Many runners don’t give a second thought to lacing up their shoes for a few miles after work. For expecting mothers or moms with new babies, though, running changes when they’re not hitting the trail solo anymore.
Brigid Pickett, 29, picked up running a few years ago when she and her husband lived in Colorado, but she now runs around southern Arizona with her two children: a 3-year-old daughter named Mila, and a 5-month-old son, Beck. But it wasn’t a simple transition—running behind a stroller took some getting used to.
Pickett talked with us about running while pregnant, how to push a stroller, and where running and motherhood intersect for her.
Fleet Feet: How did you get into running?
Brigid Pickett: I grew up running to stay fit for other sports like soccer and field hockey, but I didn’t fall in love with the sport itself until moving to Colorado and having my daughter in 2015. My husband got into ultrarunning during my pregnancy when we were living in Colorado Springs. Initially I thought trails and ultras were out of my league, but once I gave it a try I became hooked. Running brought out a sense of strength and confidence in myself that I didn’t know I had.
FF: Then you had kids, and running changed. First of all, you started running with a stroller. How did you manage that?
BP: I’ve found running with the stroller is a love-hate relationship for most moms. It’s hard! But it’s an amazing way for a new mom to continue to run while being able to bring her baby along. It’s a great way to work your run into your day without having to worry about finding childcare or getting to the gym.
I have found that getting my kids used to being pushed in the stroller at a young age has helped them enjoy going for runs with me. My son always falls asleep, and if my daughter is with us we chat about toddler things and are likely to find a playground to stop at. Stroller running has been a special way to share my love of running with my kids. We’re all able to get fresh air and spend quality time together.
I’d suggest that a new mom talks to her pediatrician about when is the right time for her to start running with her baby in the stroller.
FF: You ran through 40 weeks of your second pregnancy. How did you do it, and why do you think it has helped you postpartum?
BP: Running through the pregnancy of my son was a really special and challenging experience. Running had become such an important part of my life before I became pregnant so I knew I didn’t want to give it up if I didn’t have to. Fortunately my body allowed me to continue, and my midwife gave me the green light, so I kept running. It was by no means easy. I struggled with the immediate change in my pace, my labored effort, and eventually the aches and pains that come with pregnancy and running with a growing belly. I gradually began to accept that my pace and distance didn’t matter, what mattered was that I was sharing in this special journey of getting out into the mountains and running with my healthy baby. I recognized that being able to run pregnant with my son was a gift and not a burden.
FF: Any advice for other soon-to-be mothers wanting to continue running through pregnancy?
BP: Give yourself and your body grace. Listen to your body (and your doctor) and take things one day and one run at a time. The changes to your body and your running capabilities are inevitable, and that’s OK. Pregnancy may feel like a long and challenging phase of life while you’re in the thick of it, but in the scheme of things it’s going to pass by so quickly. Savor the experience of getting outside with your growing baby in tow whether you’re running or walking.
FF: Now with two kids, how have you created a sustainable routine to help keep you—and your family—on a healthy track?
BP: It’s so challenging. I’m still learning! I am a stay at home mom, so I have quite a bit of freedom in my daily schedule but very little time to myself. I do most of my running with the jogging stroller a few mornings each week. I have found running earlier in the day sets up the rest of my day for success. After a run I feel more upbeat, patient, and ready to tackle the craziness of the day with my baby and toddler.
I get out on my longer trail runs during the weekend when my husband is home to watch the kids. After having my son, I have become more diligent about doing strength exercises to help my body heal and to keep me running strong. I sneak those in during nap times or plop my baby on the floor next to me when he’s in a good mood. Keeping my strength routine short and sweet helps make it feel less stressful to work in.
Flexibility is key for parents with young kids. You’re going to have to cut some runs short or skip them all together, and that’s fine. Kids get sick, weather is bad, or you’re just having one of those days. Planning is important, so work with your partner to find a way to make it work for your family. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If running is what brings you joy, you can figure out a way to fit it into your life, even if it looks a little bit different now that you have a new family member in the picture.
FF: You talk a lot about how running and motherhood are your favorite things. How do they affect each other?
BP: There are challenging and rewarding aspects of both running and motherhood. Running has helped bring balance and clarity to my life during this hectic time of mothering young children. Running gives me the space and time to take care of myself and then come home more grounded with a clearer perspective on what truly matters. Running allows me to push my boundaries, and it lifts my self-esteem.
I hope that my love for running teaches my children a thing or two. I want them to see that a woman’s hobbies and passions don’t have to end with motherhood. I want them to find a passion that make them happy, and I want them to make it a priority. My hope is that my kids are not afraid of setting challenging goals and working hard to reach them. I want them to know they don’t have to be the best at what they do—what matters is that they give their best.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity
Photos courtesy of Hana Asano
By Kate Schwartz. Schwartz has been running competitively for 20 years, and she currently runs with the Asheville Running Collective. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, Alex, and their cat, Clementine.