If you want something done, ask a busy person, the cliche goes. And if you want efficient marathon training done, ask a parent. Fitting in the miles around a full time job and two kids can certainly be a challenge, but if you are organised, it’s entirely possible. My kids have grown up finding it perfectly normal that their mum usually does a longish run on a Sunday morning, and that she often drops them off at school in running gear or picks them up looking – ahem – slightly less than fresh. In fact I hope I’ve even provided a good role model to them – teaching them that sport is enjoyable, if occasionally a little tough.
I ran my first marathon – London – when they were two and five. They even came along to watch, though being so little, I think all they really saw was the back of a lot of people’s legs. But they are thoroughly a part of my training – my eldest, now nine, knows the difference between a tempo run and an interval session and they both run themselves – taking part in our local 2km junior parkrun and the odd kids race as part of a running festival. They are particularly keen on the latter as they tend to then come home with the all-important medal, and sometimes even a goody bag. And who doesn’t love a goody bag?
They are also used to me fitting in my running around our everyday lives. I often run to work, and on holidays I will run most days. I have occasionally been asked if that shouldn’t be a time for leaving the trainers behind – but for me, that wouldn’t make it much of a holiday. I love running, and particularly running in a new and scenic area so why wouldn’t I want to enjoy it in my leisure time, too? Besides, it’s often the best way to thoroughly explore a new area.
If the weather is decent, my kids can and do sometimes come to track sessions with me – don’t report me: I don’t make them sprint 100m reps until they fall over – they tend to play by the side of the track, making up their own games or doing little sprints if they feel like it, while I do a quick interval session. They even like to help by counting laps or shouting out times. In this way I can even make training itself into ‚family time‘. And occasionally, when I am doing a gentle recovery run, my eldest will come along on her scooter. She might drop back a little up the hills, or whizz past me downhill, but generally we just chat as we loop round the park.
Another thing we sometimes do together is core training and circuits, the latter in our kitchen. Reps tend to consist of such well-known exercises as “one minute of comedy dancing” (I might skip that one for a plank..) or “crazy yoga”. So I get my core work in (something a lot of runners neglect) and they get a bit of exercise and a lot of fun. My top tip, though, is never try competitive yoga with a six year old. You will never, ever win.