One runner in the July Missoula Marathon made her way into the Guinness Book of Records by pushing a triple stroller for 26.2 miles. Which is amazing in its own right. But Theresa Maria Pitts is a wonder in more ways than one. Not only was this her first marathon, she also has five more kids at home. Her time management skills must break records, too. So we asked her about how she gets it all in. 

I’ve always been an outdoorsy person but I didn’t really start running on a regular basis until 2013. I was in a depressive slump and was searching for a healthy way to get back on track mentally, physically, and spiritually. So I set a goal, and with a little bit of training, raced my first sprint triathlon. And absolutely loved it.

Since then I’ve enjoyed training for and racing everything from road races to obstacle races. It’s fun to mix things up with these varied races but I do love the simplicity of long-distance running, which makes up the bulk of my fitness training. And running is one of the ways I have learned to keep myself well-balanced and mentally and physically strong despite the challenges of life.

On fitting it all in …

Because of our large family and very busy schedule I was finding it difficult to get out on solo runs with any regularity. So I started bringing my children along with me. After seeing how much they loved our nature rides together I never wanted to leave them behind.

I am not competitive with others, but I am very competitive with myself. I am always trying to better myself! So I am always challenging to myself to new goals, and, yes, have been wanting to tackle the marathon for a while. But I was always pregnant, or nursing, or not in the greatest shape, etc. So I finally told myself, “No more excuses, I’m doing this.” And got to work. I stopped letting excuses and fear of failure hold me back, and started taking the necessary steps (literally) I needed in order to prepare for the marathon.

The stroller crew, looking good in their shades.

I think it’s important to know what you value most, and then prioritize your choices and your day accordingly. For me, my faith and my family take presidence over all else and help dictate my choices throughout each day. When I put what is most important first, the rest always seems to fall into its proper place.

On sticking to a training plan….

I have learned to be flexible with the electives in life. With running, I have a general plan I try to follow. But I also anticipate, even expect, interruptions. I count them as ‘bonus’ rest and recovery days if I must.

I like to train by feel rather than a rigid schedule or training plan with little or no flexibility. If I feel like pushing myself a little faster and farther, I do. If my kids really don’t feel like a run or if there are just too many activities going on, I call it a rest day.  I still incorporate important elements of a good training plan, including tempo runs, long runs, hills and speedwork, and strength training (often using my children as extra weight or resistance!)

I would say whatever your goal is, start your path in simple ways. Assess where you’re at and then do a little bit more. Just do a little bit more today than you did yesterday. Maintain balance in your life and focus on smaller, more manageable goals that move you closer to your big goals. The grandest goals are met after many small and simple steps.

On how long it takes to get out for a run ….

It does take patience and commitment to include the children on the runs because it can take up to an hour to even get out the door as I get everyone clean, dressed, and happy, drinks and snacks stocked, and ready to go on our rides together. A cute thing is that there have been a couple times when we’ve been out on a long run my 4-year old has said, “Mom, this sidewalk is really long.” That tells me it’s probably time to turn around and head home.

My little ones love to get out of the stroller and run alongside me. They’re little runners already. My older kids are saying, “Mom, we want to do a 5K with you.” They’re picking up on it.

On running solo …

I have run without a stroller before. After training with it for so long I definitely prefer to run with the stroller! To me, the only thing that makes a good run better is being able to bring my children along with me! We chat and laugh and have such an enjoyable time together! We frequently stop to play at the park (cross-training ;). Our family bonds, and it makes me strong (forgive the rhyming, it’s the way I think haha).

Mom’s eye view.

On breaking the record…

The record is neat. This was my first full marathon. I had no idea what to expect. There were so many things that could go wrong, but I chose to stay positive and focus on all that could go right. I was just going to get out there and try my very best and have fun with the adventure ahead. I looked at it as if I was simply touring the countryside with my children on a beautiful summer morning. I figured it was better than sitting at home watching YouTube videos.

On pushing a little bit more each time…

Just as we must exercise to develop muscular strength we must work to develop our mental strength. It doesn’t come for free. It takes time and effort and practice. We do this by stepping out of our comfort zone. And by doing things that stretch us, and maybe even scare us a little bit. When we’ve come to a point where we think we have reached our limit and can’t do any more, we’ve only accomplished a fraction of what we are actually capable of doing. So stretch yourself and keep. on. reaching.