Making Time For Me

In 2005 I ran A Race for Life. In 2009, I ran the London Marathon.

Before 2005, I could never in my wildest dreams have thought I would be one of the thousands lining up to run 26.2 miles, 4 years after my first 5k. I have no idea what my time was for that first 5k, and while I can remember how much it hurt, I can also remember how proud I was.

Times, splits, placings were all completely irrelevant to me, but something was triggered and the feeling I got from running my first event was life changing.

While I had dabbled with running before children came along, running was always something I felt I should do, rather than something I wanted to do – I certainly wasn’t in love with running.

Race for Life changed all that. Race for Life is a 5k and all-female event. It’s fair to say that entering this event spurred me on to become a runner and running is now deeply engrained in my routine. That doesn’t mean I’m ever going to get a place on the podium, and the only person I am competing against is myself, but I am a runner.

After Race for Life, I turned up at the local running club for the first time to run with their ‘social group’. I was very nervous and concerned I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but from that moment, everything changed.

I entered events, took part in club competitions and running started to become a major focus. Tuesdays and Thursdays were reserved for run club - then I got a place, through my club, to run the 2009 Flora London Marathon.

The training gave me huge focus, but as is often the case for running parents, I felt it came at a cost and I felt guilty about spending too much time training and not enough time with my family.

Finding the right balance

But there is a balance to be struck and everyone needs time to themselves, time to think, time to assess, time to prioritise. In reality, a parent’s ‘me-time’ is often about having the space to think about, plan for and support the family – our families are never far from our thoughts.

The benefits of running are not just for you, but for your family too, so don’t feel guilty.

Running brings rewards for all the family

  • Happiness: Endorphins flood your body, creating happy feelings for you and a more relaxed and happier ‘you’ for your family.
  • Health: Lose weight or just being able to eat what you want, get fitter and you will have more energy to play with the children.
  • Looking after yourself: Running may help squash any negative habits you have, which may help you feel better about yourself.
  • Become an ace project manager of life: Fitting a run into an already hectic schedule will force you to plan ahead and concentrate on the parts that really matter.
  • Nutrition: When you start running, you will probably start looking at your diet. The knock-on effect will be a healthier and more nutritious diet for you and your family. The Runner’s Cookbook by Anita Bean is full of quick to make, family and runner friendly recipes.
  • Being a good role model: demonstrating a healthy lifestyle as well as striving for a goal sets a great example and can influence your children to adopt life-affirming characteristics from an early age.
  • Get a good perspective: running gives you the chance to step back from the circus of life for a brief time. It helps to put things into perspective, and to see challenges from a refreshed view

For some mums and dads, heading out for a run often isn’t as easy as pulling on your trainers and just going out of the door. Instead of accepting you can’t get out to run, think around the problem. Are your children old enough to cycle or scooter alongside you as you run? Do you have a running buggy, or could you borrow one? Perhaps incorporating a run straight after the school or nursery drop-off is the easiest time to get out? Could a trusted neighbour sit with the children for half an hour? Are you able to squeeze in a run at lunchtime from work, or maybe you could run-commute so that you don’t feel your run is taking away from family time?

Small steps can lead to big things

Running is probably the least selfish hobby you could take up. Take one day at a time and regard it as an investment in your physical and mental health, a commitment to your family and an example to your children.

Even if you only manage to get out for half an hour once a week, taking time to switch off on a run and grabbing that valuable ‘me-time’ will benefit everyone around you.

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