I want to put this out there at the top of this post. I love the boys to bits and would do anything for them. This includes when the eldest reverses up to me to ask me to check his pants for skid marks…whilst I’m sat down for dinner. Or when he finishes a poo and starts singing Ring of Fire, ok so that’s pretty hilarious (there’s a lot of poo chat in our house what with being surrounded by two boys and a husband). My point is anyone who says parenting is shits and giggles is lying. Ok, maybe not about the shits side of things, there’s a lot of that as I’ve already demonstrated. But let’s be honest parenting is hard work and at points hugely overwhelming.
When the boys were really small I would worry about whether they were too hot or cold, or whether they were eating enough, standard stuff really. With my second there was the added complication around the changes going on at work. I think we all go through some of this though. The big question is how do you juggle all of this, alongside all the hormones, if you’re a new mum? For each of us it’s different, for me exercise was the key.
I’ve shared my story about how I got into running but not really why I run.
Pre children I ran to be fit, but mostly to improve and I used my race times as an indication things were going well. I ran in the mornings and also with a running club once or twice a week. My 10k PB came when I was training for the Cardiff Half Marathon and I’ve never come close to that again.
Post children my reasons for running are totally different. As much as I would like to improve, and probably if I was really willing to put in the effort and time I could, just spending that same amount of time training is unrealistic for me right now. I manage to train four days a week, three early morning runs before the boys get up and one longer run on the weekends. At the moment my runs are more like plods around the same route. Plus doing most of my workouts pre breakfast isn’t really ideal for speed work or hills.
Given the limitations around the time I have to train what motivates me to run now, especially as it’s unlikely my race times are going to improve and they used to be the big driver to get out there and run?
Exercise, but running in particular for me, gives me the opportunity to have some space both physically and mentally.
When our eldest was born I was desperate to get back in shape and joined a local buggyfit group. I loved it. It was an opportunity to do something for me. Sometimes I felt guilty as he would cry, but whoever was running the group would take him and rock the buggy, which always helped (thanks Claire and Pascale). To be honest even if that didn’t work I’d be stubborn and leave him in the buggy, trying to coerce him with snacks. Fortunately the wee one enjoyed buggyfit and I rarely had the same problem. The key feeling I remember taking from doing buggyfit was that it felt so good to be outside and exercising. What buggyfit showed me was the importance of exercise and how it made me feel like me again and not just a mummy. It’s helped me find who I am and helped show me I still have that determination to push myself.
I don’t know about you but as much as I love the boys, and I am definitely not one to turn down a snuggle with them, being a parent at home on your own, especially when little ones are really small, can be overwhelming and by the end of the day it’s quite easy to feel ‘over touched’. My runs are my opportunity to own my body. For that time when I’m out there running there’s no-one demanding something from me. It’s just me.
Running’s been really important for my mental health too. It gives me a break from thinking about all the things I should be doing. It’s freedom for my mind. Sometimes I use my morning runs to focus on the day ahead, particularly if I’m busy in work. It also enables me to indulge in my favourite past time…day dreaming. I love a good day dream and being out on my own gives me a chance to let me mind wonder. I’m not thinking about whether the boys are getting on ok, are they developing as they should be, whether we need to do more with them or if playing nicely together (I’m a huge over thinker). I’m just pondering away as I run.
Obviously there are lots of ways to have some ‘me time’. I’d love to hear some of your stories.