A Week in the Life of a Working Mom Who’s Training for Her First Marathon Since Having a Baby

Real estate project manager and mom to a 16 month old shares a look at training for her first marathon after having a baby.

marathon after baby

Danielle Graham shares a peek into her life while training for her first marathon after baby. Photographs courtesy Danielle Graham.

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one Philadelphian to spend a week tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com with details.

Who I am: Danielle Graham (@dani__graham), 30, from Abington

What I do: I’m a full-time real estate project manager and part-time freelance writer. I’m also mom to 16-month-old Savannah, and I’m a marathon and ultramarathon runner. I’m the founder and co-leader of the Pennypack Trail Runners, which meets every Saturday.

What role healthy living plays in my life: Running and maintaining a healthy lifestyle has helped me gain clarity and sanity in some of the hardest times of my life. After my youngest brother died in 2008, I suffered from depression. I climbed out of the darkness when I found running, and have since turned to running and other forms of exercise to relieve stress, to help me work through difficult decisions, to build up my confidence, and to reach others in a positive way. For me, exercising (almost) daily has huge mental benefits, and the physical benefits are a nice side effect too. Now I work out because I know that it makes me a better mother, wife, and employee, on top of making me physically fit. I’m currently training for the NYC Marathon (my first postpartum 26.2) and this is my peak week! I’m hoping to break four hours for the first time and set a big personal record in NYC.

Health memberships: Run coaching services by Lift Run Perform ($125/month) and Crunch Fitness ($25/month). I have frozen my Orangetheory membership until after the marathon.


marathon after baby

For her first marathon after baby, Danielle Graham is logging lots of miles on her basement treadmill. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

5:30 a.m. — Wake-up begrudgingly after a terrible night’s sleep. I can’t even blame my 16-month-old for a bad night’s sleep, since she slept soundly through the night.

5:45 a.m. — Drink a small cup of Starbucks coffee with a little cream and sugar and eat half a banana while listening to calm music and browsing social media. I try to eat something before every morning run or workout because I tend to get nauseous if I work out on an empty stomach.

6:15 a.m. — Run four easy miles on my basement treadmill while watching The Bold Type.

7:30 a.m. — After I shower and get ready for the day, I blend up a smoothie containing whole milk, two scoops of Orgain Vanilla Bean Protein Powder, half a banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ice. Kinda tastes like pumpkin spice without the pumpkin.

marathon after baby

All of the beverages to kick-start the morning. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

7:35 a.m. — I jump in the car and head to work in New Jersey with ALL the beverages: my smoothie, water bottle, and a travel mug of coffee. My commute can be anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour, depending on the traffic.

9:30 a.m. — I’m sitting at the construction site where I currently work full-time as a contractor. Sometimes my smoothie is enough for breakfast, but lately it’s not cutting it with all the miles I’m running. I head to the cafe and order two scrambled eggs ($1.68).

11:45 a.m. — Lunchtime! Head to the cafe and throw together a “kitchen sink” salad with spinach, arugula, carrots, onion, chickpeas, mushrooms, parmesan, quinoa, almonds, and grilled chicken. Grab a raspberry-lime seltzer and eat outside in the courtyard with a friend ($9.52).

1 p.m. — Feeling the effects of my poor night’s sleep, so I refill my 40-ounce water bottle and grab another small coffee (free at client site).

4 p.m. — Peanut butter chocolate chip Larabar saves the day before I hit an afternoon slump.

5:30 p.m. — On my way home from work, I stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner and the house ($40.83).

5:45 p.m. — Get home and finally see Savannah for the first time of the day! I play with her a little bit, feed her dinner and she’s in bed by 7:30 p.m.

marathon after baby

A tasty stir-fry for dinner. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

8 p.m. — My husband Josh is also the chef of our family (#blessed). He cooks “egg roll guts” stir-fry for dinner, which my cousin recommended. It is delicious, filling, and healthy. It contains cabbage, carrots, ground pork, onions, ginger, peanuts with rice. I have a glass of Douro wine with dinner.

9 p.m. — While doing the dishes, I warm up fresh apple crisp that Josh made on Saturday night with our CSA apples. We have it with a little Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean ice cream. Treat yo’self!

9:30 p.m. — Watch some TV and stretch/foam roll before bed

10:30 p.m. — Prep my coffee for tomorrow and head up to bed, ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Daily total: $52.03


marathon after baby

An iced coffee to break up the day. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

6:45 p.m. — Wake up after snoozing past all of my running alarms. I had another night of restless sleep, so I decide to sleep in and take a well-deserved rest day. I ran 28 miles within the last three days and I can tell my body really needs it.

8 a.m. — I sip a travel mug of coffee on the way into work.

9:30 a.m. — I drink a Siggi’s Vanilla Drinkable Yogurt.

11:00 a.m. — After leading our weekly meeting, I chow down on last night’s leftover stir-fry with a lemon LaCroix from home.

11:45 a.m. — I hop in the car and cross the bridge to my office in Center City. I don’t usually work from the office since I’m at a client construction site full-time, but today I have a couple of commitments in the office.

12 p.m.  — I park and head in.

2 p.m.  — Catch up with a work friend over cold brews at Peddler Coffee (treated by my friend).

2:30 p.m. — Shoot a couple of video blogs for work.

3:30 p.m. — Starving, I eat a Banana Chocolate Chip Larabar during a meeting.

5:30 p.m. — I pick up our CSA fruit and veggie share at a local synagogue and head home.

5:45 p.m. — I get home, feed Savannah dinner and watch some TV with her before bed.

marathon after baby

Avocado pasta for dinner. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

7:15 p.m. — Cook dinner with a glass of Douro. Tonight I’m trying to use ingredients we already have so I make an avocado pasta with fresh tomatoes from our garden.

8 p.m. — Eat dinner while watching DVR’d SNL. For dessert I eat five Oreo Thins, which are a staple in my household these days.

10 p.m. — Prep coffee for tomorrow and head to bed.

Daily total: $0


marathon after baby

An afternoon walk. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

5:45 a.m. — Wake up and get dressed to run. I’m staying home with Savannah today since she’s sick and can’t go to daycare, but I still want to get in a run before she wakes up.

6 a.m. — Eat half a banana and drink a cup of coffee while browsing social media.

6:30 a.m. — Run six easy miles on the treadmill while watching The Bold Type.

7:30 a.m. — Hop off the treadmill as Josh is getting ready to leave and kiss him goodbye. I shower and make the same smoothie as Monday for recovery.

8:45 a.m. — Cook breakfast for me and Savannah — four scrambled eggs and we split a toasted English muffin with butter.

9 a.m. — Pour myself coffee number two for the day.

10:30 a.m. — Head out for a walk with Savannah and our dog, Whiskey. We get about three quarters of a mile out and Savannah starts getting cranky, so I play the Moana soundtrack on my phone and we turn around to head back.

11:30 a.m. — Put Savannah down for a nap. I throw in some laundry and then lay down myself for a bit. I’m going to have a late night at work and want to get some extra rest.

12:30 p.m. — Savannah wakes up and we have lunch. I reheat some of last night’s avocado pasta for her, and I eat the last of our egg roll stir-fry (I LOVED this dish!).

marathon after baby

A snack of protein muffins. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

2:15 p.m. — I put on a movie for Savannah so I can get a little housework done. I throw in more laundry, do all the dishes, straighten up, and make a batch of Kodiak Blueberry Lemon Protein muffins. When they’re done, I split a muffin with Savannah.

4 p.m. — Get changed and drive to work. We’ve got contractors showing up at 5 p.m. tonight.

6 p.m. — I eat an apple and a handful of almonds. Not sure what time I’ll be having dinner tonight so I brought a bunch of snacks.

7 p.m. — I make myself an Earl Grey tea with a little cream and sugar in the break room. Contemplate leaving to go get some dinner.

8:30 p.m. — I run out to Panera during break and inhale a You Pick Two: Cuban sandwich and Autumn Squash soup, with a seltzer and bag of chips ($13.19).

10:30 p.m. — Still at work. Eat an Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Larabar for dessert.

11:30 p.m. — Listen to a Wine & Crime podcast on my drive home. It’s my new fave.

12:15 a.m. — Get home and pass out from exhaustion.

Daily total: $13.19


marathon after baby

A La Colombe pick-me-up. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

7:45 a.m. — Wake up, finally a good night’s sleep this week! I’m going into work a little late today. I help Josh get Savannah ready for daycare and head upstairs to shower.

9 a.m. — Head to work with travel mug of coffee and a protein muffin for the road.

10:45 a.m. — Drink a Siggi’s Vanilla Drinkable Yogurt

11:30 a.m. — Meet a new co-worker for lunch in the cafe. I have a “kitchen sink” salad again and a raspberry lime seltzer ($7.44).

1:30 p.m. — After walking around the campus and jobsite for the last hour, I need a little boost so I drink a La Colombe Vanilla Draft Latte I purchased at the cafe ($3.73).

3 p.m. — Contractors are gone for the day, so I snap some jobsite photos and then head upstairs to do some work.

3:35 p.m. — Hungry again so I snack on some almonds and an apple.

5:45 p.m. — After sitting in tons of traffic on the way home, I stop at the grocery store to pick up milk, eggs, and a few other staples ($36.04).

6 p.m. — Get home. Play with Savannah and feed her dinner.

7:15 p.m. — I put on running clothes while Josh puts Savannah to bed.

marathon after baby

A night run on the basement treadmill while training for her first marathon after baby. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

7:30 p.m. — Run this week’s speed workout on the basement treadmill (yes, again!) because it’s violently thunderstorming outside. Tonight’s workout isn’t too bad: four miles to warm up at easy pace, 5 x 45 seconds at 7:34, with two minute recovery jogs, then cool down to eight miles.

9 p.m. — I shower really quick and run downstairs to watch the Eagles game and chow down on some of my favorite pizza that Josh picked up from Vincent’s. This one has prosciutto, arugula, fresh parm, and balsamic reduction. I pair two slices with a bottle of Pumking, my favorite fall beer, and a lemon LaCroix.

marathon after baby

Pizza for dinner. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

10:30 p.m. — Say I’m going to bed but it’s so fun watching the Eagles crush the Giants.

11:30 p.m. — Clean up the kitchen and finally head to bed with an Eagles win. Gonna regret staying up this late in the AM.

Daily total: $47.21


marathon after baby

A morning run while training for her first marathon after baby. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

5:30 a.m. — Wake up after snoozing a few times. Get dressed and head downstairs.

5:45 a.m. — Drink a small coffee and huge glass of water, and eat a blueberry protein muffin.

6:15 a.m. — Put on all my reflective and light-up running gear and head outside for an easy six-mile run. During my run, I narrowly miss stepping on a dead raccoon and almost vomit on the spot.

7:15 a.m. — Shower and get ready for work. Prep a smoothie (same ingredients as others this week), travel coffee mug, and huge water bottle for work.

9 a.m. — At work, I’m still starving! I head to the cafe and order a mushroom, onion, and cheese omelet (treated to breakfast by one of our contractors).  I eat it with ketchup because I am a child.

12:45 p.m. — Head to the cafe for lunch. My client gives away free soup on Fridays so I get a small Kombucha Squash soup and a small Veggie Chili. They are both perfect for this amazing fall weather! Raspberry-Lime seltzer to drink ($1.70).

2:45 p.m. — Really feeling the effects of the late-night Eagles game. Make a cup of coffee in the break room and prep for a conference call.

4 p.m.  — Snack on a peanut butter chocolate chip Larabar before heading out for the day.

5:15 p.m. — Get home and hang out with Savannah for a while outside, then head upstairs to get ready for dinner with Josh and some of my work friends and their husbands.

6:15 p.m. — Drive to the Elkins Park train station and catch the Regional Rail downtown.

marathon after baby

Cocktails to close out the week. Photograph courtesy Danielle Graham.

7 p.m. — Arrive at Spice Finch in Rittenhouse Square, which was recently recommended by a friend. Since Josh and I arrived early due to our train schedule, we order some pre-dinner drinks. I get the “Rest in Pete’s” which has vodka and prosecco and Josh orders a rye cocktail ($28.60).

7:30 p.m. — Our friends arrive and we head to our table. We have a long, tapas-style dinner with several small plates and one large plate for the table. I drink two glasses of Tempranillo ($120).

11:30 p.m. — Take the train back home and head straight to bed. We’re getting up early to walk the Race for Hope in the morning, a fundraiser to end brain cancer.

Daily total: $150.30

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $262.73

Miles run: 24

Cups of coffee: 11

Smoothies: 3

Larabars: 4

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