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As if finding the time and motivation to stick to a training plan weren’t tough enough, try doing it while juggling the responsibilities of motherhood! Luckily you don’t have to go it alone thanks to Another Mother Runner (AMR), a spirited tribe of like-minded athletes who know that being a mom doesn’t have to mean being an ex-runner. The AMR community offers the expertise, resources and support to empower mothers (and otherwise overextended women) to stay motivated, put in the miles and chase milestones.

We caught up with Co-Mother-Runner-in-Chief Dimity McDowell to discuss the awesome power of the AMR community and how the Train Like a Mother Club can help busy women get in the game and across any finish line — without losing their family, job or sanity.

RR: For those who aren’t (yet) familiar with Another Mother Runner and specifically Train Like a Mother, tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

DM: I am a former sports & fitness journalist; at various points in my career, I’ve covered everything from the Women’s World Cup to the X Games. When Sarah Bowen Shea and I wrote about training for and running the 2006 Nike Women’s Marathon for Runner’s World, we unexpectedly and happily caught a wave of women’s running. In 2010, the year Run Like a Mother was released, the number of women runners was dominating all race distances except the marathon, which was in the low 40’s percentagewise (respectable, given the first Olympic women’s marathon was in 1984).

Our perspective on running wasn’t as clinical as most books out there — yes, time, mileage and pace matter, but we also wanted to address all the other reasons why women run: to have some alone time, to have some friend time, to minimize depression, to lose weight, to listen to their own music, to benefit their body, mind, and spirit. That perspective resonated, and we followed it up with Train Like a Mother (in 2012) and Tales from Another Mother Runner in 2015. The Train Like a Mother Club was officially launched in 2015. We created it, like all the other things associated with Another Mother Runner, because we saw a need to help female runners commit to training and improve as athletes — a challenging task to do when you’ve got a packed to-do list.

Although it may seem like I’m a hardcore runner, I’m far from it. My athletic claim-to-fame is that I was a former elite rower and did one IRONMAN. Recent injuries have forced me to dial back on my straight-up running, but I know staying active is crucial to my well-being. And I’m looking forward to some upcoming adventures: I’ll be hiking the Grand Canyon in June and doing a swimrun in August.

RR: Aside from its cool name, what distinguishes TLAM from other training programs?

DM: The Train Like a Mother Club is unique because it is a blend of two important features that a runner/athlete needs to thrive: teamwork and coaching.

The teamwork part: Each program has a private Facebook page and private Strava club, so your teammates can heap kudos on you after a strong run, commiserate after a crap run, and otherwise connect. The result, after a training cycle together, is that people are invested in their teammates. The race reports — and comments after them — are crazy long and always inspiring to read, even if the race didn’t go as planned.

The coaching part: Each program has at least one expert coach who is regularly accessible. In addition to weekly newsletters with her advice, athletes can ask questions on a weekly Ask the Coach column, tune into monthly live webinars/podcasts, and call them directly during office hours. (The coaches have also written all the training regimens, which include both running & strength circuits and are designed with busy women in mind.) The result? Athletes receive a super solid training plan and can grab the individual help they need for their personal situation — at a cost significantly less than one-on-one coaching typically is.

RR: TLAM offers an array of programs for runners with diverse training goals — can you “run” us through the different programs?

DM: Our goal is to support you from your first step to the finish line, whether that finish line is your first 10K or a 50-miler. Our Traditional Running Programs include 10K (Run/Walk; Race), Half Marathon (Run/Walk; Run; Race) and Marathon (Go the Distance & Crush the Distance). We have a full array of Heart Rate-Based Running Programs, including half marathon and marathon programs, as well as introductory programs like Heart Rate 101. If you want to go long, we’ve got 50K and 50-mile options in the Ultra Programs, and if you’re a triathlete, we’ve got you covered from sprint to IRONMAN distances. And programs for Ragnar Road & Trail round things out.

Complementing the programs that require a sports bra are Nourished Like a Mother (nutrition) and Perform Like a Mother (sports psychology) — two important elements that often go neglected by those of us who can easily become hyper-focused on the numbers of running.

RR: Who are your coaches and how do you recruit/select them?

DM: We have an AMAZING team of coaches who embody the #motherrunner perspective: take your running seriously, take yourself not so seriously, and do your best with what each day serves up for you. They light a spark when you need a (gentle) push out the door; give you a virtual hug — and helpful advice — when your IT band is barking; and celebrate all your victories, whether that’s swimming 100 consecutive yards or running 26.2 miles. Having been in the endurance sports world for decades, I was fortunate to be able to connect with them either directly or through referrals.

RR: A more general question, since you talk with runners at so many different stages of their running careers: When should a runner consider joining a training program?

DM: Honestly, every runner would benefit from a training program because it offers a few important features:

  1. Consistency & accountability: It’s easy to skip a run (or three) when you’re a solo operator. But it’s easier — not easy necessarily, but easier — to stick to a plan when you know you have to report back and/or you’ve seen somebody else in a situation similar to yours, and she got it done.
  2. A thoughtful, deliberate program: Every race distance deserves respect and a training plan that builds in mileage/intensity safely. Too many of us make it up on the fly and end up with a stress fracture, frustration, or some other sidelining issue.
  3. Strength training: Not always fun, but vital if you want to avoid injury and continue to be able to run for many years.

RR: Can you share an inspirational story or two made possible by TLAM?

DM: Here are three Facebook posts that convey the TLAM Spirit!

Yesterday was a great day! Today I can’t walk down my stairs, but the outcome yesterday makes it worthwhile. I finished the Flying Pig setting a new PR and achieving my goal of sub-1:50. I ran just under 1:48!! Thanks to Coach Amanda Loudin for such a great plan. I’ve never trained quite like this and loved (almost) every minute of it. Thanks to all you ladies for daily inspiration. I didn’t post much, but reading all your stories gave me strength and motivation along the way. Now to plan the next race…
— Alison, on the 13.1 Race Program

Week 3, Day 3: Just popping in to say that I can’t believe I’m saying this… but I’m actually starting to look forward to these runs! I’ve always liked the IDEA of running, but every.single.time I’ve attempted to get into it, I find myself a) falling short of my goals b) not enjoying myself c) getting injured and d) getting discouraged, but in the form of dismissively or even cheerfully claiming that “I’m not really cut out for this whole running thing anyway.” TURNS OUT I JUST DIDN’T HAVE THE RIGHT COACH, PROGRAM, or GOALS YET!!
— Emily, Heart Rate 101 participant

Yesterday was such a relief. Went grocery shopping and so much of the confusion I usually feel was absent. Walked in, had a simple list, felt good about all my purchases, bought at least a third less volume-wise visually looking at my cart and even my bill came out under the norm. This alone is worth the price of admission. What used to feel 🤯 is now 💃🏻. I’ve been following the guidelines pretty well and seeing so many amazing changes in my skin, energy, mental clarity — and that’s with a lot of imperfection working the plan. Most days are B-grade work, some A and a few D–. 🤷‍♀️ Can’t wait to see what other pleasant surprises unfold as I keep up at it.
— Jessica, in Simply Nourished Like a Mother

And don’t forget to use code RRTLAM10 to save 10% on any TLAM running/triathlon/ultra training plan! Offer does not include Perform Like a Mother or Nourish Like a Mother programs or merchandise. Valid through August 31, 2018.

(All photos courtesy of Another Mother Runner)

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