Half marathon training for busy moms

Runner Highlights: Erin Tracht & Michelle Hamilton

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Erin Tracht and Michelle Hamilton are Central Coast locals with numerous City to the Sea finishes under their belts. While neither are professional runners, they are very talented athletes – Erin has won City to the Sea, and Michelle has won the Big Sur Marathon. Somehow they’re able to balance being a mom while staying in shape. We caught up with these local super moms to find out how they do it.

When and how did you get started running?
Michelle: I’ve always been an athlete growing up, playing soccer and basketball all the way through high school and a little bit in college. My second year of college I started running to stay in shape and got hooked. My big brother was running marathons at the time and he convinced me to run the LA marathon with him. I barely trained, in fact the furthest I had ever ran in my life was 12 miles and I was just hoping to finish. I finished the race in 3:25 and didn’t think anything of it, in fact I was really upset that my brother beat me. Three weeks later I got a trophy in the mail for finishing 3rd in my age group.

Erin: I played soccer my whole life and took up running in order to get in shape for my wedding. I had some friends on college who were addicted and talked me into marathons. I was immediately in love with running. Before I started running with the SLO Roadrunners I made my husband ride his bike along side of me on long runs. He would pass me Gatorade and saltines!

You both have two kids, did you run through your pregnancies?
Michelle HamiltonErin: Yes I ran like crazy with my first baby: speed work and long runs… ran into the 9th month. It wasn’t comfy but I know it made the pregnancy easier. Just had to make sure to not overheat and had to make lots of pit stops!

Michelle: Yes, I ran through both pregnancies. I ran until I was 7 or 8 months pregnant, then it just became too uncomfortable. I even ran the City to Sea Half marathon (photo proof at right) when I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first child. I was just coming off of marathon training when I got pregnant, so I was still in really great shape. I ran with a friend’s husband and just went really slow and monitored my heart rate.

Now that you have young kids, how do you balance running with being a mom? There can’t be much time leftover after all that?
Erin: I love my kids and I love running. There has to be time for both. I stay home all day with them so when I get my hour to run I make the most of it, (and it is necessary for my sanity haha). Waking up at 5am or going out at 8pm on summer nites. Getting it done is the goal. On busy days, even if I only get 30 minutes, I’ll make it a tempo run to make it count.

Michelle: Its a constant balance game. My family, my acupuncture practice, and my running are all important to me, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day, things get out of balance and something gets neglected and you just have to adjust. The thing that usually suffers is my running. I have to schedule my runs around my work and kids’ schedule now, which means running before the kids get up or running during their naps (which is also the hottest time of the day). Or you may have a run planned in the AM and you are up all night with a sick child and the run has to get canceled. Its a lot to juggle, but I can’t imagine living my life any other way.

Have you battled any injuries through your running? how did you overcome them?
Michelle: I’ve been lucky to not have suffered many major injuries with my running. I’ve had some tendonitis in my Achilles when I was coming back from one of my pregnancies, which went away after 6 weeks of rest and treatment. I’m a big believer in the body’s ability to heal itself if we just allow the body rest and time. If I feel an injury coming on I think I am really good at recognizing that and taking some time off to avoid major injuries. I also believe in injury prevention so I get regular acupuncture, massage and chiropractic adjustments to keep my body functioning at its best.

Erin: Injuries?? Of course:) Mostly stress fractures. The one I had in my hip was the worst and I was out of running for a year. The most important thing I’ve learned is to stay strong and strength train. Focus on muscle imbalances. Make your weaker muscle groups stronger. And take rest days!

Erin training with the SLO RoadrunnersHow’s your training going for this year’s race, and what is your goal this year?
Erin: Training is going great, I’m just getting back from a nagging injury. My goal as always is to beat my PR. I won’t put a time out there, that’s too much pressure!!

Michelle: My training has been slow to get going this year, but with my youngest 20 months old now, I am finally starting to find some more time and energy to train. I know some women really bounce back quickly from their pregnancies and run PRs three months postpartum and stuff like that, but I have never found that to be true with me. The nursing and the lack of sleep really took a toll on me and I didn’t have much energy left over to devote to training. Of course any race you enter you have hopes of a PR, but I’m not sure if thats in the cards this go around. I think I would love just to get back in the swing of racing again and get this race under my legs and use it as a stepping stone to performing really well in the spring. I still have some big goals for both the half marathon and full marathon distances, and I think I am getting to a time in my life where they can happen.

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