Follow These Mothers!

Kara, one of today's mothers, coming out of the swim at a triathlon waving like a crazy woman to her kids. "Yes," she says, "I think I go faster when my kids are watching."

Today's mother duo is a special one: Kara Thom, a triathlete, and Laurie Kocanda, an ultrarunner. The Minneapolis-based pair are not just fit moms; they also are leading the crusade for moms to realize how important it is to take care of themselves so they can take care of their families. (Amen to that!) The two just co-authored a book called Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life As a Fit Mom. Read about them, and then enter below to win one of five copies of their book!

Best recent run
Laurie: Running with my husband over spring break was a real treat. In addition to parenting, we are both busy with our own work and school pursuits, which makes running dates more difficult lately. Our last long run in Walt Disney World included some mystery, sleuthing, and just a teensy bit of trespassing (shhhh!). Adventurous runs remind me of being a kid and are always at the top of my list.

Kara: Easy. My family spent the last week vacationing on Lake Travis, just north of Austin, Texas. I was able to run several times with one of my dearest friends and pre-kid training partners. Scenery and weather was great, but the company was better.


Out just two days ago, Hot (Sweaty) Mamas is hot off the presses.

Bookin’ it
Kara: I hope the women who read Hot (Sweaty) Mamas feel their fitness options expand by book’s end; that having children doesn’t limit their exercise options, but in many ways expands them. When it comes to getting fit, there isn’t a finish line. Like the laundry, it will never be done (but unlike the laundry, this is a good thing). And what I’ve enjoyed most about the journey of balancing motherhood and fitness is I know I’m showing my children fitness is a family value. When we work out it really isn’t “me time” anymore, we’re setting a good example for our children.


Laurie: Motherhood is both unifying and isolating. Focus your attention on the kids and you’ll be flanked by other moms who want to discuss organic baby food, kindergarten roundup, and soccer league stats; turn your attention to fitness, however, and it can get lonely. I hope our book helps moms realize that being a “good mom” doesn’t always mean putting yourself second. Self-care is essential in realizing one’s full potential—even as a mom.

Favorite way to get sweaty
Laurie: For me, there’s nothing like getting dirty with my husband… on the trails, that is. I particularly like running when it’s hot and humid in areas where I can get a glimpse of some wildlife while out on my run. In a perfect scenario, we are out exploring new terrain where there are lots of roots, rocks, and mud puddles along they way. I always finish these runs feeling more connected and enthusiastic about life in general.

Kara: This winter it’s been on the snowshoes I got for my birthday. But in general, I have no favorites. I have exercise ADD.

It’s a stretch
Laurie: After running somewhere around 40 marathons, I’m definitely not what you’d call a limber yogi. But I do love the physical and mental challenge of yoga—it’s like stretching but wrapped in beautiful paper. My original plan was to work both strength and flexibility in the yoga studio, but after four consistent weeks I added in a more demanding strength component. What can I say? I’m a runner. Patience has never been a virtue of mine!

(Cross)Fit’ing it in
Kara: I’ve been going to CrossFit when I can. Usually just once a week when the stars are aligned, but I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. It’s the perfect mom workout: efficient. Plus, I discovered Olympic lifting gives me an endorphin high similar to running. I keep going because now I can pick up my kids and not hurt my back. I do rather love all the comments I get about my arms.


Laurie, with her girls Maggie and Cady, at the finish line of the 2009 North Face Endurance Challenge, where she ran a whopping 50 miles. She'll take on 50 again this summer.

Thought chunking
Laurie: When I’m mentally zonked and not sure I can muster a sweat, I break up my workout into chunks of time or distance and delegate mental tasks for each chunk. During a long run I dedicate each mile to a family member or friend. Swim workouts are my trip down memory lane, one lap for each year of my life. At its simplest level, I use thought chunking to triage my day and figure out what needs to get done first.

Next on race calendar
Laurie: The Minnesota Voyageur Trail Ultra on July 30. I’m psyched, but a little intimidated, too. It will be my second 50-mile trail run but on much more difficult terrain than my first. After that I’ll do my hometown favorite, the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Kara: I have several races in my sights this summer, including the Life Time Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis and the Bloomington Iron Girl Duathlon. But I’m most eager about running a local 5K at a nearby high school. Last year I was definitely the first mom across the finish line (which was my goal) but this year, I want to see if I can’t catch one or two of those high school cross country runners!

Follow these mothers at: or here on facebook.

Want to win one of five copies of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas that we're giving away? Answer this easy question: What was your best recent run?

234 responses to “Follow These Mothers!

  1. For me it was my 5K which I had to squeeze in while my landlord (he lives under us) had left I knew I would only have like 45 mins. to do so. I said I wonder if I can do it. So I jumped on my treadmill (I’m still a beginner runner have only started running since Jan.) & w/my little girl cheering me on I ran and fast & felt the awesome feeling that I have learned to love as I run.. When I stoped I had done my 5k in 36 mins! That is my fastest I’ve done it so far. It felt SUPER AWESOME.

  2. The 10 miler before my half marathon a few weeks ago- I started out in the dark then ran all over my town, including by a lake in the country with fog rising up. I also saw a deer run across the path and I felt inspired and rejuvenated. Near the end I had to rush to get home to go to a doctor’s appointment with my husband before we packed up and headed for a weekend away in beautiful Savannah, GA. I was so proud of myself for prioritizing my running and conquering my longest distance to that point so I could relax over the weekend.

  3. My best recent run was the Runnin of the Green in Denver on March 13th. Great weather, great people, great city! I love this race!

  4. Oddly enough my best recent run occurred yesterday, my 3 and 1 year old boys in the double jogger, baby #3 sleeping (or so I am assuming) safely in my tummy (we meet him/her in just a short 6 weeks!), the sun was shining and I felt light on my feet regardless of the 25lbs I have gained this pregnancy. It was an awesome 4 miles and I loved every minute of it!

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