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

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Rinse and repeat

I’ve reached the point in my training which I knew would come eventually, where the getting up at 5.40am starts to become dull, where it takes me twice as long to tie my laces in the morning than normal and where the thought of just rolling over and snoozing becomes oh so tempting.

I like to call this the hill of doom

I like to call this the hill of doom

My work schedule hasn’t helped things, I’m currently doing a coverage for a colleague in the US, but from here which means lots of late night meetings. Hardly conducive to being  bright and fresh in the morning is it? But it’s also just the repetition, 560 miles run this year now and that takes its toll. There are only so many different routes you can take from home, especially when you run with a dog. You become blasé about the beautiful scenery and sunrises and it becomes just another run.

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The Running Dad – fitting it all in

All of us have to make choices about where we allocate the minutes and hours of our days. Work and family clearly consume a good chunk of that time leaving relatively small opportunities to do hobbies or other activities. For me blogging obviously takes up another part of the day (and can consume every evening if you let it), there’s a bit of gardening and home maintenance in there, dog walking every day and maybe even some time to actually talk to the lady of the manor occasionally.

Which means for this running obsessed dad I have to work hard to get my daily fix in. I love running, I really do, but can I justify going for a run instead of spending time with my children for example? Difficult to justify that to yourself long term unless if you want to be any sort of real parent.

Barbury castle trailThis leads me to, what is for me, the only real conclusion. Exercise early in the morning before anyone else gets up. It’s perfect, I take the dog so he gets exercised too, the children never really notice that I’ve gone and I get a quality run in while most people are still tucked up in their beds.

It’s definitely not easy dragging yourself out of bed at 5.40am every day come rain or shine, putting a head torch on in the dark winter mornings so you can see where you are going. But on days like today it’s just fabulous. Mother nature puts on one hell of a show as the sun rises and the mist slowly clears from fields. We see deer, rabbits, hares, pheasants and cows most of which Bracken will attempt to chase.

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So you want to be a runner?

So you want to be a runner do you? The sun has started shining and you want to get that bikini body ready or you watched the London marathon and felt inspired? Well let me warn you right now, once you start you won’t stop. Once you experience the endorphin high of a good run you’ll be longing for the next opportunity to slip on those running shoes and head out.

Still with me? Then read on.

A few people have asked me recently how to start running so  thought I’d share my top tips for getting those legs moving. Nothing revolutionary or new here but it can be a daunting thing to begin an exercise regime for the first time so hopefully this might just help you take the plunge.

  1. Just do it; if you want to be a runner then put on some trainers and go for a run. Seriously. Forget needing to buy all the gear etc, if you go out and run you are a runner. That truly is the great thing about running, it’s such a simple thing. You pop on your trainers and away you go. Of course some comfortable clothing and shoes will help things but don’t let that be an excuse for not starting.
  2. Shiny new trail shoesInvest in some good trainers; yes you can run in any shoes, barefoot even, but if you want to give yourself the best chance of actually enjoying and sticking with running then a good pair of trainers will really help. Find your local running shop and spend some time getting advice and trying a few pairs on. Most likely you’ll be spending at least £60 so make sure you’re serious about sticking with it.
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Keeping tracks

I’m even more obsessed with running than normal at the moment so that’s generally what my brain wants to write about.

Runkeeper screen shot 1

That obsession also means that I want to know how far I’ve fun, at what speed and also how many miles I’ve run in the last week/month/year. For one thing it helps you understand how you’re training is going and whether you truly are getting fitter and faster. But it’s also quite nice to truly know how many miles you’ve covered each week rather than guessing at it. I may also have set myself the target of running 1000 miles this year but we’ll keep that one quiet.

This is where smartphone app’s come in so useful, yes I would love to buy myself a Garmin GPS watch but that’s £130 and doesn’t do that much more than the free app I’ve downloaded onto my iPhone.

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