How to keep running as a new dad

I have been on 4 runs in the last 15 days, 4 slow and fairly short runs that felt like I’d run a marathon the day before. My son is now 15 days old, these 2 things may well be related….

It never ceases to amaze me how much a lack of sleep affects your ability to run properly, 3 weeks ago I was running a marathon PB and feeling great, now 5k feels like hard work. Which is both bonkers and demoralising and the same time. I’ve really enjoyed pushing myself this year to take on the races I have and while I’m basically done with racing for the year and having some down time I don’t really want to feel like I need to do the couch to 5k program just to get running again.

Frosty morning run

But I was prepared for this, it’s our 3rd child so I knew how it was going to feel and what I needed to do to manage this period of change. Your priorities have to change, it’s only running after all and you now have a little person to think about (although I seem to remember Mo Farah running a big race a few days after his twins were born which is bonkers). ¬†When you’re used to the endorphin rush of running regularly you need to plan what you’ll do instead so I thought I’d share my thoughts on how to best do this.

  1. Keep running, but slower; if you’re like me running is such a big part of your life that you can’t just stop, but don’t expect to continue as normal. Broken sleep and the tiredness of having a new baby really do affect your energy levels so go out for your runs but take it easy and don’t expect to do your finest tempo run or smash a PB.
  2. Take the opportunity for a break; embrace the fact that you can’t train as normal and use it to give yourself a break both mentally and physically. Forget your GPS watch and weekly training plans for a short while and just enjoy running for fun. We’re all guilty of getting caught up in races and training so use this period as a real break from the intensity.
  3. Focus on strength instead; a follow on from 2 above why not take a break from your usual runs and focus on some strength and conditioning instead? All too easy to forget these things at the height of the season but with reduced time for running this is the perfect time to do some strength training instead? You can do this easily at home so easier to fit in than a run and we all know we can benefit from it. I tend to either do a 20 minute yoga for runners workout or a variation of this strength session.
  4. Take your baby with you; I’ve discovered a new favourite running activity – parkrun with a pushchair. What you do is start near the back and then spend 5k overtaking as many people as you can. There are few things as enjoyable or confidence boosting than flying past someone on the last hill of a parkrun course pushing a pushchair. We have a Phil and Ted’s pushchair which works perfectly, just trying to work out how I justify buying a running specific one.

    Ready for parkrun

    All ready for our first parkrun

  5. Be flexible; no matter if it’s your 1st or 3rd baby a new addition changes things and you’ll need to be a little flexible when you run. During my paternity leave I’ve mainly run in the afternoon as that is a good slot for when the children are napping. It takes some pressure off the mornings as we find a new routine. Once I’m back at work I may well start doing evening runs when the kids are asleep rather than my usual 6am slot because short term that’s going to work best. But you do need to be ready to change your plans if your baby is sick or you had a particularly bad night.

What do you think? Any other tips you’d give to help you keep running as a new dad?

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