I would like to take a moment to apologise to anyone who was a new mum between the years of 2010 and 2012. It has dawned on me that at some point during this time, as a full-time staff member at Women’s Running, I definitely wrote the line: “Can’t find time to run? Why not get up early, before the rest of the household is awake, and get those miles in at the start of the day?”
If I had read this as a new mum trying to get a handle on her running once more, I would have wanted to punch me in the face. I know this because, as I reread this line now, I want to punch myself in the face.
RUN BEFORE THE REST OF THE HOUSEHOLD IS AWAKE?! Ha! OK, I’ll just set my alarm for 1:07am and pop out for a quick jog IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.
Here’s the thing about motherhood in the early years: there is no ‘start of the day’. There is no ‘end of the day’.
There is simply a cycle of ‘moments in the day’; moments made up of trying to keep the little people alive (essential) and happy (preferable). And this cycle is unending. My children, adorable as they are, don’t give a crap whether it’s 2pm or 2am; if they’re thirsty or need a wee or feel poorly, I’m on call.
And it’s kind of lovely feeling so needed; being so completely necessary in someone else’s life.
But then I remember sleep deprivation is a form of torture, so could I please just lie down and close my eyes between the hours of 11pm and 4am? No? Oh.
Unfortunately, having so little time to myself these days (plus feeling a touch groggy due to the aforementioned day-shift-plus-night-shift combo), means my running routine has suffered. My weekend runs have remained pretty consistent, but gone are the days when I could happily head out for a run three times a week, whenever it suited me. It’s virtually impossible to block book several hours out of my life at the moment and reserve them for just me and my trainers.
Or so I thought.
OK, so the ‘several hours’ bit is still a no-go. But do I really not have any time to run in the week?
Then it hit me: in the time it was taking me to complain that I don’t get the chance to go running regularly anymore, I could have actually gone for a run. Not a long run, but still a run.
I had become so stuck in the mindset that each run had to be more than half an hour to make it worthwhile, I was doing myself out of training – and me – time. You see, here is my revelation: every run counts. If I only have a 10-minute window to pop my trainers on and head out of the door, then so be it: it is worth it.
And so, with a fresh perspective, my running routine is back… just like that! It looks a little different, naturally. It is compressed; an abridged version of everything I was accustomed to in the past. Whereas a short mid-week run used to be 40 minutes in a lunch break, now it might be 15 minutes on the night my husband gets home early enough to bath the kids. It might be half an hour with the running buggy, once my son is at pre-school. It might be 10 minutes around the park while my friend takes over pushing the kids on the swings. It might not be much, but those three (OK, sometimes two) mid-week runs are back.
My new ‘make every minute count’ mentality is already having a positive effect – my weekend runs, for instance, are getting a little faster and a little longer. I am getting stronger. Having a running routine back in place – even with my limited time frame – feels like a decent starting point. I know that, in time, I will be able to claw a little more time back for myself. But for now, I am happy with a few super-short sessions.
Mind you, have I managed an early run yet, before the rest of the household is awake? Of course I bloody haven’t.
You can check out Claire’s blog, keeprunningmummy.wordpress.com, or find her at Facebook.com/KeepRunningMummy or on Twitter @KeepRunningMum. For more blogs by Claire, head over to her blog on the site.