Interview Series / Mom Athletes

UMR’s Interview Series: Vanessa Wells

Vanessa Wells

Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Second in our interview series is to Vanessa Wells from Carlsbad, California. Vanessa is mom to Maya (age 2.5) and Sahara (age 6 weeks). She has finished 3 marathons including a tough trail marathon in New Zealand and has also run one 100k ultra race.

Vanessa Wells: Family Turkey Trot

Family Turkey Trot (5 months pregnant with number 2)

Before having children, what was your life as an athlete like? I was just getting into the world of ultra running. I’m not an overly fast runner but enjoy seeing how far I can push myself. Running has always been a part of my life, either as a training tool for other sports, a way to stay active, or as a way to push my limits.

How soon after childbirth did you start running again? 3 weeks post delivery.

How has your training progressed post-childbirth? Training is hard. My joints are still loose and hurt a little more than I was expecting. I am also way slower than I thought. I stopped running at 5 months pregnant so it feels like I’m starting over in some ways. On the plus side, my fitness does seem to be returning and each run is a little easier than the last. It’s also hard to juggle breastfeeding and running with such a little one, as my windows of opportunity are very small. We are figuring it all out as we go. 🙂

What adaptations have you had to make to your training and racing now that your child has been born? Lots of running with a stroller, planning races more carefully (in terms of location, start times, dates that work for my husband), and less overall miles logged. I am learning how to do more with less. More distance with a lower weekly mileage, by focusing on quality, not quantity.

What are your current training/racing ambitions for 2014? My big goal is a 50 mile trail race in January 2015. I have some smaller races planned, but those are in preparation for my main goal.

How do you balance your family, work, and training/racing? I have a very supportive and involved husband that knows how important running is to me and to my overall state of mind. We try to plan so we both get time to run/workout. I also have a lot of family nearby, so I am very blessed with help when I want to run. I am not currently working so that also helps. I will be working part time but still plan to schedule in all my workouts.

Has your motivation and perspective on running changed since becoming a mom? Yes. I more clearly see the value of fitness for good health as I want to stay healthy for my family. I also see how important it is for me to have something of my own to focus on, as it’s easy to get so wrapped up in family life that you forget to take care of yourself. I also see that I am a role model for my two girls and want to show them that goals can be achieved with hard work.

Would you have done anything differently while pregnant or within the first year post-childbirth? My second time around I am jumping into training much faster than with my first daughter. I struggled with being a new mom and wish I had taken the time to run more, as it helps with my state of mind. My first time around I suffered from postpartum anxiety, and should have used running as a coping mechanism, but I didn’t. As a result, I didn’t get to fully appreciate the first 6 months of Maya’s life.

What motivates you to keep training and racing, no matter the demands of parenting? Taking care of myself, maintaining my sanity, and being a good role model for my daughters keeps me motivated.

What do your children think of their athletic mom? My 2.5 year old loves to run. She sees me and wants to run, too. She is very athletic herself. Every time in pull out my running shoes, she says ” Mama goes running!” I think she already understands the value of being outside, getting exercise, and being with nature.

Daughter’s first race

Any advice you have for other new mom’s trying to balance it all, while training and competing?  It’s very hard to see how important it is to make time for yourself when you have your first child. Sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, delivery recovery, and learning how to be a parent can overwhelm you. Don’t push too hard, but make sure you prioritize exercise as it will help keep you sane during the early months. Planning well in advance helps too. Sit down with your significant other and find time in your schedules so you can get out the door, even for 30 minutes. Also, accept that running will never quite be the same. You will mostly likely be slower if you run with a stroller, and you can no longer just go running on a whim. Accept this, they grow so fast!

Vanessa’s Blog:


Interested in sharing your experience for our Athlete-Mom Interview Series? Contact Lacy at



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