Updated: Jul 26
It's a tale as old as time—sleepless nights, single parenting while your partner is away, and putting your own needs on the back burner to take care of your children. It's a struggle that many moms can relate to, myself included. This is a story of discovering the strength to live life to the fullest.
How Tired Mom Runs Came to Be
Why Tired Mom Runs?
Truthfully, I was so exhausted for years that I couldn't think straight. This post delves into a significant part of my journey in motherhood—a journey filled with tiredness and a constant lack of sleep. I reached a point where I was tired of life, always being there for others, and from years of sleep deprivation. Running saved my life, and this story will tell you how.
How much more sleep deprivation could one endure before reaching a breaking point?
As it turns out, a lot. This post may be my darkest, but I hope you can also see the glimmer of promise and hope at the end. Consider this your warning.
Life's burdens feel lighter when you don't sit idly, shivering in the cold summer while wearing your down jacket (yes, the middle picture was taken in June 2015 in Newfoundland)!
In 2015, I found myself utterly depleted—both physically and mentally. Every fiber of my being yearned for an escape, a way out of the whirlwind that had become my life over the past few years. I had embarked on an extraordinary journey, leaving behind my beloved Norway with my husband, venturing across four continents, and becoming a mother to three precious children.
Yet, amidst all the adventure, I had unintentionally lost touch with who I used to be. I felt like a stranger to myself, as if I were on a separate island, far away from my country, family, friends, and most importantly, far from my own essence, my Happy Place (and trust me, it wasn't a Starbucks Drive-through).
Curiously, I couldn't deny the undeniable truth—I had chosen this path. Every time an opportunity to relocate presented itself, I would eagerly exclaim, "YES!!! LET'S DO IT!" However, deep within me simmered a silent resentment, frustration directed at myself, my husband, and the life we had created.
One foggy day in Newfoundland, I found myself standing on the edge. On one side, I contemplated escaping the never-ending uphill battle, and on the other, I could continue to struggle with seemingly no energy left. In my desperation, I fantasized about jumping off the cliffs into the embrace of the North Atlantic waves.
Life seemed like a road to gloom and doom for me
Lost Dreams and New Beginnings
Why was I feeling this desperate?
I was running away from a loss that I couldn't fully grasp or process with the depth and wisdom it demanded. Instead of allowing myself to feel the weight of the sadness tied to the losses I left behind, I chose to escape from them when I made the life-altering decision to leave Norway and the world I had carefully built for myself. In doing so, I left behind dear friends whose absence I keenly felt. It was as if I had gone from being a force to reckon with to feeling diminished in my role within the world.
Before the whirlwind adventure of life with my soulmate, I had meticulously constructed my career. Armed with a master's degree in Sports Science and a fierce determination to pursue a Ph.D. and revolutionize the academic world, I was making an impact in the field of women's sports.
However, I made a radical shift, willingly stepping away from my career to become a part-time single parent, raising three young children on an isolated island off the east coast of Canada—Newfoundland. With its thick fog and gale-force winds, this challenging environment was tough for a nature-loving person like me to adapt to.
Inside, I felt a deep emptiness. I had been in survival mode for five years, and I had no idea how to change my circumstances and get out of the rut.
Finally, as I sat there on the edge of a cliff, I allowed myself to mourn the loss of my "previous" life. I have no idea how long I sat there, crying.
The thought of my little ones and my husband, Dylan, got me running away from the cliffs. I kept on running, and the longer I ran, the better I felt. Running literally saved my life.
I had to live for these monkeys, and to do that, I had to sort my life out. I had to find myself, and make room for self-care.
That day, I made a vow to help other moms find themselves, get fit, and be healthy through the joy of movement.
When Life Throws Curveballs
As if sleep deprivation and single parenting weren't enough, life decided to throw more challenges my way. From terrible sleepers to constant moves across continents, my journey was an ever-changing rollercoaster ride without the support of my extended family. I was on 24/7 duty without vacation time, sick days, or personal time. It was like a never-ending rollercoaster ride where bystanders throw unhelpful comments like "You have your hands full."
Hot tip: If you ever see a mom struggling with a cart full of groceries and three kids, at least offer to push the cart for her. Your friendly "hands full" comments are not helpful!
Moms are constantly picking up kids, carrying them on their hips while cooking supper, putting groceries away, and cleaning. Moms are strong! Be strong—like a mom.
I had grown up as an athlete, always enjoying moving my body, but having three kids within 3.5 years posed quite the challenge to stay as active as I wanted. I had fallen off the wagon, becoming over-fat and out of shape. I could barely run for 15 minutes straight.
Not to mention the painful plantar fasciitis in both feet, a reminder of my attempt to stay active while pushing a double stroller. But amidst the chaos, a spark of inspiration had ignited within me. I realized that what made me feel good was the joy of movement.
Picture this: wiping snot all day at home, the clock ticking towards 5 p.m., and all I yearned for was to collapse on the couch, utterly exhausted. But there was my PT Nick, waiting for me at the gym, and the thought of wasting money by slacking off at home spurred me into action. I must have looked like a one-legged woman, kicking myself out the door in record time. Maybe not always a cheerful one-legged woman, but determination drove me because I knew deep down that being at the gym was where I truly belonged.
For anyone out there stuck in the endless contemplation phase, let me be your cheerleader: kick yourself out that door already, and consider hiring a coach. Trust me, it works wonders!
JUMPING INTO IT - NOW OR NEVER
In 2017, I mustered up the courage to dive headfirst into my first-ever 70.3 (half) Ironman in Victoria. My sole desire was to cross that finish line and catch a glimpse of Dylan and the kids beaming with pride. Oh, the irony! Just days before the race, we encountered a car issue that threatened to keep my biggest cheerleaders away.
During the bike leg, I strained my ears, hoping to catch a hint of their voices, but they were nowhere to be found. And on the run, not a sight or sound of them either. Talk about an anticlimactic finish. Despite the lack of cheers, I celebrated finishing the race (6 hours and 12 minutes) with a mix of joy and disappointment. It was crystal clear—I had fallen head over heels for triathlons, but I couldn't shake off the bummer of my family's absence.
Hungry and a bit dejected, I decided to make my way to the transition area. And that's when it happened. As I strolled along, munching on some post-race fuel, I caught sight of a magical sight—the sight of my loved ones playing on a playground. Oh, the floodgates of my heart burst open, and tears of sheer joy cascaded down my face. They had come! Dylan explained that they had been eagerly waiting for me, but LO3 had run off to the playground, dragging the whole crew along. Just a minute after they left the finishing chute, my name was announced at the finish line. Talk about perfect timing, huh?
That moment marked my grandest victory and the ultimate slayer of self-doubt—completing the 70.3 Ironman in Victoria in 2017. I was hooked, completely and utterly, and my dreams immediately started to grow bigger. Yet, doubts started creeping in, questioning why I couldn't run a marathon.
But then it hit me—nobody climbs a mountain in one leap.
It's all about taking one step at a time, even if it means stumbling and face-planting along the way. Running a marathon, just like life, is a beautiful mess of failures, falls, and relentless determination. Failure only truly exists if you choose to stay down. And guess what? I had more SISU (that's Finnish for guts and determination) in me than I ever thought possible. There was no way I wouldn't bounce back up, ready for the next challenge.
Fueled by the energy and confidence gained from conquering that half Ironman, I scribbled down my next audacious goal—Ironman.
Enter the unexpected twist—a wild international move. Just when you think the rain won't stop pouring, a glorious rainbow emerges. Dylan landed a new job in Dubai in April 2018, and suddenly, training had to take a back seat. We had a house to sell, a move to organize, and my dreams were put on hold just like that. But by then, my resilience had multiplied by a thousand.
Deep down, I knew this was our chance for a new beginning, a chance to live together as a family once more - finally. Imagine the joy of having hubby come home every day! What a relief. Plus, the thought of immersing myself in my own projects—the coaching business, the book, my health—made my heart leap with anticipation.
There was one thing that both scared me and excited me. It would become my part-time "job," testing my mental and physical limits. And the funny thing is, every time I thought about it, it simultaneously excited and scared the living daylights out of me. It was none other than the grand, awe-inspiring Ironman.
But first, I decided to throw myself into a marathon in my hometown of Rovaniemi in Finland in the midst of moving to Dubai, jet-lagged and stressed with no training.
Ignorance is real bliss!
When you don't quite know what to expect, you meet yourself in a very brutal but real way. Can you be okay with learning who you are in the moment of physical struggle? I decided to use the Run-Walk method, running for 10 mins, then walking for 30 seconds. I felt great during the whole marathon, anticipating a bonk (an absolute lack of energy) after 30K. However, since I had saved my legs with the walk breaks, there was no bonk, and my last 10K was the fastest, and I felt like I could keep going! I finished 4:18, super empowered and proud of myself. Now I knew I could run a marathon.
My first marathon in Rovaniemi, Finland. 4:18 doing run-walk method!
THE DESERT DREAM
In the fall of 2018, I took on the huge challenge of completing an Ironman consisting of a 3.8K swim, 180K bike, and 42.2K marathon - all in one go as fast as possible.
Not only that, I wanted to qualify for the Ironman World Championships, held every October in beautiful Kona, Hawaii, USA, the ultimate battleground for endurance athletes. And guess what? In order to qualify as a woman, you pretty much have to win a qualifying race. Talk about fierce competition! Out of the thousands of athletes who give it their all, only the very best ladies in the age group of 40-44 made it to Kona in 2019.
My first ride at the al Qudra Cycling track. I wore a Camelbak because I didn't have enough bottle cages and I didn't know you could fill your bottle at the mosque. I still ran out of water and my mouth was full of blowing sand. Still, I couldn't wait to get back to it!
But you know what? I couldn't resist the challenge. I couldn't resist that feeling of exhilaration that comes from throwing caution to the wind and diving headfirst into the unknown. So, with a mix of anticipation and a touch of insanity, I said to myself, "Yeah, let's do it! Here we go again, jumping into the deep end without a second thought."
And you know what's coming next, right? That's right! Get ready to join me on my journey from being a tired mom to becoming Ironmom.
PS. By the way, I've created an online course for tired moms who want to find themselves again, get fit, and be healthy. You will be using the exact methods I used to turn my own life around plus much more that I have picked up along the way. No, you don't have to sign up for an Ironman! Sign up for the pre-sale list for Tired Moms Fitness Method here.