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Running Moms Who Give Back

These generous runners are paying it forward in a big way.

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These generous runners are paying it forward in a big way.

Lisa Smith-Batchen

Any active mom knows that balancing motherhood and running can be a challenge. Add in professional coaching duties and trying to make the world a better place and it sounds almost impossible—but not for 54-year-old mother of two and champion ultrarunner Lisa Smith-Batchen from Driggs, Idaho.

“If I’m planning a big event or journey, I know I’ll have to sacrifice something. It’s usually sleep, but it’s definitely not missing out on time with my kids—finding balance is how you cope.”

And the journeys Smith-Batchen references are big feats, like the 584-mile Quad Badwater she completed last year (the first woman to do so). Smith-Batchen took on the heat, suffering and distance, running the Badwater 135 course four times, plus two ascents of Mt. Whitney, to raise money for her foundation, Badwater4GoodWater, in conjunction with Waterkeeper Alliance. Her goal was to bring money and awareness to the need for clean water around the world.

Related: Olympic Medalists Shares Success With Her Kids

“We were able to raise enough money to build 10 new water wells in Africa, plus make a donation to Waterkeeper Alliance—think of all the kids we helped!”

Making a difference for children is what drives Smith-Batchen. She’s passed that passion and desire to help others on to her two daughters, 11-year-old Annabella and 9-year-old Gabriella. Annabella even offered inspiration to Smith-Batchen when she was struggling with the lead-in to her recent TEDx Talk, saying, “Mommy, I don’t expect a perfect performance from you. I expect your perfect effort.”

Natasha LaBeaud Anzures

This 27-year-old has her sights set on the 2016 Olympics. But every Tuesday night, she has a different goal in mind. Anzures trains about 100 children weekly, introducing them to the sport of running. With her husband, Marco, she founded 2nd Recess in San Diego, but she hopes the program will expand beyond four current locations.

The hour-long session for ages 5 to 11 starts with a warm-up and then shifts into a fun run with games that involve running. Sometimes there’s even a guest athlete, such as Whitney Ashley, an Olympic hopeful in the discus who recently visited a 2nd Recess session.

After playing a balloon relay, it was time for Ashley to talk with the kids. Parents who had been sitting on the sidelines came closer to hear Ashley explain how long it took her to learn to throw the discus well and the difficult work involved.

After peppering Ashley with questions and enjoying some healthy snacks, the children walked away with the seed of an idea. They too could become an Olympic athlete or a musician or a scientist or whatever they dreamed of.

Related: Active Mom, Active Kids

“We work hard to include one piece that is usually missing with running programs—parental involvement,” Anzures says.  “We encourage parents to participate in practices and races with their kids and to learn the healthy tips that we discuss in every practice.”

A Canadian citizen, Anzures says she has the potential to race in three Olympic events next year: the 5,000 meters, the 10,000 meters or the marathon. She and Marco are waiting to have children, so for now she focuses on being “Coach Natasha,” nurturing her 2nd Recess kids.

Muria Nisbett

As Muria Nisbett’s 16-year-old daughter, Tinisha, entered her teenage years, the single mom saw firsthand how difficult mother-daughter talks could be. This prompted the Tampa duo to develop the Talk Bracelet, which is linked to a log for ages 12 through 18 and comes with a new charm for each year.

Today, Nisbett is working with “Shark Tank’s” Daymond John to update the Talk Bracelet with higher-quality jewelry that will endure seven years of teenage wear and to get the word out to more moms. John has been a huge help one-on-one, since Nisbett is not keen on going on TV. “They are really harsh on the show!” she says.

In addition to encouraging conversation, the program suggests activities. One of Nisbett’s favorites is running. She ran track in high school and kept it up when she was in the Army, but afterward stopped and gained some weight—which in turn led her back to the sport. Since running her first half marathon a year ago, Nisbett has been addicted to racing, signing up for 5Ks and half marathons regularly. Now that her daughter has joined ROTC, she’s running too, so a few times each month, they’ll head to the track.

Related: 7 Tips For Running Moms

“She won’t do more than a mile,” says Nisbett, who’s finishing up her master’s in social work. “She is legitimately faster than me!”

But mom wins in the endurance category. At her first half marathon, she remembers wanting to stop, but she didn’t want to set that kind of example for her daughter.

“They remember stuff  like that,” she says. “Breathing hurts, everything hurts, but I make myself do it.”