I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with running. Don’t ever ask me about Parkrun – I’ve tried that beast twice and both times I entered the finish funnel in tears (not happy ones). But in 2014 I fell into a routine of running to and from my local gym, and the regularity of my plod-plod miles got me to a stage where I just about enjoyed it.
When I was pregnant with my second baby, I was determined not to let my fitness levels drop. So, right from the day I got my positive result on a pregnancy test, I carried on lacing up my trainers and jogging to the gym. While pregnancy isn’t the time to introduce new routines and sports, it’s perfectly safe to continue with an existing programme as long as your midwife is happy and you don’t develop any health issues.
It soon became my headspace, my time just to be “me”. Working out was the only time I felt normal, which was ironic as my growing tummy certainly scored me a few second glances while I notched up the miles!
I ran right up until the day I gave birth, although by that stage I was so slow that a snail could have lapped me. No matter, I’d maintained my fitness and stamina throughout my pregnancy and found a deeper love and respect for the power of running, both for the physical aspect and the mental clarity that it gave me.
After I had my baby, I took full rest for a fortnight before I began climbing the walls to get out. I needed to be free, which was a feeling I’d happily come to associate with running. I handed my baby to my husband, slipped into my lycra, and took a very steady, slow run along the riverbank which backed onto my house. It was sheer joy. I felt weightless (dropping an instant stone of baby, placenta and “goo” will do that to a lady!) and I took in huge lungfuls of crisp, early March air feeling as if I could take on the universe.
“I’m going to enter a half marathon. Find me a flat one.” I said to my husband when I got home, pink and exhilarated.
“Oh, blimey,” he said. “Right, okey doke – what about Gosport? It’s fast and flat as a pancake, you’ll be great.”
My husband runs marathons and I trust him implicitly with all things runner. The fact that he didn’t laugh in my face is testament to his confidence in my ability, which is steadfast even when I’m having a major wobble and threaten to sling my running shoes in the bin.
So, I entered Gosport. Then I trained over the spring and summer. We’d put the children to bed together, and I’d maximise the light evenings and use the lovely green spaces in Southampton to get the miles in. I started with 5k, then worked up to 5 miles, then 10k, then 10 miles…and by the time we’d hit August, I was up to half marathon distance in my training. I know, you don’t have to go full distance in training – but I guess I needed to know that I COULD do it, that I had it in my legs before race day.
Gosport whizzed around and, typically, there was a literal gale the night before the race. I was refreshing the event Facebook page every minute while I tried to force down a bowl of porridge, praying that it would go ahead. The verdict from the race director came in: conditions would be tough, but Gosport was go. I could barely speak in the car with nerves!
We arrived in good time and I nipped into the waiting area to breastfeed my baby (I’ll spare you the details but it’s always good to have an empty out before a run, in more ways than one!). The room was full of runners slathering on Deep Heat and checking their GPS signals on their watches, and I started to feel the tingling of adrenaline and anticipation.
On the start line, the wind whipped through the crowd and it was already raining, but, miraculously, I was ok. I started strong, and I found my stride quickly. By mile eight I was completely comfortable with my pace and I dared to hope I might actually beat my training PB, despite the headwind.
I did. I finished with a chip time of 1hr 46 minutes. I was euphoric. My baby was nine months old to the day, and I’d just run a half marathon. I’d trained through teething troubles, sleepless nights, blisters, coughs and colds, and I’d proved to myself that hard work really does pay off.
I’ve completed another half since then, with two more in the calendar. And guess what? I’m going to make 2018 my marathon year.
I still quake in fear at the thought of Parkrun though…!
Massive thanks to Sam for sharing her story after her second arrival!
Sam is a fitness and parenting blogger and her website has lots of posts about motivation and goalsetting. You can find Sam at www.mousemoometoo.com, or on Instagram @mousemoo_metoo and Twitter @mousemoo_metoo.
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