The life of a runner, mother, radiopharmacist and vicar's wife – that's me!

How being a working mum has ruined my running

Help, it’s only 9 weeks until the Nottingham marathon. By now I should be deep into marathon training, long runs, quick intervals and tempo runs. I should be feeling like I’m always running. Sweaty running kit should be lying round the house and my legs should be beginning to feel a little bit tired.

Instead, I have a drawer full of clean kit, the running shoes are accumulating dust and I’m sitting on the sofa typing a blog. What is going on?!!

Excalibur and onwards

Things were going pretty well. About 5 months out I’d managed to pack in a few long runs. I got under 20 min for the 5k parkrun. I even did the Excalibur marathon in May – a crazy marathon in the hills of North Wales. If I could do that then running in Nottingham would be a doddle.


Then I went on holiday. It’s always a mistake to go on holiday, you relax, take the weight off your feet, spend time with the family and generally let down your guard. That’s when it struck.

It started as a general feeling of not being quite right. The run felt harder work than it should have done. Then my throat started to feel a bit sore, then I started to develop a temperature and, before I knew it, I was in bed with a full blown fever.

Survived Saunders

I haven’t really recovered from that. I did manage to get back into some kind of training at the end of June and I did the Saunders Mountain Marathon the first weekend in July with Anne but it was more like a long walk than a proper run. It was meant to be a proper run but a) I wasn’t really well enough and b) we had to carry all our stuff (about 5kg each) which might have been OK had it not been for the aforementioned point a). We made it round, I didn’t die and actually, I didn’t feel too awful. I thought that perhaps I was on the mend and that I could begin my marathon training in earnest.


I set myself a plan and started in hopeful anticipation that I would be able to achieve my goals. On Monday, the 800s didn’t go well. I was running downhill with a following wind but yet they were about the slowest 800s ever. Not to worry, it was my first fast session after several week’s break and just a few gentle training runs. Things didn’t improve, Tuesday’s run was slow and laboured and then by Thursday I really felt pretty awful. I had finally succumbed to the bug that my husband and son had had. That was a week and a half ago and I’m still not well.  Basically, I’ve had about 2 weeks of running in 2 months.

So that is why I find myself sitting on the sofa, typing a blog, rather than out running those miles that I need to do in order to be confident that I can run 26.2 miles in 9 weeks time.

Why do I never recover?

It always takes me ages to get over whatever illness I have, somebody else can have something similar and get over it in a couple of days whereas it takes me a couple of weeks to get over these things. I was wondering why that was. Is there something wrong with my immune system? Is there something wrong with my diet? Why do I take so long to recover?

I think that I’ve finally found the answer – I’m a working mum!

How work has ruined my running
I’ve been ill for a week and a half but in all that time, I’ve only taken half a day off. I’ve still gone in every day. Why? Well there are a few reasons that I’ve identified:

  1. I’m in charge,
  2. We were short of staff anyway and if I didn’t go in then it wouldn’t be possible to provide all the injections for the patients – is my running more important than the patients? That’s quite a difficult one, perhaps I shouldn’t think about it, perhaps I should just take the time off, go to the doctor and get a sick note like other people do rather than struggling in,
  3. I didn’t feel really, really ill, I just wasn’t well so would it be right to stay at home? Sometimes I think it is because I have a good underlying fitness that I don’t seem too ill when I’m actually quite ill. What would put others in bed for a week just stops me going for a run – but am I any less ill?
  4. If I have to go to the doctor then I need to take half a day off just to ensure that I get an appointment. It’s a crazy system but you have to ring up at 8.30 to get a same day appointment but there’s no predicting when that appointment might be and generally there isn’t time to get to work only to have to come back for the appointment. Since I start at 7.15, the whole morning is lost. Basically, there isn’t time to even go to the doctor.
  5. If I stay at home instead of going to work, it isn’t all that restful. Even when I came home early on Friday, I still ended up looking after the kids all day and doing the cooking – most people consider that a full time job not a rest.


How being a mum has ruined my running
It doesn’t matter whether their dad is sitting right next to them, the kids will still come and seek me out if they want something. Why do kids do that? I’m sure it isn’t just me who has that happening. Similarly, they could be playing quite happily downstairs and I’ll think, you know what? I’ll just go and lie down for a couple of minutes upstairs. No sooner has my head hit the pillow than there will be a child saying “can I have a drink?”, “can I have some paper to draw a picture?”, “can we go swimming?”

Then there are the household chores. It’s all very well saying “leave them” but if I don’t put the washing in the machine or hang it out or cook the food then all that happens is that we have a pile of dirty washing (or wet washing) and the kids end up eating rubbish while perfectly good food goes to ruin in the fridge.

The solution?
So, I’m wondering if there is a solution to this problem. The good news is that from next week, I am changing my hours. I’m effectively going to be working 4 days but I’ll be squeezing all the hours into 3 days so that I have 2 days off each week. In return, we are getting a new technician at work starting on Monday who will cover for my lost hours and add some in too. I’m hoping that it will work out well for the department but more than that, I’m hoping it will work out well for me. Maybe I’ll even have time to go to the doctor and get a sick note! Hopefully I will get well and be able to pack in some training in the next 9 weeks. Wish me luck!

If you want to follow my progress, why not listen to my podcast on Spreaker. Click here to listen to the latest episodes.

I’m running the marathon for the R-charity, it’s a charity for the hospital where I work so that we can buy specialist equipment for the new hospital. If you want to find out more then please take a look at my JustGiving page and consider sponsoring me. Thanks.

6 comments on “How being a working mum has ruined my running

  1. wolfytwex
    July 25, 2016

    Good luck with training, 9 weeks is still plenty and hopefully the new work arrangements will help. From my working mum experience all the difficulties on the way make reaching the end of the race so much more worthwhile!

    Liked by 1 person

    • runmaggiecooper
      July 26, 2016

      Thanks. Can’t beat having kids so although I may moan, I love them too much to moan for too long. Just have to work everything else round them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. misamiyya
    July 26, 2016

    Likewise above, good luck with your training! 🙂
    I understand that it’s difficult to train with kids and household chores or even long work hours. (I have seriously long working hours per day) but just don’t ever give up! If you can complete your goal marathon even when all these going around, you’d be extra proud of yourself 🙂


  3. ThisGirlRuns
    July 26, 2016

    Sounds like you need a change in perspective. Start looking at the positives instead of the negatives. You pulled every negative thought you could out of the situation instead of finding a reason you can workout. I would never in my life blame work or kids for ruining my running. It is either a priority or it isn’t. I have 3 children am a single mom and work 50+ hours a week but training isn’t deterred. Yes, I miss runs…yes, I have to put myself last sometimes. But having the right perspective has kept my running going. Having the kids ride their bikes while I run…taking them to a local park to play while I run loops. It is only what you make of it.


    • runmaggiecooper
      July 26, 2016

      True and I wrote the blog slightly tongue in cheek. However, I’m ill and I keep getting ill so I can’t run while the kids cycle in the park, I can’t run while they do drama class, I can’t run while somebody else looks after them, I can’t run at all right now and that is enormously frustrating. It isn’t about having to miss one or two runs, it’s about not being able to run at all for weeks and months at a time because I’m ill. I’m not entirely convinced that a change in perspective is going to make me well but I am pretty confident that changing my work schedule will make a huge difference and give me more time both for the kids and for running and hopefully will mean I don’t get so ill so often. I appreciate your comment though because it is about how you handle adversity and not about the adversity itself and it is good to get the right perspective on that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on July 25, 2016 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: