Becoming a mum and raising her now 15 month old daughter hasn’t stopped Emelie Forsberg from continuing as a full time athlete. She has been competing at the highest level in mountain running and ski mountaineering for a decade, including winning the Skyrunning World Series three times in a row.
“I’m still a full time athlete, and that has grown into the role of being a mum as well,” she says. “It felt very natural, even though finding a balance has taken time.”
Based in stunning Romsdal, Norway, she and her partner and fellow mountain athlete Kilian Jornet divide their time between raising their daughter, Maj, and training around the majestic fjords near their home.
“At the moment we are enjoying a quiet, peaceful time at home where Maj, the weather and the ‘must-do’ list framing our days,” Emelie says. “I think it’s so fun to be a mum, to see her grow and explore, both nature, the surroundings, and the social world.”
Emelie has learned some important lessons on what it takes to continue training hard, allowing plenty of time for recovery, and being an awesome mum. One lesson is perhaps the most important, she says: “You just need to listen to what your body and mind is telling you.”
Don’t copy and paste your training
Emelie says she made a few mistakes with her training after becoming a mum. The first one was trying to replicate the training she did to prepare for races prior to becoming pregnant.
“I tried to apply myself to that even though I had a five month old baby, interrupted sleep for months, and some very big weeks and days,” she says. “That was not a good idea even though at the time it felt good. I had to pay for that for about two months where I could hardly train.”
The upshot here is to acknowledge and accept your life has changed and that you will need more time and energy for your baby. Consider talking to a coach about how to create a balanced training schedule.
Allow more time for recovery
Raising a baby requires presence and energy. Without enough recovery time factored into your training, it’s easy to become sluggish and foggy, especially when managing the extra pressures of being a mum.
“Because I want enough energy to be very present with Maj this has led to some changes in my training,” Emelie says. “In general, I feel that I need to reduce activities, to have energy for things that matters, like spending time with Maj, so less long training runs, less and less ‘recovery’ runs because they still take energy.”
Plan your days
Emelie says planning and structuring her days is crucial. Her and Kilian make weekly plans, looking at all the non-training things they must do, and then deciding what training will fit in with that.
“We take turns training between 6am to 12pm or 12 to 6pm and while one of us is training the other one is responsible for Maj,” Emelie says. “Another common structure for our days is one of us does our outside training in the morning and then inside in the afternoon when Maj is taking a nap and vice versa.”
Ensure quality family time
Life can get hectic, especially for new parents managing a household and jobs. That’s why it’s important to stop everything and come together for some quality time every day.
Every morning, for example, Emelie, Kilian and Maj have breakfast together and then they take their dog Maui out for a walk. They end the day in the same way. There are many other things they do together throughout the day of course, but this ritual helps to keep them in sync.
Be creative with training
Finding ways to incorporate your baby into your training is also a good idea, Emelie says. Maybe that’s heading out for a run with the baby in a stroller. Or maybe doing some yoga with your child.
“Doing core training together is something Kilian and I do more often now because Maj thinks it’s fun that we are playing with her on the floor!” Emelie says.
Reduce the things you need to do
Before giving birth to Maj, Emelie was practicing yoga most days. Yoga gave her a lot and she is grateful for that. However, since having Maj she decided to ease off because she felt yoga would take more energy than it would return.
“I think one important thing that I changed was the idea of things that I ‘need’ to do certain things to be satisfied with my day,” Emelie says. “I have a side of me that always feels like doing a lot of things, like working outside, or having projects inside, such as writing, or creating in other ways. Now I’ve realized that I don’t have the energy to do that.
“I’m still working on finding a good balance in life at the moment.”
Running will help be a mum
“I realise now that to have a strong body and mind is also so important when you are a parent!” Emelie says. “To carry her around, to play on the ground, be on your feet almost the whole day – it’s hard work being home with an energetic one!”
All images: © Kilian Jornet
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