January 17 2018
Renee DeMarsh thrives on extreme physical challenges. She'll soon participate in the 2018 World Marathon Challenge.
Every mom is a busy woman with very little extra time on her hands. That’s why it’s so important to make the time for exercise. There are running groups across the country doing just that—finding time for moms to go for a run together.
Run Momma Run in Oregon is a perfect example. Founder Laura McClain started running as a way to clear her head and just let everything go. Then, while training for a marathon, she worked with a group to build her stamina. That’s when she had an epiphany. Why couldn’t she run with people all the time? That was seven years ago.
“It’s the best part of my day,” she said excitedly. “Whether you’re training for your first race or you’re a 100-miler, we’re all on a different part of our running journey.”
McClain loves to run on trails. She learned early on that running fast wasn’t her strong suit. But, she could keep going. After running her first trail race, she was hooked.
“It’s the added self-sufficiency and extra training with the terrain and hills,” she explained. “I like the added challenge. What’s more fulfilling than being surrounded by nature?”
McClain takes a group of up to a dozen women on those trails every week at 6 a.m. She also coaches others through her virtual courses she posts on her website.
Tanya Bunson has been running with McClain since the group first formed. She never considered herself a runner and did so sporadically. But after joining, Bunson runs four times a week now and has competed in ultra-marathons.
“I notice when I run with other people, I run faster and I slow down when I don’t,” she said. “I rarely run on my own now.”
The American College of Sports Medicine recently cited that working out together has major perks, whether it’s running or just an exercise class. “Some of the benefits include exposure to a social and fun environment, a safe and effectively designed workout, a consistent exercise schedule, an accountability factor for participating in exercise, and a workout that requires no prior exercise knowledge or experience.”
Caroline Minella who lives in Connecticut started running after her third child. Wanting to get back in shape, she heard about a group through her children’s school. Pretty soon, she was running Ragnar Relays with Girls Gone Miles. She wasn’t quite prepared for two or three nights sleeping in a van, but the experience was one of a kind.
“It’s almost like having a trainer when you’re running with a group,” she explained. “It’s the support and the accountability. You want to be strong and you’ve got to keep up.”
Minella commented that running with a bunch of moms at different points in their lives meant she learned something new every time. With a group of runners ranging from late 30s to early 50s, the perspective of motherhood ranges from babies to college.
“We’re all in different phases of our lives,” she said. “I always come out happier and more refreshed and more positive after. We do that for one another.”
Jennifer Iaccarino runs with Minella and is one of the founding members of Girls Gone Miles. While she admitted she still loves to run solo, she couldn’t imagine running without them.
“We’ve formed this great bond,” she said, agreeing with Minella. “Once we did the first Ragnar staying in a van for 40 hours and running at 3 a.m., it really does make it a special experience.”
The group is now up to 16 members. When they are not busy running races for charity, they happily run together in a five or ten mile loop.
Erin Flynn launched FitMamas in Massachusetts two years ago as a moms running and fitness club—even offering regular babysitting for those who need it. She worked in sales and marketing for renowned running shoe and apparel company, Saucony. But once she had her first child, all the business travel made it impossible to juggle life and baby. She made the choice to stay home but had to get back to running. This time, she did it with other people.
“I wanted a connection to running and to meet other moms,” said Flynn. “I knew the idea had some interest and the group just grew organically.”
She now works with about 30 women ranging from 30 to 50 years old. Flynn likes meeting them on a local high school track. That way, no matter what the pace is runners can still be in the same space as the rest of the group.
“Initially, I thought about making the group co-ed,” she explained. “But I really wanted it to be inclusive and just moms. A lot of them wouldn’t come if there were guys. Too intimidating.”
Flynn also helps moms with a workout plan if they can’t make it to the track. She has regular clients from nearby New Hampshire and Maine. If their schedules don’t allow for a face-to-face training, she even offers online support through email and YouTube clips.
All of these groups encourage women to run—not just for the fitness, but the emotional closeness and connection. It’s as much the accountability of showing up when it’s cold, rainy, or dark as it is the support from fellow runners.
“You find that you’re going through similar things in life,” remarked Tanya Bunson. “It’s a distraction from the actual running. It makes the run go faster.”