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5 Great Tips For Parents Who Both Run

Photo: Courtesy of Krista Olson
Photo: Courtesy of Krista Olson

With training and racing, travel and recovery—not to mention work and kids—the running couple relationship can be chaotic. Yet, according to Krista Olson, wife to ultrarunner Tim Olson and mom to two-year-old Tristan, with a little patience and communication, it’s possible to balance a big fitness routine and have a happy—and just as healthy—relationship.

Krista, who was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of four, began running in college to be healthy. Due to weak joints, she always thought half marathon was her maximum distance. Once she and Tim moved to Ashland, Ore., she discovered the easier-on-the-joints joys of trail running and eliminated gluten, dairy, eggs and almonds from her diet to help minimize inflammation. Not only did Krista start feeling better, she started running farther, eventually working her way up to a 50K. She continued running while pregnant with Tristan and has since run several more 50Ks and even her first 50-miler!

“After having Tristan, running became my personal thing, it was something I chose to do for me,” says Olson, who is now pregnant with baby number two. “I started running faster after becoming a mom too. If I only have 30 minutes to run, I have to make it count!

Related: What Morning Runs Are Really Like For Moms

The soon-to-be mother of two shared her five tips on balancing an ultra life of kids, husband, life and running:

1. Establish a standing, weekly babysitter appointment. “We hired a babysitter right off the bat—every Saturday morning for four hours. We both realized self-care was important, so we made it a priority. Tim usually goes on his long run and I hit the trails with girlfriends. It let’s us get our personal time without juggling family time. Or we run together—run dates are how we connect. We have our best conversations on the trail. I know so many couples that divide their weekend days to split kids duty, with one running in the morning and one running in the afternoon. They are never together as a family and that wasn’t something we wanted to do.”

2. Create a set schedule for parent time and work time. “We are both self-employed, work from home and share caring for Tristan. We have a set schedule and expectations of work time and Tristan time, but we also communicate. We check in once a week to look at what’s coming up or to see if someone needs extra time. It’s all about working together make time for yourself, your family and each other.”

3. Buy a running stroller and a baby backpack. “Family running and hiking dates are amazing. Plus we think it’s important to bring Tristan with us while we do what we love. One time, we ran from Pasadena to Mt. Baldy and back in California with Tristan in his jogger. It was 5,000 feet of climbing! It was epic to share that with our kid.”

Related: 4 Nifty Jogging Strollers For Parents

4. When kids are old enough, put them on their own two feet. “Tristan isn’t quite three and has hiked Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, Colo.—it has 1,500 of vertical in a mile and a half! He was stoked on it. We make it fun and interesting—bring treats, look for wildlife, take photos, bring books. Soon we’ll start having scavenger hunts for him. He also prefers gnarly terrain. If it’s a flat trail, he wants to stay in his pack. When it’s full of rocks and roots, he’s ready to be on his feet.”

5. Cook and eat together. “Get everyone involved. It’s important to eat healthy food and kids are more excited to eat something new when they help fix it. Tristan thinks making kale chips is the greatest. Plus, it’s good family time.”

Allison Pattillo

Allison Pattillo

Allison played field hockey and golf while growing up, but always ran “just for the fun of it.” She completed and won her age group in her very first race, a 5K, when she was 26 so that she would at least know how to pin on her number before running her first marathon a month later. Those two races turned into dozens, from mile long sprints to ultras, running to triathlon with some ski and snowshoe racing mixed in as well. After earning a Boston qualifier and completing her first IRONMAN 140.6, this mother of two is now focused on seeing how much she can better her 3:48 PB marathon time, running the World Marathon Majors (Boston and Tokyo are in the books!) and tackling a 50-miler.