Before I start this one I just want to make it clear that I don’t write this to brag about how fast my running is or the weight I have lost. I write it only to say it can be done. Even if you have just had a baby and you think you will never look the same again you can certainly get fit again and running is part of how I have got back to the old me. I am not going to lie and say that your stomach is likely to look like that of a teenager – mine is like car crash, but it is now flatter and more toned. Don’t get me started on the C section pouch that is a whole different disaster zone which running will never fix….
Anyway my point is if you had told me 3 years ago that I would have been writing an article about why I love running then I would have thought you were a little stupid. At that time I was about to give birth to twins and was the largest that I could ever fathom being. I could barely walk so actually I might have thought you were taking the piss a bit! Now clearly a lot of that was baby (well babies), but if I am honest much of it was cake! Something had to be done…
After the twins were born I knew I was done with this baby making thing. Four under four was enough to rid me of any more urges to pro create. The internal knowledge that this part of my life was over tripped something in my head to enable me to lose the weight I had been carrying since I had my eldest son some 4 years earlier. I began to eat right, not diet, but eat right. I mostly have done this through online research and cooking from the Body Coach cook books. I did kick-start the whole process with a calorie restricted diet just so I could break some of my bad habits. I was eating a family bag of minstrels on a regular basis so I needed a bit of cold turkey. I also began to exercise, but I didn’t do it as soon as the twins were born. I waited until I was mentally ready and for me that was when they were about 6 months old
To start with I got a Personal Trainer, which was a luxury, but as I had carried four babies within 4 years I wanted to make sure that I didn’t hurt myself and get my stomach muscles sorted. Also I am way way way too tight to pay for a trainer and then not use the sessions! To start with we worked out in my very small back garden doing loads of core work and cardio circuits, but very low impact. Then after a couple of months she suggested that we head over to the common and it was then that my love affair with running began…
I used to hate running with every fibre of my being, but when I went out with the trainer I had no choice. I am a rule follower so there was no way I would refuse to do something and so I started doing short sprints. Over time I got quicker and quicker and began to also do workouts on other days of the week where I included the sprint sessions. At some point my trainer suggested I try to run 5km. I sort of laughed her off, but she convinced me that I was fit enough to do it and so one Saturday I got my trainers on and headed off. Lo and behold I did it and it wasn’t so bad. I was so chuffed that I had managed it as that was the first time I had been able to do 5km since I had my children.
From there I became a regular runner and made 5km my base distance; gradually building up to a typical 7 pr 8 km each time and longer runs of up to 12 kms when I feel like I can. Combining this with my HITT training and a session with the personal trainer once a week and I am the fittest I have ever ever been! The added bonus is that I have lost around 3 stone and am back to my pre baby weight dress size.
Reasons running is good for you:
Now I am no scientist, but in my research for this article I found so many reasons that running is good for you including:
- Increasing average life expectancy for around 3 year
- Decreasing the chances of getting cancer
- Increasing blood flow to the ear improving your hearing
- Weight loss and lean muscle increase
- Improved thinking due to the creation of a protein that fuels the brain when running
- Increased serotonin levels
Even if only some of these are actually scientific fact I’ll take them!
Reasons I love running:
- I love running because as soon as I start I can virtually feel the various labels falling away; when I am running I am not mummy, wife, daughter, writer. I am just human. There is something hugely liberating about that when you are used to have someone always needing something from you. It is entirely freeing and something that I do just for me.
- It is the perfect exercise for a busy mummy as you only need you and so it is possible to go whenever you have the chance. I could never have managed joining a gym as the time to get there would be eating into my already limited time, but with running as soon as I leave the house I am already into my workout
- Running has become my thinking space. I think about all the stuff I need to get done, but not so much the daily grind stuff. I have space when I am running to think of new ideas for the blog and about the bigger stuff; what do I want for me, where am I headed and how can I get there. Of course my future is inextricably linked with that of my children and my husband and so I am planning for all our futures. Many of these thoughts will never come to fruition, but just having the time to think of them without someone asking me for a snack or telling me that their brother is copying them has revolutionised the way I feel about me and has undoubtedly made me happier.
- Staying toned – even though I weigh more than I did before I had kids I am more toned than ever before in my adult life
- Personal achievement – I do achieve stuff within the day, but getting the washing on before the school run didn’t always do it for me and so I love that running has given me a new avenue for achievement. It might be to run further or run faster, but I feel great when I manage it
- 1:1 time with my boys – mostly I run on my own as it is my time with me, but I have also recently discovered how fun it is to take one of the boys on their bike and have them cycle whilst I run. My 7 year old managed 6.5km today and we stopped at the playground for a good climb too. Clearly from an exercise standpoint it isn’t as good a work out for me as there is much stopping and I have to run slower, but it is great to be outside with one of my boys having time with just them whilst doing something active and hopefully building healthy lifestyle habits for them too
- Time with the husband – once a week we do a workout together whether that be a run or a session with the PT and it is fun to get out there and do something positive for ourselves and our future
If you are thinking of starting to run then these would be my top tips. Remember I am not a doctor or any kind of fitness professional. This is just my opinion. You might want to see a doctor before starting a new exercise regime:
- Build up slowly. I think if you push too hard too fast then you can just hurt yourself and put yourself off the whole idea
- If you have had children I would advise checking with a doctor or physio or a trainer that you are ok to run as I can imagine if there were any pelvic floor issues running might not be your friend
- Be a fair weather runner to start with. I will now still go out if it is raining or windy, but it is undoubtedly harder and I don’t like it. So when you are getting started make life easier and go running when the weather is better. I think this is the reason that so many new years resolutions go south real fast! It is just the wrong time of year to start an outdoor activity. You need to be really loving your running to go out when it is totally freezing.
- Buy some new shoes. My running trainers were not expensive, but I replace them around every 6 months and it makes a difference.
- Warm up and cool down. It does make a difference to the muscle aches afterwards and the ease of the run itself.
- Use one of the couch to 5km apps to progress. I didn’t use these as I had the trainer, but my friends tell me they are great and really help to build up without injury
- Get some headphones and create a running playlist. It makes it so much more fun when accompanied by music
- Try some different routes until you find something that suits you. I find running repeat laps demoralising. I just can’t do it. Instead I run a pre decided distance in one direction and then turn around and run back by a slightly different route. It seems to trick my brain into not knowing how much further there is to go
- Check out if there is a Park run in your local area. Personally because this is 3 laps of the same track I find it tough going although it is only 5km. I still do it though as it is great to know your results compared to others in your age group etc… You can really check your improvement.
Running has genuinely improved my quality of life and I feel happier when I run. Before I started this get fit journey I couldn’t run for a bus. If I can do it then anyone can. So if you are thinking about it I say give it a go. I was in such bad physical shape, but by starting slow and building up I am now able to run upwards of 10km and am entered to run the Virgin British 10km race in London this July.
I will be running this for Tamba (The Twins and Multiple Society) who do fantastic and life saving research into the reasons for the death of twins and multiples as well as providing ongoing support and assistance to thousands of families with multiples.