This week I’ve been pondering how best to fit running in around family life, mum-guilt and imposter syndrome. Can you tell that half term is on the horizon?
I’m writing this blog feeling a little weary. This week has felt very long. I think because it’s been the end of the school term, the kids have been tired and below par and everything has seemed like more of an effort than usual, for them and for me.
Answer me this, though. Why is getting out of the house with children for school so flipping difficult? Even when we’re all ready, why does it take 10 minutes to get shoes and coats on and actually leave the house. Is someone changing the clocks without me noticing?
With it being half term next week, I admit I’m still not entirely sure how I’m going to fit all of my training in. Although I’m planning some days out and activities with the boys, I have scheduled in some help with childcare so I can still teach my classes and I’m going to use some of that time to run as well. I am also likely going to take my kids with me on a run on their bikes (will let you know how that goes!) and if I’m really stuck, there is early in the morning or later in the evenings, neither of which I’d say were my preferred time to run, but sometimes needs must! I am often saying to my new mum PT clients, if you wait for that golden, child free hour to do a workout, it is unlikely to come, so I need to take my own advice and work with what I’ve got.
I think that is the one thing that has started to sink in about marathon training with children, versus marathon training pre-kids. It should have been obvious to me really, but there are just a lot of extra variables. I can’t prioritise my own training and recovery because I have two other people who are depending on me to prioritise them. Oh, to be able to say “I’m tired, I think I’ll just have an extra hour in bed”. I admit, I feel a bit guilty just typing this. A little voice in the back of my head tells me it’s selfish to wish to be able to sleep or train rather than play Lego or prepare yet another snack for a hungry child. I’m not really sure why I feel like this. After all, is it really so bad to want to have a bit of time for you, to pursue your own goals?
I’ve found in this last week that my tendency to procrastinate worse than usual, too. I’ve had a few last minute changes in my schedule this week which should have left me with more time to train and catch up on life, but instead I’ve managed to fill the space with faffing around, and although this hasn’t been entirely unproductive (I managed to Marie Kondo my entire collection of activewear, which is not only deeply satisfying but also is already saving me time in the mornings!), I know I’m going to have to be more efficient when the training really heats up in a few weeks’ time. If only you could bank the time and withdraw it when you’re in dire need. That would be a fine thing.
Despite all of this, I’ve had some cracking runs this week. I had one tempo run to do and one interval session and to be honest, they weren’t as bad as I feared and I actually quite enjoyed the intervals (or maybe just with hindsight I enjoyed the sense of achievement afterwards?!).
What has helped, I think, is that the sun has finally put in an appearance. Daffodils and crocuses are starting to pop up everywhere, the birds are in full song and it has felt positively spring like at times. Feeling the warmth of the sun on my face has definitely given me a much-needed boost, especially for my long Sunday run, which I wasn’t exactly looking forward to. I normally love my long runs, but for some reason I was dreading this one. I woke up in a bit of a funk, and what I should have done, was put on my running gear straight away, grab a quick brekkie and head out. Instead, I did the following:
1. Eat a huge breakfast and drink a massive coffee, knowing that I’d have to wait a while for it to digest.
2. Spend frankly longer than necessary ordering a new pair of running leggings online (I hold my hands up and say I already own what is arguably an obscene number of running leggings. But I had a voucher to use up! Well, that’s my excuse anyway).
3. Clean the bathroom and downstairs loo. Not exactly a matter of great urgency.
4. Decide at the last minute that my watch and phone really needed charging (even thought they both had a good 40%+ left) and so I couldn’t possibly go out until they’d been topped up.
5. Finally own up to what was really going on in my head and tell my husband that I fear I’m kidding myself aiming for a sub 3:45 marathon, that I’m going to put in all this effort and it will all be for nothing.
I honestly don’t know what triggered the imposter syndrome today. Thing is, I think we all have moments of self doubt and sometimes this manifests in our inner critic piping up and telling us we’re rubbish and may as well not try. Instead we are told to direct our attention elsewhere, to meaningless tasks which fill the time and distracts us from our goals, rather than actually get on with the task in hand. I know, ultimately, the time doesn’t really matter. I’m not running this marathon for anyone but me and, anyway, if we’re talking about other people’s opinions, my family are the ones that count and I know they will be proud of me however long that final 26.2 takes.
I did of course eventually get out for my run and I am so glad that I did. After that first mile, my feet found a rhythm and instead of the little voice in my head telling me not to bother I felt a growing sense that actually, since that mile had gone so well, perhaps the others would to?
By the time I got to mile 5, my muscles were warm and, as cheesy, as it sounds, I felt alive and grateful for the time by myself, for the fact that I am actually going to run a marathon in a few months’ time. Who cares whether I get the time I want or not? Does it really matter? The day of the race is just one tiny part of the whole marathon experience, the tip of the iceberg relative to the mountain of miles which have been put in during the months before. Shouldn’t it be about finding joy in the process? Otherwise, what really is the point in making yourself miserable and worried?
As I headed back up the hill towards home, I only had a mile left to do and I felt great. My whole mood had changed and, although I’m sure this won’t be the last time in my training that I have doubts or wonder what it’s all for, I have to bank this good feeling and remember that if (when!) I have another day like today, running is probably going to be the solution, rather than the problem.