Runner Moms Podcast | Episode 009

A Guide to Stroller Running, Building Community and Travel Running

Anita Schorlemmer is a German born national and, after living in Hawaii for nearly 20 years, she’s currently living back in Germany where her husband is stationed with the U.S. military. She’s the mom of two young kiddos and has some amazing races and travel runs under her belt. Anita began running as a youth when she was required to participate in a sport. In high school, she was diagnosed with asthma and discovered that running helped her manage her asthma symptoms. 

Over the years, ‘having to run’ turned into ‘wanting to run’ for Anita. She became immersed in running communities while living in Hawaii and has continued building up a community of supportive runner moms around her in Germany as well. She has already accomplished some amazing running goals, such as qualifying for the Boston Marathon after having her second child, and also has several impressive future goals that she wants to achieve. 

She joins this episode of the Runner Moms podcast to pass along a ton of great tips for the Runner Moms community including stroller running advice, tips for including time for your goals within a packed household schedule and so much more. 

Visit Anita’s Website: https://strollerninja.com

Connect with Anita on Instagram: @strollerninja

Support the Runner Moms Podcast: https://www.patreon.com/RunnerMoms

Enter the SCOUT Family Equipment Giveaway:

This episode’s sponsor, SCOUT Family Equipment, is giving away a vehicle stroller rack designed for the very popular BOB Revolution jogging stroller to one lucky Runner Mom’s follower. It’s like a bike rack for your BOB jogging stroller. The SCOUT stroller rack, which is designed for all models of BOB Revolution stroller is a game changer. Head over to the Runner Moms Instagram page to view the official giveaway details and to enter the giveaway. You can find Runner Moms on Instagram at @runner.moms. Thanks to the team at SCOUT Family Equipment for sponsoring this exciting giveaway.

As an added bonus, SCOUT is offering a sitewide discount of 25% of all of their great products to the Runner Moms community. Just enter coupon code RunnerMoms at checkout on their website at scoutfamilyequipment.com.

Episode Transcript:

Introduction:

Welcome to the Runner Moms Podcast where we help women embrace their inner strength, take time for themselves and lead healthier lives. So, settle in and soak up some inspiration. Then rise, lace up those running shoes and embrace your inner strength because, momma, you run this world. 

Shayla:

Hey Runner Moms, welcome to episode 9 of the Runner Moms podcast. I’m Shayla, Founder of the Runner Moms community. Before I introduce today’s guest, I’m excited to announce a giveaway from today’s show sponsor, SCOUT Family Equipment. The team at SCOUT is giving away a vehicle stroller rack designed for the very popular BOB Revolution jogging stroller to one lucky Runner Mom’s follower. It’s like a bike rack for your BOB jogging stroller. I don’t know about you, but I hate throwing my stroller into the back of my vehicle not only because of the space it takes up but also because of the mud and grime it leaves behind. The SCOOUT stroller rack, which is designed for all models of BOB Revolution stroller is a game changer. 

Head over to the Runner Moms Instagram page to view the official giveaway details and to enter the giveaway. You can find Runner Moms on Instagram at @runner.moms and I’ll also include a link in the show notes. As an added bonus, SCOUT is offering a sitewide discount of 25% of all of their great products to the Runner Moms community. Just enter coupon code RunnerMoms at checkout on their website at scoutfamilyequipment.com. That’s RunnerMoms, all one word. You can also find that coupon code and a link to their website in this episode’s show notes. Thanks to the team at SCOUT Family Equipment for sponsoring this exciting giveaway. Learn more about SCOUT by visiting their website at scoutfamilyequipment.com. 

Now on to today’s show. Join me on this episode is Anita Schorlemmer, also known as @strollerninja over on Instagram. Anita is a German born national and after living in Hawaii for nearly 20 years, she’s currently living back in Germany where her husband is stationed with the military. She’s the mom of two young kiddos and has some amazing races and travel runs under her belt. She’s here to pass along a ton of great tips for the Runner Moms community including stroller running advice, tips for including time for your goals within a packed household schedule and so much more. So, with that, let’s welcome Anita to the show. 

Well, welcome to the Runner Moms podcast, Anita! I’m so excited to have you on the show today. 

Anita:

Well, thank you for having me. 

Shayla:

Yeah, this is going to be a great conversation. You just have such an interesting story that I’m excited to share with the Runner Moms community and I know that you have a lot of tips in the realm of stroller running too, so I want to dive into that in just a bit. But, maybe just to start us off, would you want to take a moment and introduce yourself to the Runner Moms community? Maybe share where you live, how many kids you have, just anything else about your back story that you’d like to share. 

Anita:

Of course. Well, we currently live in Germany in the Stuttgart area because my husband is in the U.S. Army and that is where we got stationed. We have two little girls. We have a six-year-old who just started second grade and a three-year-old and she’s going to a German kindergarten where they are out in the forest every day. 

Shayla:

Oh wow, that sounds amazing. 

Anita:

It is! It’s pretty cool. 

Shayla:

So, I know that you’re originally from Germany, correct?

Anita:

Yes, I mean if you haven’t noticed my accent. 

Shayla:

So, how long have you and your family been back in Germany and kind of where did you come from before then? Do you kind of want to tell us a little about that back story?

Anita:

Of course. We have been back in Germany for two years and change now. It just, it’s wonderful to be back. I didn’t even know that I missed Germany until I came back. I mean, I always missed it of course, but I didn’t know how much I missed it until I came back. I was gone for almost 20 years and most of that time was actually in Hawaii. So, we came from Hawaii to Germany. 

Shayla:

So, what brought you to Hawaii originally, 20 years ago?

Anita:

Originally, it was school. So, for my college program, well, I picked a college program because we were required to go abroad for at least one semester. I wanted to go to Australia but I couldn’t really afford it. So, I had a spot in England but that was too close because we go to England all of the time. I had a spot in Singapore but, at the time, being 19, 20 years old, I was like, mmmm, I’m too afraid and unsure of the Asian culture at the time. I had a spot in the mainland USA but, I had a high school exchange experience and I didn’t really want to go back to the mainland U.S.

Then, there was this professor, he said, “Oh, I’m building up a lab.” I was going to college for molecular bioengineering. He said, “I’m building up a lab and I need a student. I need an ungrad.” Which, I was at the time. And, he said, “I’ll pay your visa. I’ll give a stipend. Please come.” So, I went. I went to Hawaii. And, for my research, about Hawaii, I was like, well Hawaii seems culturally different than the mainland U.S. So, I was like, “ok, let’s go!”

Then, I went and it was a great experience in terms of, well, culturally, obviously, but also for my academics and for my research skills in the professor’s laboratory. Then, I came back for my thesis. I came back for my master thesis. I came back and did my PhD studies there where I met my husband and I kind of stayed. 

Shayla:

Haha, well, it’s pretty hard to pass up a stipend and all of that great stuff. And you’re going to Hawaii so, and you met your husband there. Yeah, sounds like a great turnout! 

Anita:

Both of my kids were born there, so, good times!

Shayla:

So, back in Germany, are you close to your family, to where you grew up or is it kind of a distance?

Anita:

So, we are in driving distance and, before, I visited once a year or sometimes every other year because Hawaii was halfway around the world and especially during college times, it was a steep price to pay a ticket back home. Now, we go visit them as often as we can because it’s just a three hour drive. 

Shayla:

I’m sure they’re ecstatic to have you close and to see the kids and you and your husband. Well, let’s turn now to your running story. When did you first start running?

Anita:

I’ve kind of always been running. In elementary school, we had to do extracurricular sports activities. Well, I’ve never been a fan of balls. Flying balls, fast balls, hard balls, small balls. They’re, I don’t know, I don’t like them coming at me, necessarily. I also couldn’t throw balls. Jumping, forget jumping, I can not jump. So, the only thing left was running, so that’s what I had to do. I had to run. So they made me run the cross country. They make me run the track. I was not particularly fast, but I was not the slowest. So, that worked. So, that’s how it started. 

Shayla:

So, did you enjoy running back then?

Anita:

Not that I can remember. 

Shayla:

It was more of a had to do than a want to do. 

Anita:

It was a have to, yes. 

Shayla:

So, when did the shift come from that having to run toward wanting to run as an adult?

Anita:

I’m not quite sure because I kept running after elementary school. I kept running, nothing extraordinary. I just kept running. It turns out actually that it was helping my asthma. At first, I had to run track, and then the coach was like, “Anita, why are you sounding like you’re gonna die?” I was like, “I don’t know.”

So, my mom took me to the doctor and it turned out, oh boo hoo, Anita has asthma. But, it turned out that the more I ran, the better it got. The more controlled it got. So, I just kept it up. I could tell when I wasn’t running because of life or whatever, it got worse. So, the natural consequence I guess was, well gotta keep running. In Hawaii, actually, my roommate at the time, he asked, he always saw me run because I wanted to run and he was like, “Hey, why don’t you come with me to the Honolulu clinic this Sunday?” I said, “Why?” He said, “Oh, just because.” I said, “Ok.”

Then, on that day, they happened to be running 16 miles. I had never run 16 miles in my life before that but they ran as a group. They were chit chatting and cruising. I was doing other sports at the time. I was doing mootsi at the time. So, I was physically and cardio like, ok. I was fit. And after that 16 mile run, I was like, oh that wasn’t bad. I can do this again. And before you knew it by the end of the year I had run my first marathon. Nothing fancy. I mean my time was like a 5:30 hour marathon. So, nothing where you’d be like, oh wow, I ran this fast. No, but I ran something that I had never considered running. Then, I considered myself a runner I think. Then, it started, oh, let’s see if I actually prepare for this, how fast can I be? And I want to say this is where I came from having to run to wanting to run. 

Shayla:

So, is asthma something that you still deal with to this day?

Anita:

Yes.

Shayla:

Does it affect you at all with running or how does that interplay work? 

Anita:

Thankfully because I think I have it fairly well managed, it just means I carry my inhaler. I’ll take it before I run and usually that’s the extent of it. If I don’t have the inhaler, I have to have runs cut short because I just couldn’t breath and I had to stop. But, thankfully nothing major has happened most of the time. There were a couple of times when I was a little worse but I got over it and I’m still running. 

Shayla:

As we’ll get into in a bit, with your progression into running, I think that’s pretty amazing with having asthma and progressing to those extreme lengths as a runner. That’s pretty amazing on what you’ve been able to do. Looking through your history as a runner and the progressions that you’ve had, what would you say is your greatest accomplishment as a runner?

Anita:

The first thing that comes to my mind is actually just that I’ve been able to keep running as a part of my life through everything. Through college. Through ups and through downs. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. But running was always there. So, I think that’s the main thing that I’m kind of proud of but also that I ran a Boston qualifying time at the last year’s Berlin marathon. 

Shayla:

Uh yeah, that’s pretty amazing!

Anita:

Kind of proud of that one!

Shayla:

As you should be!

Anita:

And then recently, now that we have the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no races so it’s kind of hard to stay motivated to keep running, but now, this year, I’ve been measuring my accomplishments by how tell and how awesome was the mountain that I have climbed? And how pretty was the scenery? 

Shayla:

Uh, that’s great! Yeah, those are good measurements. So, looking back, you know, you mentioned, that you’ve run through the ups and the downs of life. Through kind of every milestone of life that you have been through. What do you think that running has brought you through those different milestones that you have faced?

Anita:

Consistency and that when I stick with it, I can just go and overcome anything. It’s just one step at a time, just like in running. 

Shayla:

Let’s turn to a bit in talking about a favorite destination that you’ve run. I know that you said your focus now is kind of focusing on the scenery and nature and in looking at that when there aren’t races coming up to look forward to, maybe let’s talk about just that focus on the destinations and maybe what your favorite destination has been. 

Anita:

Well, my most favorite destination face actually has been before the COVID times. Way before. That was in Puerto Rico. I did a back to back. I did the half Ironman triathlon in Puerto Rico and then a week later I did the Puerto Rico marathon. I was there so, you know, might as well do both. Sadly, my husband couldn’t come because my husband is from Puerto Rico. But, I could bring my older daughter at the time. She was two. Two or three. And the entire family from my husband’s side was there. They took me to the start. They took care of the baby. They came to the finish and along the course, there were friends and family just cheering for me. It was so awesome!

In Hawaii, yes, we have friends and over the years you make a big network of friends and family-like network but it was actual family there, for me. Just for me! It was so awesome. 

Shayla:

Oh, that’s amazing! And you probably hadn’t been able to spend that much time with his family I would imagine. 

Anita:

Yeah, not yet. And then, I was there by myself so they literally were there for me. Not for him. They were there for me! It was awesome!

Shayla:

Oh, that’s incredible. So, what got you interested in destination running? Do you remember?

Anita:

It’s just a good reason to go to places that I might not go otherwise. 

Shayla:

Yeah, that’s something that I’m interested in doing, of course, when the pandemic is over. I see that kind of as the next progression of my running journey. My husband and I love to travel and just kind of being able to slowly see the scenery in the destination that you’re visiting just sounds really amazing to me. 

Anita:

One of my recent runs, I went to the Austrian Alps and it was just spectacular. Just be out there in the mountains, high up in the clouds by myself because all of the fast runners had already finished so I was by myself! But it was glorious. I took photos and videos and I’m still kind of drooling over it when I watch the videos. It’s just awesome. 

Shayla:

That right there is a page out of my bucket list dream world. I would love to visit the Austrian Alps. That sounds absolutely incredible. 

Anita:

Hopefully I’m still here and then I can show you. 

Shayla:

Oh, that would be amazing! So, you’ve also transitioned into trail running and ultra running. Do you want to talk about when that shift happened and what inspired you to kind of make that progression or change?

Anita:

It was just one of the people that I ran with in Hawaii. They said, “Hey, why don’t you come to this run. We’re running in these and these mountains.” I said, “Sure, why not.” And I ran on the trail and it was amazing. It was so different than road running. Then I said, “Oh, well there are more runs with more people.” And then I ran more runs with other people. Then it became races and the trails became longer until they became longer than a marathon. All the sudden it gradually just happened because of people. People just drag me, and I follow. 

Shayla:

Well, they sound like good people to be around in my opinion. 

Anita:

They are. They are pretty awesome. 

Shayla:

So, what is the biggest difference that you’ve noticed between road running versus trail running? Whether the actual environment or the people, anything there that you want to talk about?

Anita:

One of the main things that I would say is the pace. For me anyways. So, on the road, yes, I focus on the pace. I look at my watch. Oh, I’m running too slow, I had better hurry up. On the trail, I hardly look at the watch. Sometimes I do and it’s like, oo, how much elevation did I get?

But, for me at least, it’s less about the pace. It’s more about the people that I run with and the scenery. Period. And how muddy can we get?

Shayla:

Ha! I ran my first kind of little trail race if you will this past weekend. It was just six miles. It was nothing major. 

Anita:

That is awesome!

Shayla:

It was! I noticed a big, I mean, on road races, yes, you think about your pace and all of that. And then I wasn’t ready I guess for that shift in this small trail race. There were about three really steep hills and I wasn’t, you know, I hadn’t thought in advance about needing to probably walk up those hills. Or I wasn’t aware that they would be there. And then it was kind of, at the first one, it was a little defeating. Like, oh, I have to walk? And then by the end, I got used to it. I took in the scenery and, yeah, I was talking to others by the end. So, yeah, I can see, I can definitely relate to that. 

Anita:

Yeah, I have a friend here. She wants to do a 34 mile for her birthday in December. And she has never run a marathon yet. But, she has run fantastic half marathons and her training runs have been up to 20 and 22 miles I think. And she’s fast. I would like to say that she’s faster than me on the roads. She’s a strong runner. And she has, she still needs to make the transition that when you trail run, you don’t have to run the entire time. You can, if you’re awesome. Super awesome and you run up that, sprint up that hill. Go for it. But, it’s ok to just change pace. So, she keeps on telling me, “No, I’m not ready.” Yeah, you’re ready. You’re so ready for a 50k or even for your 34 miles. You’re so ready. She will be. But, I’m going to have a hard time keeping up with her!

Shayla:

Well, yeah, if she has already progressed to 22 miles. Yeah. 

Anita:

She’ll be awesome! But she has that mental blockage of, no, I can’t run 34 miles. That’s too far. No, it’s not too far. You’ll be fine. 

Shayla:

Yeah, she’ll be fine. That’s one of my favorite things in, you know, when you have this mental block that’s holding you back but you finally push through it and you just do the thing. And when you get through the thing, you’re like, oh, yeah, I guess I was ready. I guess I can do that. No, I can do more than that! Yeah, that’s one of my favorite things. 

Well, I hope she ends up running it with you. 

Anita:

I hope so too. Well, they kind of say that you’re usually able to run at least twice as far as you’ve been training for. So, she’ll be fine. 

Shayla:

Yeah, she’ll be fine. 

Anita:

And, have you noticed that, well, on your trail run that people were smiling more than on road races? 

Shayla:

Oh yeah, absolutely. They were chit chatting and, in the end, it was just such a communal feeling. Everyone is standing around chatting and, yeah, it was really cool. I could definitely see myself getting more into trail running. When I run by myself, we live out in the country on a gravel road, so it’s ya know, technically a trail if you will but not anything similar to an actual trail run. Yeah, I definitely loved the vibe. I can see the appeal for sure. 

Anita:

And then there’s all different versions of trail running. We have wide packed soil paths that are wonderful to run and then we have this loose gravel and steep decline. So, inclines were, you gotta scramble for every foot that it doesn’t slip. So, there’s all different degrees in between. So, you can find your favorite trail. It’s awesome. Or just have them all in one run. 

Shayla:

There ya go! So, as a mom of two young girls, how have you been able to find the time to train for ultramarathons?

Anita:

Well, you just have to make time. So, every day when I, and I’ve been doing this for a while now. Every day, I make a non negotiable list and there are two or three things on them usually that I have to do before midnight of the day and that’s of course every day besides the kids and the household and work and everything. That’s on top of that. Well, it could be that I have to fold the laundry and then I have to do it when it’s on the list. 

Shayla:

I think that’s always a negotiable! I just wanted to throw that in there. 

Anita:

That’s non-negotiable. Yeah, but sometimes I have to do it then so that’s a non negotiable. And then another one is always running related. Sometimes, all three, I usually have no more than three because that’s not realistic for me at least. Sometimes they’re all running related. Sometimes only one of them is. I will do it. Right now the kids are in school so I have to run before I get them ready for school in the morning. That means I have to get up at 4:30 and I go out in the pitch blackness outside with my headlight. Thankfully I have a buddy that will run with me at that time. And then we go for a run. Then I come back, quick shower and then I get the kids ready for school. And then my day starts. Or on weekends, I will start super early and then my husband, he will take care of them until noon. So, my only goal on that day is get as much mileage in as I can. I just have to be back by noon because then my husband has volleyball. He’s a volleyball player. That’s how I’ve been trying to do it. 

Shayla:

I love that idea of a non negotiable list. I myself and I hear a lot of moms kind of put their priorities on the back burner when things get a little heavy as far as priority lists. So, that’s an awesome idea. I love that. 

Anita:

Because if I don’t do that. If I don’t have that list, or those three items that I must do, I won’t do them. Whatever is not on my list, it’s like, well I should be doing this, but then I’m like, well sorry, it’s not on my list so I’m not gonna struggle for it. So, for me, it’s not a matter of if I run or do something running related. It could be a recovery day or I have to stretch. God, I hate stretching. But, anyways, so it’s just a matter of when. Not if. 

Shayla:

Yeah, that’s fantastic. So, do you face any ongoing challenges with balancing your running schedule and being a mom even with that non negotiable list?

Anita:

Well, I’d be lying if I say I don’t struggle. I mean, it’s not my most favorite thing to get up at 4:30 dark or earlier sometimes. But, it’s just, I had three, I just recently ran those two ultras so it’s like, well, if I want to survive those, I better get my butt up. I just gotta do it. It helps that my husband is supportive of my running. He always says, if the wife is happy, my life is happy. 

Shayla:

It’s so true!

Anita:

So that helps! And on weekends when I do my long runs and I miss the window of leaving the house before the kids get up, then I have to change my plans. And a lot of times I have to take the kids in the stroller. Because they’re like, “No mom! You can’t go without us.”

Shayla:

They’ve gotten a flavor of the running life. They don’t want to be left out!

Anita:

Yeah, just the other weekend, they were like, “Mom, where are you going?” I tried to sneak out but the little one was up. She was like, “Mom, where are you going?” I was like, “Well, I’m going running.” She was like, “Noooo.” I was like, “But, why not?” She was like, “I want to go too.” I was like, “Oh, ok. Well, then I guess let’s get you ready.” 

And then two hours later we were ready to go. So. Not the run that I had planned but it was still wonderful. She was so happy. 

Shayla:

You’re known for being a stroller runner. Could you share maybe a bit about that transition from running alone to running with your girls because it had to have been kind of a big transition. Maybe could us through that a bit. 

Anita:

Well, yes and no. It was a big change I guess. Well, the stroller running is a whole different beast from running solo. But then on the other hand, it’s just running too. Well, running with extra resistance I guess. But well my attitude had to change. I could not be like, oh, well, my regular pace is 8-minute mile pace and now all of the sudden I’m running a 10:30 because I’m pushing the stroller. So, I just had to get into a different mindset in terms of pace. I actually have stroller PRs now for certain distances. Then I had double stroller PRs. For example, for a half marathon, I had a solo PR, personal record, and then I had a single stroller personal best and then a double stroller personal best. Yeah, because you can’t compare it. Well, I couldn’t compare mine at least. And then in terms of picking my running route, with the stroller, it’s obviously, I was avoiding stairs. I was avoiding too bumpy of routes. I was avoiding crossing streams and too muddy of sections. So, it’s just a little difference in terms of pace and how I pick my route I guess.

Shayla:

Are your girls pretty good at going along for the ride with you? 

Anita:

Yes, but they didn’t really have a choice! So, I mean, I ran through both of my pregnancies. I don’t know if they were used to the movement in the belly and then it just transferred when being in the stroller. If they just enjoyed me being there with them. Not sure, but they are pretty good. 

Shayla:

What’s the longest mileage that you’ve gone with the stroller?

Anita:

I think the longest was a 30k, so that’s like 18 miles. 

Shayla:

Wow, yeah, that’s a long haul. 

Anita:

Yeah! And that was with the double stroller too. 

Shayla:

Holy cow. I guess maybe I’m now giving my children enough credit but I don’t see them sitting along for the ride for 18 miles. That’s amazing.

Anita:

Well, in Hawaii, the race that was in Hawaii. The race started super early so they were sleeping most of it I guess because it was dark. The race started at 5 in the morning. Yeah. So, the biggest struggle was to be ready to run at the right time. Once I was rolling or once we were rolling, it was all good. All I had to do was push and run. But, to get everyone there and to get situated and ready to go, that was. Phew, challenging. 

Shayla:

Yeah, it’s hard enough some days to get my kids to get their shoes and jackets on and just get in the car to go to school!

Anita:

Right?! Well, they were little so I just, you know, made them. I just did it for them. I’m not sure that would work now. I don’t know. 

Shayla:

Well, I bet they, for the races they’ve been in, ya know, when they were old enough to recognize what’s going on, I bet they felt pretty special being able to participate in the races with you. 

Anita:

Oh, I just asked my oldest one, the six year old, and she said, “Oh yeah. I liked being on the podium.” I was like, “You remember that?” Because, some of the races, they had a stroller category and when I was with her, I won it a couple of times. So, we were on the podium. Or, another time, we were on the podium and it was actually just my age group on a smaller race and she was like, “Oh, I liked that. Everybody was looking and clapping.” I was like, “Oh, look at you girl!”

Shayla:

More of that attention, please!

Anita:

And then she said, “Oh, it’s so much fun to pass people when you run, mommy!”

Shayla:

Go faster! Go faster! Right?! I could imagine it could be good motivation to have your girls yelling at you to go faster. 

Anita:

The strollers, they had to start in the very back behind the walkers and it was very frustrating because the people would wear headphones and they don’t hear me. So, it’s like, “Coming through. Coming through. Sorry. Sorry. Coming on your left. Passing on your left.” Yeah, nobody would hear me. Luckily, I haven’t ran over anybody but there were some very very close calls and a lot of dirty looks sometimes. They don’t hear me coming with their headphones, right? And then had to work my way up to my pace. So, that was a little frustrating. And then also with the double stroller because, that thing, I don’t have a handbrake. That thing, when it’s rolling, it’s rolling. If I want to break, I need to use my whole body weight to break it! 

Shayla:

Yeah, you could really take someone out with that thing in the wrong situation!

Anita:

But, it was all good. That’s how, when I started my Facebook page for my own accountability when I run with the stroller and that’s why I call it stroller ninja. My friends were like, “Oh, you sneak up all the way from behind like a ninja with your stroller!” I was like, “Well, yeah, I’m stroller ninja now I guess.”

Shayla:

I love that! Well, do you have any tips for success with stroller running for moms who, you know, may be interested in giving it a try but might also be afraid to give it a try?

Anita:

My main advice would probably be, just to be open to run one mile at a time. Every mile that you accomplish is an achievement with the stroller. Just keeping persistent. Just keep trying and don’t give up. Eventually, the kids, if they don’t like it in the beginning, they will learn to like it. And, of course, you can help it. You can invite another mom. Like, monkey see, monkey do. If the other kid is behaving, maybe your kid will behave too. And then the mom has company with the other mom. 

Then, I always try to combine a positive experience or like a little adventure with the run. So, we would start where there is a playground, so we would finish at the playground. Or back in Hawaii, I always ran at this park. It was gorgeous. It had a smooth and paved road with a lot of hills. It was just a five mile out and back and when we finished, we would go to this little pond, feed fish, look at the ducks. So, she would always associate, oh, we’re running here, that’s going to be so much fun. Look at the fish after. So, she would be good because she knew, afterwards, she gets to go out. Then, when they were older and even now, they come with me and then they can run the last half mile with me. They can race me. 

Shayla:

Oh nice! And you still have to push the stroller! 

Anita:

Yeah, and I have to push the stroller! And my daughter, she’s fast! She can run a 7:30 minute mile pace now. It’s like, phew, I have a hard time keeping up already. And then, gotta bring entertainment and snacks. Lots of snacks. I even have special snack that are only for the stroller. My kids don’t really eat a lot of cookies and chips. But, in the stroller, they get to have chips. So, they’re like, “Oh, we get to go in the stroller. We get to have chips! And cookies!” And I’m like, “Yeah, only if you’re good!” And then of course I portion it. I try to make sure that I’ve got some mileage in first and then they get it so I can, you know, keep them quiet longer. Entertainment, books, toys, anything. When we do a route, I point out, “Look, up there, there’s birds flying and look at the shape of those clouds.” Then, we will take a quick stop and look at a cool flower or something that might be interesting for them. They like it. Well, they seem to like it. 

Gotta bring essentials of course like, when they were smaller, diapers, wipes, everything essential. Because, if you don’t bring it, you will need it. 

Shayla:

There will definitely be a blowout I’m sure. As always, when you don’t have the essentials. 

Anita:

When they were small, I would always have to attach the toys with like a little clip or like a little string because, um, there were several times when I noticed a toy was missing when I was almost done with the run. I was like, well, where did it go overboard? Then, I’d have to backtrack and then one time I had to backtrack all the way. So, I ran twice as far. 

Shayla:

Oh my gosh. That’s a great tip right there. I mean, they’re all great tips but, just thinking, of when I take, my kids are too old now, but when I would take them out on just stroller walks, it would become a game for them. Oh, I want to throw this toy over and now you have to pick it up. Yeah, if it’s attached with a string, that totally eliminates that game right there. You’re a smart lady!

Anita:

Well, when something went overboard three times, or it was on purpose, like what you said when they were throwing it, well, sorry now it’s gone. Can’t have it back now!

Shayla:

Are there any struggles that you’ve encountered with stroller running?

Anita:

Yeah, getting out of the door is a challenge! Yeah, just to get the kids ready. To get the stroller loaded. Everything takes longer. Even the runs take longer because gotta look at this flower. Gotta look over there. Gotta do a potty stop. Gotta, oh and mommy, I want this. I want that. I need this. Yeah, everything takes longer. I guess I trained them well. Now that they’re so motivated when they get to go on the run with me in the stroller that, well, I have to go. So, struggles, yes or no, I just have to go because they are so happy to do it. 

Shayla:

As you are talking through all of these tips and the struggles, one thing came to mind. Another mom runner that I talked to, oh it has been a year ago or so now, but she said, she made a really wise comment that, as a mom, you just kind of have to recognize that you have different running lives. You have one when you’re pregnant. You have one when they’re babies, toddlers, and so on. And, yeah, it’s great that you recognized that and you adapted and continued with your passion for running, even through the struggles of stroller running and the toddler years and all of that stuff. 

Anita:

That’s why I have different PRs –single stroller, double stroller and no stroller. 

Shayla:

So, what lessons do you think your kids are learning from seeing you maintain a running schedule and making that time for self-care, with the stroller or without it?

Anita:

Well, I hope they learn that fitness can be fun, especially when it’s with mom. I hope they are seeing that, if you stick with something and you just see it through, and you set your mind on it, you can just accomplish anything. Because, they see me putting up medal after medal on my boards and they look at them all of the time. They play with them. I know they associated now, oh, mommy running early on the morning, mommy running on the weekends, that is associated with that. Me, putting up the medal. So, just that, if you stick with it, stick with your goal and you don’t quit, you can accomplish what you want. I hope that’s what they’re learning from it. 

Shayla:

Yeah, that’s fantastic. So, I know that being involved in the running community is important to you. Maybe share with us how you’ve gone about building up communities around you in the places you’ve lived. 

Anita:

I never really actually joined a running group just to join a running group. It always just happened. I met an awesome person. I ran with the awesome person. That interconnected with another person and then through these relationships, I ended up being surrounded by other awesome people that were part of different running groups. That’s why, for example, in Hawaii, there was the group called Runner’s High. They were in the little area that I lived. It ended up being like a family. It was really nice. On Tuesday evenings, we would go on a run, they would always have the same route at the same time. It was really nice. 

Then, through those people, I met other running people and eventually I ended up in the Red, White and Blue group which is more for the veterans. They try to be involved in the lives of veterans. Trying to make them part of a more active lifestyle and just have positive people around them. So, I ended up running with them. Doing a flag run with them for example. Carrying the flag. Doing hikes with them. It was all about integrating people into the group. Motivating them and making sure everyone is involved. Everybody would adjust to each other. There was no such thing, oh, you can only be in this group when you run at this and this pace. There was no such thing. Everybody was always helping each other. When I was running with my single stroller, sadly I didn’t know about them. But, when I had both girls, I came across the Stroller Warriors. Well, I was doing a run, late night, and I saw this group. They had strollers. So, of course, I had to go and ask, “What are you guys doing? Why are you here.” They were like, “Well, we are running here. Every Monday at 7 we run here.” I was like, “Oh, really? Can I come?” They were like, “Yeah, just look up Stroller Warriors on Facebook.”

And, of course, I forgot about it. Then eventually I remembered because I saw somebody running with a stroller and so I looked them up. Then it took a little while longer until I was like, you know what, I’m just gonna go. And I went and there was this mass of moms with strollers and the kids and they would all run. All different paces from walking to how I learned later to people that would win the race. Like, they would be so fast. It was just so amazing. The support that they had for each other was just mind blowing. They would just support each other and the community that they would build was amazing. 

Now that I’m here in Germany, I’ve found Stroller Warriors of course. So, they’re a military spouse running club that have chapters at every major military base or major military installation. They are overseas. They are all over the U.S. They had three in Hawaii. They had one in Pearl Harbor. One in Scofield barracks and they had one in Marine Corp base. So, I went to all of them because I was right in the middle and it was awesome. Yeah, it was great. 

Then, the one lady from Pearl Harbor, when she moved away, she moved to a location where there were no Stroller Warriors. So, what she did, she created a virtual chapter. She called it the Stroller Warriors elsewhere. Now all of us that don’t have a physical chapter, we’re all part of the Stroller Warriors elsewhere. And that’s how I found Stroller Warriors here. So, I arrived in Germany. I went on Facebook and I was like, “Heey yeah, I’m in Stuttgart now, yay!” And then right away, this lady contacted me was like, “I’m in Stuttgart, finally! Finally somebody is here!” I met with here right away and we’ve been running buddies ever since. And then another one came. She came just right after I arrived and those two, they became my most favorite running buddies here. 

Shayla:

That’s amazing!

Anita:

It was awesome. Sadly, they just moved away this summer. 

Shayla:

Oh no!

Anita:

Ugh, I know. And then, for example, that group, we would do meal trains for each other. So, when one lady was pregnant, and they got the baby. You know how it’s kind of hard to take care of everything because you have a new baby. And most of them have already small kids. So, what they would do, like, the moms would make a list and for every day, somebody else would bring food for the whole family. It was like, I had never heard of this before and I think it’s the most wonderful thing to do ever for somebody who just gave birth. 

Shayla:

Yes, that’s amazing! 

Anita:

So, for the first month, that mom didn’t have to worry about cooking at all because, every day, somebody would bring food for the whole family. 

Shayla:

That just makes me want to cry. That’s so amazing. 

Anita:

And then, even here, we have a running group here too. It’s called She Runs this Town. It used to be called Moms Run this Town. And they did the same thing. A lady had twins and somebody started a meal train for them. My husband, every time he hears that, that I’m cooking for a new mom, he’s like, “Wow, this is just awesome!” Thankfully, I was on the benefitting end of that too. When I had my second baby, there were some people coming and cooking. Not that, to that extent, I didn’t have an official meal train but people would come and help me because I didn’t have family in Hawaii. It’s wonderful. 

Shayla:

That has been one of my favorite things of becoming more and more involved in running communities is just the support and the encouragement. I mean, there’s no better community than the running community in my opinion. Just amazing people and I feel so lucky to have found communities of runners because it’s so hard in, especially the early motherhood days, of just feeling so disconnected that, being able to reconnect with people who are going through the same things as you but that are also people who enjoying giving to others and who enjoy encouraging others, it’s just such a god send in these difficult years. 

Anita:

Yes, most definitely. 

Shayla:

So, talking about staying connected with your community, obviously COVID has thrown a wrench into that for a lot of people. I don’t know if it did for you as well, but how did you stay connected with your community of other runner moms and other runners through this pandemic?

Anita:

Well, here in Germany in the beginning, when it all started in March or April, we were not even allowed to meet with more than one person in public. So, thankfully, I had my faithful running friend. So, every Saturday I would still meet with a distance between and we would still go running. But, all of the races got cancelled, so we were like, hmm. So, we made it a goal to at least run a half marathon every Saturday. That half marathon turned into longer because then I found a 24-hour challenge to run a 50k over the 24 hours. So, every four hours, you would run, so in the end, you would have 30 miles. And I put on my Facebook, “Hey, I want to do this thing. Who wants to do it with me?” And then there were so many people. Like, I think I had a response of 30 people that wanted to run with me. They all happened to be Stroller Warriors that I had met in Hawaii. Some of course were here and then some of those had other friends. So, we had this huge group that ended up doing this crazy challenge virtually together.

We all did it on Mother’s Day. So, we would do a video chat at the start of the four hours. Like, hey, are you guys ready?! Some had it pitch black outside. Some had it raining. Some had it early morning because of all of the different times. We had time zones all the way from Hawaii to me in Germany. Everything in between was represented. It was really awesome. Yeah, and then we would collect the pictures. Everybody would post the pictures. It wasn’t how long we took. Some took 40 minutes. Some took an hour and change but it didn’t matter. Everybody in the end finished it. Yeah, so, the local military newspaper even wrote about it. It was just so cool. It was really cool. I told them to make the finish line, when we finished the 30 miles, to make it special. So, we had, a lot of them had a toilet paper finish line that the kids were holding. It was spectacular. 

A few of those, even did a 50 miler with me just recently. Just last month. Same thing. They got up at the same time. We did the phone call and said, “Hey are you ready to run your 8 miles?” And we did that six times. And then we finished 50 miles. Right now, I said like, well, I’m going to stop at the 50 miles. I’m not going to do the 100 miles. And then of course, I found myself, well, how can I get to 100 miles? How can I time it that I can still make it without wearing myself out too much? So, I think we’re gonna do that in December. 

Shayla:

Just progress over the months until the pandemic is over. 

Anita:

Right?! So, what’s another couple of miles, right?!

Shayla:

Or double!

Anita:

Yeah, so, this virtual connection that I know that, I know they ran at the same time, it was just so cool. It was very fulfilling. It made me so happy. 

Shayla:

And it’s such a great way to bring something positive to fruition through a challenging time and to stay connected with others. That’s really awesome. 

Anita:

Even my friend who moved away this summer, she said, “Oh, I don’t have to get up now early on Saturday mornings because, well, you’re not here.” But she got up early for me that day when I did the 50 mile challenge. Yep, she came! She only ran one leg with me but she was there. It was awesome. 

Shayla:

Aw, yeah, that’s really cool. 

Anita:

That made me really happy. 

Shayla:

Motherhood really brings a lot of demands and many moms kind of set their friendships aside during these early motherhood years. Do you have any tips for moms who may be listening that may feel kind of disconnected from others currently but who want to connect with other runners and rebuild friendships?

Anita:

I would say just, if there’s another mom that you know, chances are very high that they feel the same way. They feel just as disconnected. So, if you just go and say, “Hey, wanna run with me? Or go for a walk with me?” I mean, I’m pretty sure they’re going to say yes. When I was lucky to have that one lady just welcome me with open arms like, “Yes, Anita, come run with me!” But I also did the same thing to the mom who arrived shortly after me. I knocked on her hotel room and I was like, “Hey, I’m going running now, want to join me?” And she came! Yeah, she came! She was like, “Ok!”

Another mom arrived a year later and she was like, “Oh yeah, I have two kids.” And I was like, “Well, I have a double stroller if you want to borrow it. And I’ll pick you up too. I got a big van.”

Just ask. Just approach one person. One person, that’s all you need. And then from that probably more will follow, but most likely that person will say yes. 

Shayla:

Yeah, that’s a great tip. So, kind of turning back to you as a runner, what are your running goals for the future?

Anita:

One goal that I have is I want to run all six major marathons. Because there’s six majors. There’s Chicago, Berlin, New York Marathon, Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon and London. So, out of those, I have ran Chicago and Berlin marathons and, well, technically, I qualified for Boston Marathon. Now to run it is a different story, especially with the whole COVID-19 pandemic. With all of the major marathons being cancelled and postponed and it’s going to be a while but eventually I’m going to run all six. Why? I’m not sure just because they’re the six majors and you get a special medal after. I don’t know. 

Shayla:

And it’s an amazing goal and you get to go to amazing places.

Anita:

Right?! And that will be the next one. Interesting destinations. I want to run all of the interesting destinations. And that’s why, like we talked about earlier, I often have combined the family trip with a running or triathlon event. That’s how we went to Athens for the marathon. We did a family trip to Switzerland and we ran through, it was called the three country half marathon. So, we would run, in one half marathon, we would run through Switzerland, France and Germany. It was pretty cool. It was pretty fun. I mean, the route itself was maybe not that spectacular just to see the signs: Welcome to Switzerland; Welcome to Germany; and then Welcome to France. It was pretty cool. 

Shayla:

Yeah. That’s really cool!

Anita:

I did the races in Puerto Rico. A whole bunch in Hawaii. Oh, last year I did a triathlon in Bahrain just because, my friend said, “Oh, I’m doing a triathlon in Bahrain. You want to come?” I said, “Tell me about it.” So, he told me about it and I was like, “Oh, that sounds really interesting.” Because, I was, after the second baby, I was kind of over the triathlons. So, I was like, eh, I’m all triathloned out for now.  And then he was telling me about this triathlon and this triathlon and I was like, eh, eh, eh. And then he said, “Oh, I just did Bahrain and it was like this.” I was like, “Oh, tell me more!” And then I just went. I don’t know why, but it was awesome. It was cool but the kids didn’t come just for logistic reasons. I’ve ran in the Austrian Alps, the Swiss Alps since we’ve been here and, yeah, it has been quite a trip. 

My wish list is really long. I want to run, there’s a trail run in Machu Pichu. 

Shayla:

I would go to Machu Pichu for a trail run!

Anita:

Right?! Then, they have a marathon on the Great Wall of China. I mean, come on!

Shayla:

Ohhh, yeah. Oh, that would be incredible. 

Anita:

I just signed up for a sky race next year in Scotland where you’re like high up in the Scottish Highlands and the videos are just amazing. I want to sign up for one, the registration isn’t open yet. That’s what I do in my free time at night when the house is quiet. I look, where can I run. There’s a race in Norway. Oh my god, it just looks breathtaking to run there up in the skies too. Right now my thing is high. I don’t know why. 

Shayla:

So you can touch the clouds. 

Anita:

Kind of, or be in the clouds! Before we leave Germany, I want to run on the Portuguese island of Madeira, there’s an ultra-marathon from the most western point to the most eastern point just crossing the whole island and, yeah, I need to run that. I don’t know why, but it just looks awesome and I must do it. 

Shayla:

Well, I think you should be sure to document each of these journeys so I just follow closely behind and take your travel tips and your running tips. These are some amazing goals. It’s just, you know, looking back as you shared your story of, you know, just as a youth from having to run in school because, you know, kind of cancelling out the other sports that running was kind of all that was left and you kept running because of asthma and then just to hear how your journey as a runner has shifted and evolved and progressed through the years. And just your goals for the future. It gets me personally excited and it’s just really cool. 

As we are wrapping our conversation, looking back, you know, as your journey as a mother and also as a runner, is there a main takeaway from your experiences that you’d like to leave with the Runner Moms community?

Anita:

One of the main takeaways would be that, when you become a mom, you don’t have to choose between running or family. You can do it both. You can involve the family into your running or do the running with the family. And then, there’s no expiration date for achieving the goals and dreams. I mean, I qualified for the Boston Marathon after I had both babies. Not before. It took me until after. So, I mean, I got faster after the second baby. Being the mom, well the running mom, doesn’t mean you have to give up what you do. You can still achieve your goal. And you can involved your family. Because it’s the whole journey that’s important, not necessarily the pace that you run at the end. It’s the whole journey as a whole. Everything else will fall into place. 

Shayla:

That’s a great takeaway. I really love that. For anyone who would like to connect with you online, where should they go?

Anita:

That’s a good question! My husband been trying to make me a website forever because I’m not the most comfortable putting myself out there and bragging about what I do. He hasn’t gotten very far with it yet! But I do have Instagram where I basically, more for myself, document what it is that I do and if it’s just so that I can show my kids later, “Hey look, we did all of this together!”

That’s why I put my @strollerninja on Instagram. But I didn’t start that until I was already running with the double stroller. That wasn’t until, well, until the baby was almost a year, I guess. The second baby. 

Shayla:

And I’ll be sure to link to that Instagram account in the show notes for anyone who would like to connect with you online and, in the meantime, yeah, your husband should just take the reins and start that website for you! Put a Go Pro on your head for the next destination run and post those videos because that would be amazing! 

Well, thank you again for joining me today on the show, Anita. I really enjoyed our conversation. There’s just so much great stuff in here from tips for connecting with communities of Runner Moms to tips for running through the early toddler years and early childhood years with strollers. I know that the Runner Moms community is gonna get a lot of great stuff out of our conversation. So, I appreciate you for being here!

Anita:

Well, thank you so much for having me. It was wonderful. 

Shayla:

I hope you took away as much goodness from today’s episode as I did. As moms, the reality of making time for our own needs often means that we have to get creative with our schedules. Sometimes it’s waking up early before the rest of the family. Other times, it means putting the kids in the stroller and taking them along for the day’s running miles. We should also applaud ourselves as a community of Runner Moms for including our goals within household schedules that are already packed to the brim. And also for finding ways to get the most out of the small chunks of free time that are available to us for making progress on those goals. 

So, awesome job, momma! Keep making time for yourself and keep crushing those goals. That’s all for today’s episode. Until next time, happy running and happy momming!

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