On Sunday I ran the White Horse Half Marathon. Training hadn’t gone quite as I had hoped, having hurt my knee early on in the 12-week plan, however I still managed to knock over a minute off my previous personal best. Not bad for a 38 year old mum of 2.
Having started my sporting life as a rower, I loved the team element of the sport and, not being built for speed, the fact that you sat down to row, so if I am honest, I hated running at first. But life changed and not only did I move away from my lovely boat club and crew, I also needed something that was really easy to do wherever and whenever I could. Running was the natural choice and so I persevered. However, it wasn’t until after I had the girls that I truly found my love for the sport.
People don’t always realise that you go through a major recovery programme after giving birth and this was really the first time I had been ‘injured’ so to speak. Fortunately one of my friends was a personal trainer and supported me through the walk/run phase and in fact taught me a lot about how to train smarter and actually get faster.
Previously, I would just go out for a run, plodding along and not really thinking about what I should be doing. This is fine when you have all the time in the world. Once you have children time evaporates and it is really easy to find excuses not to train. However, I find that when I do get out, I want to make each session count and anyway a 30 minute interval session is just as important (if not more so) than a one hour plod. I found by mixing up my sessions and working around the time available I started to get faster. I even do hill sessions now, which amazes my husband as he used to say I had a psychological barrier against hills and would slow down disproportionally when running up them – again, not built for speed.
When my husband disappeared to sunnier climes last summer, time was even less available, so I decided to hire a treadmill. I have to say, to my complete amazement, this is one of the main things that got me through those 6 months. Not only did it keep me running and fit, it also helped my sanity. During those small windows of children sleeping I could jump on and do half an hour, as well as catch up on some trash TV.
The competitive rower in me always needs a purpose to my training and so races are a key motivator. They help me to structure my training and make me find time when I don’t think I have any. I have learnt that some plans are a little unrealistic and running 5 times a week when you have chicken pox in the house is a bit tricky, but as long as I keep the important sessions I still manage to make progress and find I appreciate the time out more.
So now I need to find the next race…I’m never going to be Jo Pavey, but for those 13.1 miles on Sunday I was a runner – full stop.