I was a competitive runner through high-school and university and for a number of years after university. Then, after having kids, I found a lot of excuses as to why I couldn’t still perform at the same level. Less time, less energy, different body, less sleep, less focus on me. But last year I decided to see if I could banish those excuses and try my hardest anyway. I trained for and ran a race, and surprise surprise, I ran my first Personal Best time in over 9 years!
I ran 1:21:43 in a half marathon, which is sixteen seconds faster than I’ve ever run that distance.
Since I’m analizying, I thought I’d take a look at what I do now while working and being a mother to a 5 yr old and 7 yr old vs. what I did nine years ago without kids:
Nine years ago I did interval workouts twice a week with a competitive group of runners. We showed up after work, and began the ritual of warming-up, doing drills, and preparing our minds and bodies for the workout to come. After completing the workout we would do some more running at a relaxed pace, and often included core work. The entire process could easily take two hours.
Today, I do interval workouts at 5:30 a.m. I have somehow managed to convince a group of similarly time-pressed parents from my neighbourhood that this is a fun activity and a good idea. We have a group of around seven people, ranging from run-walkers to competitive runners who meet every Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. prepared to take on whatever hills or intervals I have planned that day. They are amazing, inspiring, dedicated, and definitely get me out there! However, there is no waiting for stragglers, not much of a warm-up and no time for drills. The entire process takes no more than an hour.
Nine years ago I often did my long-runs with my boyfriend (now husband). We would run once we’d eased into our day, had breakfast and read the paper. After the runs the rest of the day was often spent relaxing and recovering.
Today my husband and I coordinate schedules around kids and various activities for me to plan my long runs. They do sometimes still include him, but those ones involve a baby-sitter. Sometimes they involve a baby-sitter and not my husband, and on those runs I tend to break down how much I’m paying per-minute to run and work my hardest to get my best value!
Nine years ago when I raced I focused on nothing but how to set myself up to run my best times. I made sure my logistics and warm-up were timed perfectly for the start, and during the race I was completely focused on my performance.
Today, I often manage my kids’ support-crew experience (food, warmth, transportation) in cheering me on as much as my own race logistics. It’s important to me that they see my running and racing as enjoyable experiences for them as well as for me. During a race I know they’re looking for me, and I’m just as keen to see them. When I do, I make sure I have a smile and wave – whether I’m feeling good or not.
Nine years ago after a race I would treat myself to a nice meal, bath, relaxed reading, and usually a nap.
Today that is one thing I’m trying to maintain! I’m part-way there. After my half-marathon my kids built me a “relaxation fort” and proceeded to take turns massaging me. See? It’s all about training them along with you. And I feel like I’m finally getting there.
The next two challenges: a 10K PB and teaching my kids to clean up after fort/playtime. Wonder which will come first??