Five kids, exercise program keep mom on the run


Fitness / Setting goals

She may not have a lot of experience with marathons, but Missy Swarts is determined to make it happen this June.

Since the birth of her triplets three years ago, Missy took up running as a mental break from her responsibilities as a busy mom. As her distance began to increase, it was logical that she set some new goals. So, for the past four months, she has been focused on Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth.

Four years ago, Missy had no idea how her life was about to change. With two daughters and the addition of one more baby on the way, she didn’t have much time for exercise. After learning she was carrying triplets, she continued a walking regimen but was limited in activities for the last couple months of pregnancy.


"After their cesarean birth, it was like starting over physically," she said. "I had no endurance, and had lost all my strength in my muscles from months of inactivity. I couldn’t even do one sit-up."

Having gained 65 pounds during pregnancy, Missy decided to join Body One, a women’s only fitness center in Byron, and had the help of a trainer to set up a strengthening program. In the beginning, she was diligent to get her three workouts per week, which included strength training and 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. However, time management became an issue and it became increasingly difficult to get out of the house and drive from Mantorville.

Meeting a new neighbor sparked the idea of running together, and they decided to begin running in the early mornings before the family was up. No drive time involved, just walk out the front door. This turned into a habit of several times a week. Missy admits that the accountability of running with friends has been great, but she really looks forward to their "girlfriend time" where they share the frustrations and joys of parenting, and other life issues.

"It’s very therapeutic for me, and I love the feeling of just getting away for that short time," she said.

Putting fitness first in the day helps Missy to have energy and endurance for everything that needs to be done after the family is up and moving.

"If I try to tell myself I will do it during naptime, it’s a mental game," she said. "Yes, it’s tough to get up and go running outside in the dark when it is cold, but I’d still rather be outside than on a treadmill. Even though I love it, it’s still a struggle."

For anyone that says, "I could never do that," Missy's advice is to set a goal: "To just finish."

Shelly Greenfield of Rochester is a certified personal trainer. Your questions may be e-mailed to or mailed to Lifestyle, Post-Bulletin, 18 First Ave. S.E., Rochester, Minn. 55904.


Missy Swarts

Age 31

Goal: Run "Grandma's," her first marathon.

Success: Raising five children, including 3-year-old triplet boys.

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