Life is busy when you’re a working mum of two. Monday to Friday I’m living the ‘one-handed life’ i.e constantly juggling and frequently doing two things at once. The week is spent rushing around, commuting, picking up kids, hurling washing on the line, throwing together suppers – you get the picture. It can get overwhelming at times. The love of a good man helps, as do friends who make me laugh and my amazing colleagues, but what REALLY helps is going for a run. Not words I can imagine typing this time last year.
I started running last December – on Christmas Day in fact. I think it was a combination of feeling sluggish, and knowing that the next 10 days or so were going to involve a lot of eating that were the catalyst. I set off. And lasted about 10 mins before getting completely out of breath and having to stop. But there was something invigorating about it. I set myself a challenge, and signed up for my first ever 10K race in May, a terrifying thought at the time – it seemed so far. I started running twice a week, gradually increasing my time. When I finished the race I felt invincible.
Now, mid September, I am about to embark on my second 10K. Running has become part of my life. I feel better and my jeans fit. I can run for the proverbial bus, and going running has become part of my week.
It is still hard. I am not fast. There are days when running is awful. And days when it lifts my spirits and moving my body outside in nature, with the sun shining (or the wind biting and the rain coming down in sheets) makes me feel truly alive. It is quite a feeling. As I live in a city, I make an effort to seek out running routes through local parks in South London and along the Thames. I see my surroundings in a new way. I feel free and I feel good and I am a happier mummy. It is a good feeling.
So I will keep on juggling. And striving. And running.
My 5 tips for starting running:
1. A journey starts with a single step. Don’t worry about fancy clothes or trainers – find an old t-shirt and some leggings and some reasonable trainers, and just start. Find an opportune moment and go out the door and jog for a bit.
2. The NHS has a training plan for beginner runners called Couch to 5K - while I didn’t use it myself, I’ve heard it’s really good.
3. Set yourself a goal, for example ‘my aim is to do two laps of the park’, ‘I want to be able to run for 20 minutes without stopping’. Build up to it and enjoy the sense of achievement once you can do it.
4. Think about signing up for a charity race – a 5K or 10K – in a few months’ time. It is very motivating having a specific goal in mind.
5. Use an app such as Strava, which is free, to map your runs and log your times. It is very motivating seeing your improvements.
Good luck, and go for it.