So today’s post is brought to you by one of my bestests buds called Annie. We have been friends for 20 years now (which is ridiculous), and she has recently gotten back into running after some pretty big life changes, such as moving to the other side of the world and having a baby.
She recently knocked 3 minutes off her Park run time – amazing!!! I thought it would be good to share the low down on how she combines running, motherhood and moving to the other side of the world….
Tell us about your running experience post-baby.
Just before I got pregnant, I was running fairly regularly, but found it hard to stay motivated without a goal. So I decided to sign up for the Great South Run in Oct 2011 with my husband, but I discovered I was pregnant in the build up to the race! I gave my place to someone else, but it’s a race I’d still love to do.
I waited a few months after having my daughter to start running again. Living by the sea, I missed my weekly coastal runs, but time and energy were seriously lacking after having a baby. It took time to find a rhythm of life where running was a regular feature in my week: initially I felt restricted because I couldn’t just chuck on my running shoes and head out whenever I wanted. I overcame this by going out earlier – before everyone else woke up so no one missed me. In fact, the quietness of morning runs appeal to me anyway – they clear my head for the day ahead.
To help me stay committed to running again, I joined a local park run, which is a Saturday 5k fun run led by volunteers who time you and cheer you on. Later in the day, you receive a text with your time and an occasional ‘Woohoo you beat your PB!’ I would totally recommend park runs! They happen every Saturday in most parks all over the UK and internationally.
After I was beginning to feel the thrill of running again, Ellie got in touch and suggested doing the Stubbington 10K in January 2014 with another school friend. The starting line was just down the road from our old school gates, where our running days began. I couldn’t wait – finally, a manageable race I could enter and complete with friends! It was a perfect day – the sun shone and the supporters were out in force. I felt so thrilled to have finally completed a race. 😀
So you had just found your groove (love that feeling!), and then you moved overseas… that’s huge. How did that impact everything?
Seven months later my husband and I moved with Evie to Vancouver, Canada for a career break and to study at post-grad level. We arrived in the peak of summer and for the first month explored the beautiful city of Vancouver. One thing stood out – this was a VERY active city. People were cycling, hiking, yoga-ing, swimming, SUP-ing, kayaking, skating, playing beach volleyball and of course, running.
The great thing about living where we live on the UBC campus is that there are active student societies, clubs and sports teams bursting with positive, can-do attitudes on our doorstep. In fact I have joined 2 running clubs that run 5K routes every week, and with my husband’s schedule being more flexible, it’s easier to get out there. I was nervous joining them, as they seemed so athletic, but I soon realised they are just like me: working towards their own goals.
Each group has a markedly different standard; one being for beginners which is nice because I can run at a comfortable pace. The other group is full of undergraduate university athletes (most 10 years my junior!), all of whom are yet to have children! This group pushes me and forces me to run at a gut-busting pace. The way I see it, one group builds my confidence, and the other makes me a better runner.
The beauty of running is that you can be part of a group even if you are a different pace or different fitness level, because it’s not a race. If I let the fear of ‘everyone is a better, fitter, faster runner than me’ get the better of me, then I would never join a club and would definitely not be better, fitter or faster!
The UBC campus is probably one of the most beautiful university campuses in the world, located on a peninsula, and surrounded by stunning Canadian pine forests with undulating woodland trails. The views of the sea and mountains, the woodland trails and the dramatic, changing colours of the seasons all act as inspiration and motivation to get out and run in rain, sun or snow.
You seem to be in a strong place at the moment. Have you always been into running?
Actually, Ellie and I started our running days together way back in 1995 doing the school cross-country (Ellie: it totally hurts me to read this date and include it in the blog. I’m living in a world where I’m forever 26).
One particular highlight of the cross-country route was running parallel to an MoD naval training base where sailors would inevitably shout obscenities from their windows – it motivated us to quicken our pace! The best part of the route was the sneaky short cut we took across the farmers’ fields, with absolutely no thought for the crops (oh, to be carefree and young again).
I found I was naturally good at cross-country running, with medals to show for my exploits. I thought it easy to achieve top 5 finishes at the various levels I performed at. But in fact what I hadn’t fully appreciated, and now do, was the benefit of the three times a week 3-mile runs I used to do with my Dad. It was a ‘dad & daughter thing’ that we shared together. It was in these tri-weekly runs that I learnt how to pace myself and develop my sprint finish! So a shout out to my Dad for giving me a love of running and teaching me the essentials (pacing, posture etc…).
Sounds like you’re working towards your old standard, and doing really well! Any closing thoughts on running, or where you find motivation now?
Overall, running post baby has been a different experience for me, primarily from a priorities point of view – and with so many areas of life vying for my time and energy. Yet I have to say my Canada experience is massively assisting me motivationally. The lure of coastal runs with stunning sea and mountain views over Vancouver’s English Bay is a pull I simply cannot resist when planning my week. And to top it all off I haven’t been verbally abused by any sailors…yet!
Thanks for sharing your experience, Annie – there’s loads of great ideas here, like the Park Run and joining a running club. Joining a club when I moved to Durham was the best thing I did too, and really helped my speed and motivation.
Just a quick aside – Annie’s 2 year old daughter has read Jane Eyre. Yep – I’m not joking. It’s been distilled down to 5 words….
As an English Lit grad, I am so proud of her.