The problems of a running mom

The absolute biggest obstacle I face when it comes to my training: sleep.

I never get a full night of sleep.  Zain will be 2 in just a couple weeks and he still does not regularly sleep through the night.  I accepted this fact for a long time because we chose not to do sleep training or let him cry it out – not that I’m opposed to it for anyone else, it’s just not for us.  We started to get some of the sleep issues under control in the Fall and Zain started to sleep through the night about 50% of the time.  Of course, when he slept through the night, I didn’t.  I was so used to waking up with him that I’d still wake up a few times throughout the night.

There’s a certain time of the night, or early morning rather, that he wakes up and if he doesn’t go back to sleep within a few minutes, he won’t go back to sleep at all.  That time – about 3:30-4am- is rough.  I couldn’t get him back to sleep at that time 2 days in a row so on Sunday and Monday, that’s when we got up for the day.  There must be some sort of scientific reason for that in his sleep cycle that he has trouble going back to sleep at that time.  All I know is that is makes for a tired and cranky toddler and mama.

Yesterday, I should have run 6 miles, but I just couldn’t get moving to do it.  I was exhausted.  I feel like I have a newborn again with the way Z has been sleeping.  Scratch that, I think he slept better as a newborn!

The lack of sleep was an obstacle for me when I trained for the Baltimore Marathon.  Actually, it started to be a problem when I trained for the MD Half Marathon.  It’s so funny to think back on that time.  I remember thinking – maybe Zain will be sleeping through the night by the day of the race.  That was May of last year and here we are today – still no sleep!

I remember reading once in a baby sleep book that only 50% of kids sleep through the night on their own before the age of 2.  Maybe the night of his birthday will be the night it begins! Wishful thinking, I know :).  I’m hoping at his 2 year check-up the doctor will have some pointers for me so we can all get some rest around here.  I am lucky that he is a good napper (crossing my fingers he stays that way for a while!).

He's lucky he's so cute

How do you deal with lack of sleep and training? Does anyone else have a child that seems to hate sleep as much as mine?

Someone tell me I’m not alone! I feel like my exhaustion becomes an excuse far more frequently than I’d like it to.  I haven’t slept through the night since before I got pregnant with Zain.  I don’t even remember what it feels like to get a full night of sleep! I often wonder if I got more sleep if I’d feel better when I run.


  1. Jodie N says

    My 6 year old still gets up about 1-2 times a week. It is getting better but I am right with you. I am always happy when I wake up in the morning and have had a full restful night. I try to put it in perspective when I don’t though, that someday they will be grown and I can sleep all I want. I also have a 10 year old so I know how quickly they grow up and sometime miss the closeness of her crawling into my bed and snuggling at night. So my advice is to make the most of the time and someday you will sleep through the night. It does make those morning training runs a little challenging at times. These are the things that make us mothers.

  2. says

    Oh man – sleep deprivation is SO HARD. Livie (my youngest) had sleep issues. She woke up every 2-3 hours until she was 13 months old and I wanted to tear my hair out! Part of it was me giving into her (she didn’t NEED anything). So around the time I started running, I started sleep training. Have you read Weissbluth? I have to say I’m a big fan, even though parts of his book are super confusing (I’m really selling it, aren’t I?) and seem harsh (I would NEVER do it with a little one). But it worked for us. It took a few days and some crying (from both of us!), but Livie learned how to go to sleep and now sleeps 12+ hours a night. The one thing I did take away from that book is that sleeping it a learned behavior. It’s not natural (even though you think it would be!) and babies/kids need to be taught. Whatever ends up working for you – I hope it’s SOON. You need a break!
    Michelle recently posted…Weekly Menu & WorkoutsMy Profile

    • says

      You are not alone. I didn’t do sleep training either and my catch is darling daughter can’t go to sleep without me cuddling her each night. I have turned it into me time with games on my iPhone but don’t think it really is the best scenario. Don’t know how to get myself out of this trap.
      {lifeasa}RunningMom recently posted…Tuesday Tunes and MoreMy Profile

      • says

        This is me exactly with my son. He just turned two, and sleeps fabulously in my bed and when cuddled to sleep, but I don’t. It’s such a hard habit to break.

        • Kristen says

          I also lay with him in bed until he falls asleep. I know a lot of people see this as a bad habit, but for now, I enjoy the cuddle time. I know there will be a day when he won’t want me to cuddle him to sleep :). Since he’s our only child right now, I feel like I can dedicate that time to him. I don’t know what it will be like in the future if we have more babies.

  3. says

    My daughter is just over 18 months old and we went through a stage where she was sleeping through the night but she doesn’t anymore. Last night she was up three (!!) times. That is not the norm though, it’s usually once. Not sleeping through and working full time is rough so when I do get a workout in I am amazed with myself. I guess that I know how working out makes me feel (awesome) so that drives me to just get out there and do it. I’ve never once said “I wish I didn’t go running.” I just put my shoes on and GO. We haven’t done sleep training either .. I am very on the fence about it. So if I don’t think I can commit fully then I just won’t. I think it’s great you are running as much as you are, so never think you are not doing enough! You deserve the credit!
    Leah recently posted…My matcha challengeMy Profile

    • Kristen says

      Thank you so much, Leah! I don’t know how you do it with lack of sleep and working full time. You should be very proud of yourself for fitting in working out too!

  4. says

    Have you thought about cutting out his nap? I don’t know how many naps he takes but sometimes if they sleep too much during the day they don’t want to sleep at night. My youngest who will be 3 in March was only about to take 1 45 min nap each day from about 8 months on, and totally dropped the nap at 2. If she fell asleep in the living room I couldn’t let her sleep more than 30 mins otherwise she wouldn’t go to bed at a good time. Even now if she goes to bed a little early all week she will be up extra early on Saturday morning. We never did “crying it out”. I have a relative who did that with her child and there is a lot of dysfunction in their relationship, even at the young age of 4. Not saying that any of you who did it have dysfunctions, but I know from what I have read and seen that it can cause issues…my opinion, don’t flame me!

    • Kristen says

      I don’t think he’s ready to drop the nap. He gets so sleepy in the middle of the day that he’ll start drifting off while eating lunch sometimes! I can understand what you’re saying about the dysfunctions as I have actually seen issues with some kids and parents who have cried it out. I don’t know if it’s because of the crying it out or something else. Zain and I have such a close relationship, I’m afraid to do anything that could damage it.

  5. says

    I had the same problem with my son who is about to be 4. At 2 years old he was still waking up at least once a night. Soon after he started sleeping through the night! Yay! It was nothing I did, but instead he just finally started sleeping through the night on his own. It will happen for your son too!

    • Kristen says

      Thanks for sharing your story, Betsy! The ironic thing is that after I posted this yesterday, Zain slept through the night last night! I’m afraid to hope it will happen again, but a girl can dream :).

  6. says

    Oh I’m feeling for you! Tough times, no question. All I can say is you have to be getting close to that time when he does make it through regularly, and then you’ll feel like a new woman. It DOES get better/easier!

  7. Scarlett says

    Does he sleep with you? That was our solution with all three of our boys at some point. It’s not ideal at all times to have a sleeping toddler in your bed, but we’ve found that it works best for all of us in getting us the maximum amount of sleep. And in case you’re wondering, I am happy to report that my two older boys sleep in their own beds, all night, all by themselves. You will get there. My little guy is 2 1/2, and just now asking when he can sleep like the big boys in his own bed. I don’t think he is mature enough to stay in a big boy bed all night just yet, but that time is coming. I’m hoping by summer to have my bed back to just me and my husband, but for now it’s working and lack of sleep is not keeping me from getting up at 5 to run. Good luck!!!

    • Kristen says

      He slept with us for half of the night from 6 months until about 18 months. Then we got him a full size bed so that I could go snuggle with him when he woke up. That definitely helped. There were still nights where we would bring him into bed with us. I know co-sleeping isn’t for everyone, but we love it. It’s so nice to snuggle with him and then wake up to his happy babbling in the morning. I just also want to make sure he is okay with sleeping on his own. It’s also hard when he’s in bed with us because if we wake up earlier than him, we have to be so careful not to wake him.

  8. Kathleen D says

    Ugh – that is such a challenge that I hope goes away soon! It’s so hard to give advice not knowing your son personally – some kids, it’s just them, and some need the ‘push.’ We never sleep-trained either and I think we just have a horseshoe over our house because he sleeps well at night. But if he get up, we’re all up. He needs to be snuggled to sleep every night, but like you, I know it’s not forever and it’s a good bonding time, so be it – we do it.

    To address your question about running – I find when the nights are long, I run later in the day and start with a brisk mile walk with my dog. Usually that makes my legs move and I end up actually feeling better when I’m done and then I go crank out a run. It’s also a good indicator of how tired I actually am; if I can’t get through a mile walk with my dog, I know my body is just too tired to run and I don’t push it. My body knows if I need rest!

    Good luck with it – I hope 2 is the magic sleep number for you!

  9. says

    OMG. I feel like I wrote this post!! LOL. I had similar issues with my son – he was waking up 1-2x a night up until he was 9 months old. We didn’t let him cry, but I worked on sleep training with him. I nursed him on demand (still nursing and he’s just over a year now) and I believe he was used to his nighttime “snacks” – he didn’t need the nursing – he was in the 90+ percentile for height and weight…so I worked to eliminate those night wakings. It took a really long time since we didn’t want him to cry (like 3-4 weeks) but eventually we broke the habit.
    I agree with you though – sleep is SO important and there are many times when sleep wins out over exercise (which is how it should be).
    I hope things get better for you – and that you have some more time to sleep and train!
    Michele recently posted…2012 Olympic Marathon TrialsMy Profile

    • Kristen says

      That was a big problem for us too, Michele! When I was nursing at night, he’d wake up often just to nurse for a few minutes and go back to bed. It took us a while to break that habit too, but it was definitely better for all of us when we finally did.

  10. says

    I hope you’ll catch a break soon. My niece, who is 5, still has major sleeping issues. My son, though, started sleeping through the night about 8 weeks in. I think in his 3 years we’ve had less than a dozen bad nights since he first slept through the night.
    David H. recently posted…The next marathonMy Profile

  11. Jesse says

    I have a nine month old who does not sleep through the night, and I find that running helps me to deal with my fatigue! No matter how bad the night, if I get a run in the morning, I can make it through the day. I also find an afternoon workout helps to perk me up better than a nap or caffeine, and doesn’t interfere with me falling asleep at night.

    As for solutions for more sleep – sorry – don’t have any! We’re a non-CIO family as well, and I’m happy we’ve moved to one night wake-up to feed most nights.

  12. Kristine Che says

    My 21 month old does not sleep through the night either. I have tried sleep training and she just does not respond. I am exhausted but still get my workouts in regularly. I just think someday, it will feel so much better after I am rested!

  13. says

    My story is a wee bit different, but my body has just adjusted to the lack of sleep. I have a kid on a ventilator and at night time between the vent beeping, the pulse ox going off, having to get up and do night time care, suctioning, etc and my little girl (who is 3!) waking up in the middle of the night I dont get a good nights sleep. – Im just hoping it gets better soon. And well, over time it has :)
    Khourt recently posted…The shortest medical update ever (from me anyway)My Profile

  14. Kenzi says

    I just found this site and I am so happy I did!  It’s helpful to see that there are other mom’s out there with non sleepers just like me!!  We don’t really fit into the whole “sleep training” thing either (yet at least)!  I have a 7 month old girl who hates sleeping!!  She slept much better the first 2 months of life…and now it seems to get worse and worse all the time!  Her naps have gotten better in the last month, so that is nice!  But night time sleep is still a chore!  She usually wakes up every 2 hours or more.  Mostly to eat (she is large for her age at 22 pounds).  But sometimes just to snuggle.  My husband and I are very into running, biking and swimming.  I am trying hard to get back into running, but it is so hard with some of those sleepless nights!!  I used to run at least 5 miles each time, but now its hard just for me to get in fifteen minutes!!! Thanks for sharing and keeping me motivated!!

    • says

      Kenzi, I so feel your pain! Zain was such a great sleeper as newborn that I thought maybe I was lucky and I had a baby that would love to sleep. As he got older, I found out that was not the case! It’s very hard to stay active when your body isn’t getting enough rest to have the energy to workout or recover from it. I hope you get some sleep soon!

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