If you think motherhood will slow you down as a racer, 2018 Tough Mudder Pro Team member Allison Tai will bury those beliefs in the mud. Before becoming a mom, Tai was an elite athlete and a hardcore racer. Now, she's still all that—but you'll also catch her blazing the Tough Mudder trails while strolling (yes, as in a baby stroller) with her kids or taking a mid-marathon breather to breastfeed on the sideline (she’s done both, if you’re wondering).
Not only has being a mom made Tai a better OCR athlete than she was pre-parenthood, but she insists being a mom who races inspires her entire family to follow a goal-getting, health-forward lifestyle as well.
So, if you have a love for the mud but you’re feeling wary about your ability to fit a Tough Mudder into your future as your family expands, fear not. Plenty of families find having a tribe of their own enriches and strengthens their entire racing experience, and you can have the same Mudder Mother lifestyle, too. Need more convincing? Here are five ways Tai says becoming a mom made her even better at racing:
1. Kids make training way more fun...and effective.
“I’ve physically carried my daughters (one on my back and one on my front) for three kilometers up Grouse Grind (the peak of Vancouver). Aside from my kids getting physically involved in my workout routines and training, there are studies which support the idea that physically becoming a mom can actually make you a better racer. The body changes when you have kids, and an example of this is increased iron levels in the blood. My kids physically make me stronger, along with the other challenges motherhood throws at me.”
2. Motherhood turns you into a planning pro.
“Successful racing does take planning, and becoming a mom has drilled planning into my routine. Since the family is involved, I’ll typically start packing for race day two days ahead of the event, but I always meal prep at the start of the week.”
Meal tip: Tai fills her plate with veggies and whole grains and makes swaps for herself when she’s feeding her family. She says if the kids are having burgers and veggies, she’ll ditch the bun and eat hers with some quinoa.
3. The community aspects of racing strengthen once you’re a mom.
“When I’m racing, it really takes a village. First of all, my husband really is a Superdad when it comes to taking care of the kids on the sidelines, but the kids have made plenty of friends now at Tough Mudder, too. They get to play with other kids and become part of the Tough Mudder community and it enhances the communal aspect of racing for the entire family. They love feeling accepted and like they’re part of it all.”
4. Being a mom gives you a better perspective about racing.
“Before I had kids, if I had bad race, that’s who I was and I took losses hard. After? I can cross the finish line in 10th place and the kids just are not going to care. But what they will notice is how nice I am to others on course, and of course, how I lost if I didn’t do well. My kids really care about how Mom reacts more than what place I come in, and it keeps me on my game!”
5. Your kids will inspire you to keep racing.
“One day at Grouse Grind, my older daughter wanted to walk herself up to the eighth mark. Then when she got there, she walked to the quarter mark, and then halfway. And then at 3 years old (she’s 7 now), she walked the entire thing (three kilometers) and found the desire to achieve. My husband and are in good shape to carry them out if need be, but to support her naturally on her journey is incredible. It makes me want to continue this crazy, epic, fun journey because my kids get to watch it happen.”
Dana Baardsen has been using her degree in nutrition and food science to coach nutrition at gyms and wellness centers in the New York City area and cover health and fitness since 2012. Her work has been featured on Tough Mudder, Fit Pregnancy, Class Pass, Reader's Digest, and more. She edited The Cool Girl's Guide to the FODMAP Diet and chats about weight loss topics as a guest on the "Conquer Your Mountain" podcast.