have you ever pushed 90 lbs in a double stroller?

  • Rushing home after you cross the finish line to relieve a sick spouse or babysitter, so you don’t have to pay for another hour of care. Running at the crack of dawn so you can spend the evening with your family.

  • Being dead dog tired by 9pm because you got up early to run. 

  •  Sweet little paws clawing on you and crying when you leave to go for a run.  Thankfully this has gotten less and less as they get older…but now when I get back, they want pancakes!

  • Germs….all the germs.  As highlighted in my story above.  Germs can derail any great training plan! 

  • And Big HUGE hands up to those single Mommas out there still crushing goals, running and otherwise!  I will NEVER know how you do it!  You are the Real MVP! 


    …After last night, I almost resolved to NEVER sign up for a Winter Race again…but the truth is, I am in a season…and am also 100% sure running with older children brings challenges of its own.  I don’t want to rush it, I don’t “look forward” to the day they can watch themselves while I dart out the door to run.  Time can turn as slowly as it would like to while my babies are little.

    So, no! I will not give up on my dreams this year, and I have BIG ONES!  While I won’t be racing every weekend, or even every month – I have some unfinished business on the horizon and I am so excited and confident to tackle it! 

    I will also not feel A SINGLE OUNCE OF ‘MOMMY GUILT’ when I am out for a run or racing my tail off at my swift 11 min mile pace!  They don’t call me turtle for Nothing….lol!!

    I am blessed to have great care for them when I am gone, and you can bet your money maker I am one awesome, present, loving, caring, great dinner cooking, book reading, outside playing, tickle monster Momma when we are together.  We give SO MUCH to our families, it’s OKAY to want something for yourself!  

    Post race pancakes after this year’s Turkey Trot!

    Don’t EVER forget your dreams matter and YES, you can be an awesome Mother and an awesome Mother Runner at the same time.

    I would LOVE to hear about the challenges you have personally overcome to continue your Passion!!!  Running or otherwise!!  Feel free to drop me a comment and keep the conversation going. 

    Love and Miles, 


    My first 5K with K! 💜

    Another really rad Mother Runner and Momma Warrior I am honored to know, Heather!

    That one time we thought we were doing a little 5K and ended up pushing 3 strollers and 7 kids on trail over stumps and sand. #strongmotherrunners Such great memories!!!

    Chasing those Marathon dreams with my Mother Runner, training partner & #soulmate, Julie!

    Me, being the Best Mother I can possibly be!

    2 comments on “The Cost of Being a Mother Runner

    1. Susan says:

      YOU are a wonderful Mother Runner. And, the examples you set for your babies ( such as the importance of family, importance of self care, importance of finding your balance, etc) are priceless and really important life lessons.


      1. mhilbourn says:

        Thank you so much, Susan! I get my inspiration from the women like you in my life!!!


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