The life of a runner, mother, radiopharmacist and vicar's wife – that's me!
I’ve been running of more years than I can remember and there has always been a certain pattern to the training week. Tuesdays and Thursdays have always been track sessions but the training pattern at the weekends has changed over time.
When I was young, we used to go to church on a Sunday and then meet the running coach, Greg, in the park to do long intervals. They were about 1000m each, as fast as we could, around the pitch and putt. The amount of rest we got between each rep would vary depending on whether it was summer or winter, maybe a minute or two. In the depths of winter it was reduced to about 30 seconds. I’m not sure how I ever made it round after such a short break. However, it was good not to be stood around too long when it was really cold. I remember the very first 1000s session that I did. The weather was terrible, you could hardly see 50 yards in front of you because of the fog and worse still, it was freezing cold. By the time I finished the reps, my hair was frozen into little icicles. I miss those Sunday sessions, I loved doing 1000s in the park but all good things come to an end.
I never used to do a long run, not until I moved to Dartford when I was doing my pharmacy training. The furthest I would run in training was about 5 miles but when I moved to Dartford I started to train with a group from Dartford Harriers, which included Geoff Wightman, and we’d go out for a long(ish) run of a Sunday. It was probably only 7-9 miles at most but it was further than I would regularly run. Running through the countryside of Kent was great but I don’t know how I never got lost. I’m terrible with directions on new routes and I had no idea where we were most of the time. I think that, even though I was almost certainly running as fast as I could, the guys were taking it fairly easy so I always managed to keep them in view.
When I started to train for a marathon, that was when the really long runs started. I can never have imagined running more than 10 miles when I was young but soon 16, 18 or 20 miles would be the norm. It is incredibly time consuming, even if you are fairly quick. It isn’t just the running, it’s the getting ready to go for a run, the running and the recovering after you come back from a run. The third stage being particularly difficult when you have kids and I lost count of the times when I would be making the tea or doing the washing up before I’d actually had chance to change out of my running kit. I’d even not have time to have a drink sometimes and become incredibly thirsty later in the evening.
Time constraints on a Sunday, being married to a vicar, have made long runs on a Sunday increasingly difficult. I’ve attempted to get up early (like 6am) and get the running in then. It is a bit of an effort as the weekends are the only days when I can actually still be in bed after 6am as I have to get up early to go to work. But getting up early doesn’t completely solve the problem as, if you want to run for more than 2 hours, then you are actually really pushed for time if you are going to be in a position to look after the kids while your husband gets ready for the morning service. So I sought other options for when to do the long run. I’ve left the kids in the church with Peter and rushed home, put on my running kit and gone out the door missing lunch with the family and arriving back in a tired heap in the early afternoon with no energy to enjoy family time together. Sundays became a bit like a relay for me and my husband with the kids being the baton. He’d hand them over to me so that he could do his vicar stuff, then I’d hand them back to him for the running only to have them handed back to me so that he could fulfil his evening commitments. It doesn’t work. I’m going to have to move my long run to a different day. Sundays can no longer be long run days.
Recently, I’ve been too unwell to train anyway so it hasn’t been an issue but being unwell has given me more time to think about how I want to plan my training and I think that Sundays may end up as a ‘no run’ day rather than a ‘long run’ day. I’m not actually sure I want to do a really long run anyway as I’m not terribly sure that I want to run a marathon or even a half-marathon again. Probably the 7-9 miles I used to do on a Sunday will be sufficient for whatever races I plan to do in the near future.
So, today, I did the sort of thing that I want to do on a Sunday that doesn’t involve running an excessive numbers of miles. I took the kids to the Play Port at Seacombe Ferry Terminal. Daniel is now almost big enough to manage by himself on the soft play, although I did find that I had to squeeze through some impossibly small gaps to help him at times. Naomi loved it and Dominic is nearly too old for it. It was good fun though and I even managed to read my Pharmaceutical Journal while they were playing (see yesterday’s blog about CPD) so I’d better record that on my CPD record! I also got chance to eat lunch with the kids, although Daniel stole all the tuna sandwiches and refused to give any back. So, it was a bit more relaxing than running 20 miles and was probably slightly better and more enjoyable for the kids.