Tag Archives: parenting

No Running. Just Camping and Dolphins.

So recently I wrote a post called Strong Before Long. I should also have included the words Strong Before Fast. A week last Tuesday I was feeling really happy about running again and I decided to head down to the running club at the CrossFit Box I train at from time to time. It was a session that I really enjoyed: 1km, 800m, 600m, 400m and 200m. It was hard work but I love intervals, always have, it’s how most of my training was done years ago. I completed the session and I felt kind of happy with my calf.

Next morning I was not so happy. My calf felt tight but not a normal ‘done exercise’ tightness, more like a painful ‘what the feck have I done now’ tightness. It seemed to ease after a bit of walking around but it didn’t feel right. I decided to err on the side of caution and rest off for a couple of days. By the Friday I was sure I was fine so I headed out, determined I was going to aim for around 10k.

I took it slowly, making my pace nice and steady. There was a niggle down my calf and into my shin but I was sure once the blood started flowing it would ease. I stopped a couple of times to stretch and eventually things seemed to settle. But around the 5 mile mark I felt the niggle return and then a distinct ‘ouch’ pain deep in my calf. I slowed to a jog, stretched again and aimed for home. I wasn’t limping but I wasn’t happy.

Instead of getting all emotional and upset this time I was realistic. I called myself every name under the sun and realised that maybe a hard interval session on concrete (duh) probably wasn’t the best for someone coming back from injury. Instead I focussed on getting ready for my first ever camping trip with the boys. As in MY first time ever sleeping in a tent, not just my first trip with the kids.

As always when I’m packing to go somewhere I packed my running gear. This was a positive move from me despite the soreness in my calf. I had enjoyed running along the coast in Cornwall so much at Easter that I really hoped I’d be able to do the same along the Pembrokeshire coast. After we arrived and set up the tent on Monday I noticed that there were a fair few runners around and this started to give me the itch to go out running. It’s infectious, runner see’s runners and immediately wants to go for a run. The NHS should investigate this phenomenon. I waited until the following afternoon and after giving my husband a headache, debating with myself whether to go or not, I finally went.

It did not go well. I was on unfamiliar narrow country roads. Cars whizzed past really quickly. I tried to stick to the ‘face the traffic’ rule but that rule makes no difference when the roads are so twisty turny that cars can’t see you until they’re on the corner. I tried to follow a bridle path but it turned out this was the way to someone’s house. Whoops. I started to feel my calf cramp and feeling very despondent I went back to the camp site.

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But instead of bitching and moaning I decided to get on with my family holiday. It was out of my control, I just had to wait it out again, rest it and see what happened. In the meantime there were more pressing things to be done like go to the beach, cook on the camp stove, fly kites, climb cliffs and watching dolphins.

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I think I can make running a bit more of a big deal than it actually is. It means a great deal to me but I’m not running for world peace or finding a cure for cancer. It’s just running and while it’s not great for me right now there are so many other things that are. I need to ease off the intervals and the long running for now. Focus on getting myself comfortable and ready to start training for the London Marathon next April. My first ever camping holiday has reminded me that sometimes there are things that are more important and just as much fun as running. Not running isn’t always the end of the world.

Sports Day and It’s All In The Genes.

I think I am in the minority where it comes to Sports Day. Most women and mothers I know claim to hate it with a passion. I bloody love Sports Day. I loved it when I was at school (primary and secondary) and I love it now that my children are starting to do it. I think I learnt to love running and racing from a flat sprint of about 50m when I was at primary school. The other girls always towered above me but I was quick to prove that it’s always foolish to dismiss the short, scrappy kids.

I was never very good at team sports. I was ok at hockey, terrible at netball and I wasn’t fussed for football. Schools don’t seem to do a lot of running and athletics outside the annual cross country trial and a touch of token athletics in the summer. Most of my running was done outside of school. So when school sports day came round it was my time to shine, to show the rest of the school that this girl had some running in her legs. However there were many more reasons to love sports day.

An afternoon away from lessons.

An afternoon lounging on the grass with your pals while waiting for your turn.

A chance to cheer on people in your class who it turns out are actually quite good at throwing and jumping but who had never been given the chance to show it before.

I was never arty or musical and probably disctinctly average at my lessons. I never fancied getting up on stage and acting in the school plays or demonstrating my woeful dancing skills in assembly. Sports day was a day for me to get my chance to show what I was good at and I relished every moment of those afternoons because I got to do something I loved. Seriously, if I had been allowed to go for training runs during my P.E lessons or at lunch time I would have!

Luckily for me right now my boys seem to be into running and all things sports day. I had been given strict instructions though not to cheer for my eldest because ‘I might make him stop’. So with every ounce of restraint I stifled my squeals on Tuesday afternoon and watched my eldest take part in his Sports Day. My 3 year old boy also got the chance to run a toddler race. He kept on going and had to be stopped by the teacher, he was focussed on the back fence. He’s obviously got my endurance legs. He won his race and my 5 year old got three firsts and a couple of seconds. Running must be in the genes. He was thrilled, as were we but we still emphasised that it doesn’t matter where he came as long as he tried his best. At this age it shouldn’t be about being overly competitive, just the enjoyment of being outside on a beautiful summer day running around with your best pals.

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Running and Raising Boys

I’ve been reading a great deal online in the last few days about how we should speak in front of our daughters with regards to diet and health. I do feel that boys get left out of this a little bit with people forgetting that young boys spend a lot of time with their mothers and can also be influenced by what they see and hear their female role models talking about.

Little boys soon become convinced that boys are better than girls. Boys are stronger, faster, more powerful and generally superior to girls. It’s something that riles me a little bit. People say it’s a rite of passage and that all boys and girls go through this rivalry but I don’t agree that it should do unchecked. Which is probably what led to this exchange one day between my eldest son and I.

5 yo ‘J’s Dad is a really fast runner. He runs really far and he can beat loads of people’.

I happen to know J’s dad. I have discussed running many times with J’s dad. J’s dad also happens to be ex forces, in a regiment well known for physical prowess. I also happen to know the time in which J’s dad runs a marathon. My time is quicker.

Me ‘Actually I’m a faster runner than J’s dad.’

5yo ‘No you’re not because you’re a girl.’

Me ‘Yes I am. I know I’m faster. I ran a marathon faster than J’s dad’

This led on to a conversation about how far a marathon is, the time it took me to run it and comparatively how long it took J’s dad to run it. It could very well have been an educational conversation as well when you consider that we talked about what miles were and how many minutes in an hour etc. But that wasn’t the point I wanted to get home. I wanted him to understand that sometimes girls aren’t slower than boys, girls are equal to boys in many ways and that, actually, sometimes girls can be better at something than boys.

Maybe it was just be being competitive but I don’t want my boys to grow up with this patriarchal rhetoric that because you’re a boy you’re automatically better at something. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously but why shouldn’t boys see that sometimes the female role models in their lives can be just as good or even better at something than the men they know?

I want my boys to see that:

Women can be strong both mentally and physically.

Women can be powerful.

Women are to be respected for their achievements.

Women always deserve respect.

Women are equal to men.

I really hope the boys see all this in their home life, both in the relationship they see between their father and I but also in the things that they see their mother do whether it be work or exercise. Girls are obviously incredibly influenced by what their mothers say and do but so are boys. In a weird way running seems to be a way for me to show them just how strong their mother, a woman, a girl, can be.

Why complicate it?

‘Running is a simple beautiful thing that people really love to make really fucking complicated for themselves and others’.

I saw this tweet and favourited it because it’s how I feel about running of late. Books, magazines, gait analysis, body mapping, injury prediction are thrown at runners from every direction filling our heads. And as I thought about it I realised that running and parenting are in fact quite similar in this respect. People have this urge to make these two great things unbelievably complicated.

When I was expecting my first child I bought the books. I lapped up every blog post, equipment review and leaflet I could get my hands on. I was to be a new parent and I wanted to get things right. When my eldest was born and I just wasn’t sure what I should be doing I referred to the internet, searching and searching until I could find the answer that would help me in doing the best for my son. My mother used to insist that reading these books was unhelpful and that my instinct was more important for my son than any book could ever be. But I didn’t believe her. I was sure that the answers lay on medical forums and sites for new parents. Slowly but surely I discovered that a lot of the advice out there didn’t fit well with my son and I. More often than not I discovered that my way, my instinct for being a parent was best and when son number two arrived I had already given all my baby books away.

This is why I think running and parenting in it’s own way have become similar to me. Our instincts can be driven under by relentless information, not all of it relevant to your situation. You can start second guessing yourself and become too dependent on watches and programmes and PB chasing. Running is indeed a beautiful thing and sometimes it’s liberating to put the inspirational book down or put the technical magazine away and enjoy the simple joy of being a runner. Listen to yourself and what your body mind tells you. You know what’s right and you probably know instinctively when you need to seek help.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for the information out there but it’s almost become information overload with so many conflicting views and opinions that runners like me become unsure where to turn and who is right: very much like my parenting experiences. But I say less of the self doubt and second guessing, make it less complicated once in a while and run the way you want to run.

My New Running Buddy Age (Almost) 5

For ages and ages my eldest son has been asking to come running with me. I haven’t taken him because I felt he was too small and he might not manage an actual ‘run’ run. I was concerned that we’d get out and he’d complain after about 100 metres and whinge to be taken home. But on the second day of our Cornish holiday, as I was getting ready to go to the beach for a run my not quite 5 year old asked to come with me. And I said yes.

He wanted to stretch before hand ‘because that’s what runner’s do’.

20130324_152532We jogged down the road to the beach, facing the traffic, my son keeping to the inside of the road. There was no whinging, no demands to go home, no declarations of boredom and he wasn’t slow either!

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We stopped a couple of times to look at the view and for some photo opps to document the occasion. Natch.

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20130324_153902People obviously looked at us running. They probably thought I was some die hard, pushy, evil mother with her eyes on gold medals in 2024 or 2030. I wanted to stop and tell them ‘he wanted to do this. It’s all him, I tried to persuade him not to!’.

The road back to the cottage was all uphill and he did have to walk a little bit but I think that’s fair for a little boy who had just run 2km. Still though there was no whinging or complaining. This boy was tougher than I thought!

He was thrilled that he had come running with me and wrote about it in his holiday diary. For me I was proud and so happy to have shared my love of running with my child. We may not do it again. He may hate running as he gets older but for that short time in Cornwall my beloved little boy in his ‘super fast running shoes’ was my running buddy.

Big Runners, Little Runners

My 4 year old wasn’t overly enamoured by the fact his class mates were going to a minis rugby session. Despite having a father who is a massive rugby fan and being born in Wales he’s really not fussed by the game with the funny shaped ball. In fact the other night he said to me:

‘Mum, I don’t want to do rugby or football. I can ride my bike now, I can swim and I can run so I want to do the ‘Lympics’.

I wasn’t sure whether he meant as individual sports or altogether. Does he know what a triathlon is? I’m sure he doesn’t but who knows, we were avid watchers of the Olympics last summer and we watched triathlon so maybe it’s hidden away in his subconscious.

Anyhow I’m not going to push him. He loves swimming and he’ll carry on doing it for as long as he loves it . He still asks to come running with me but he’s a bit small yet. In the meantime I’ve bought him his own little trainers which he’s christened his ‘Super Fast Running Shoes’. I’m sure when the time comes and he’s old enough he won’t be interested in running with me any more!

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