Natalie Miano and her husband Mark Batres are one tough obstacle racing family. While many know Batres on the obstacle racing circuit, his wife, Natalie is just as strong a force on course. The two balance training, their five and three-year-old children, and keeping it fun while dominating the race course.

In 2017, Miano won the Spartan Race Arizona Sprint while her husband Batres took the men’s top spot on the podium. Later in the season, she finished second behind Kristen Saad at the OSF event in Miami earlier in the week.

At home Miano balances her aspirations with the needs of her two children, Marky (5) and Nico (3). Both have Oculocutaneous Albinism which gives the boys their signature white hair that many have come to know in the obstacle racing community. Additionally, Marky her five-year-old is legally blind but as Miano says but you wouldn’t know it watching him tear up a Spartan Kids race!

Miano starts her day ahead of the boys waking up and sneaking in a run before getting the kids up, packing lunches, and sending them off to school. After dropping the kids to school, she heads off to work. The bulk of her training takes place mostly in the afternoons and evenings, when she and Batres go to their local gym. Luckily, the gym offers incredible care for the kids and both she and Batres enjoy their training together knowing the boys are only a few feet away. The two prioritize fun family time with the kids either before or after workouts to make sure they maintain balance.

Two days a week she heads to the park with her kids and gets her running in by jogging alongside Marky while he rides his bike, often pushing their 3-year-old in a jogging stroller. Sometimes, to mix things up Miano and Batres invite other kids to participate in the obstacle courses they create in the park that all can enjoy. For the two it is all about balance and creating a space for the couple to pursue goals but also keep the children a priority. With all this Miano still finds time to work out 10-12 hours a week during peak training time and shared a few tips for success for her family.

How do you make sure you have enough time to meet your goals and your family goals?

  1. At least monthly, Mark and I look at our goals and how we’re progressing with our current training schedule. In the same discussion, we look at how we’re doing as parents- are we giving the kids all the attention they need? What things did we do that seemed to impact them positively this month? Where do we need to make improvements? It’s a give or takes and most often, we are taking from the working/training/racing area to give more to family time- because that’s our priority and happiness.
  2. Get the main workout (usually my run) done early, often before the kids wake up or right when they wake up and are in “chill” mode and won’t stress about us being gone for a run!
  3. Use playtime with the kids as a workout
  4. Prioritize workouts over all other “me” time. I love being fit, and so workouts are my much needed “me” time.

Do you do anything to incorporate the kids and family into training?

Yes! Playgrounds have LOTS of opportunities for grip training, and we take advantage. Also, my older son loves to ride his bike now so we are doubling his bike ride as a workout and run next to him- usually 4 miles and we tend to hit around 8 min/mile pace. We can’t wait until both boys are riding their bikes.

Traveling to races has become “family adventure time.” My kids love traveling. They love seeing new places and identifying landmarks, buildings, food, etc. that we have studied or talked about leading up to our trip. My 5-year-old just started keeping a journal for all our family adventures. They also love playing in the dirt and doing obstacle course races, so race day is no problem for them! Marky has done over 20 1-mile Spartan Kids races!

What are 2-3 tips you can share with other parents out there looking to meet their racing goals (like qualifying or the OCRWC) in 2018 while keeping your family time balanced?

  1. Decrease duration, increase INTENSITY!!! This is my number one recommendation. Moms, or parents in general balance a ridiculously busy schedule, and may not have an opportunity to get away to get a workout in- I am incredibly fortunate to have my mom living in our house and usually able to be there when the kids wake up. We also have a gym with excellent childcare. I know plenty of moms who aren’t as fortunate and are very limited in what they can do training-wise. That’s where you take advantage of the rare or short opportunities to get a training session in and hammer it out at high intensity.
  2. Put a pull-up bar in the house somewhere where you are at with your kids throughout the day- for us, it’s in the bathroom. While the kids are bathing, we get a bunch of pull-ups in!
  3. Pick your races wisely. Organize your schedule around your “A” races and set up your block of training around those races. This is one major mistake I made last year- I jumped around from race to race and never really outlined “A” races for myself. I often found myself in great shape with no races scheduled and falling off my training when big races came up because of being burned out and feeling the need to focus on being a mom more.

For Miano and Batres, they embody the saying the family that plays together, stays together.

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