Saturday, January 5, 2019

A running mum's year

As 2018 turns to 2019, it seems like a good time to reflect on the running year gone by, in particular the challenge of coming back after having a baby. Winning the British Championship this year was a real surprise, and a great honour. But it would be a lie to claim it was easy, so I felt I should write down a few lines - with other new mums in mind - to say how it really was.

Firstly, I should point out that I have been incredibly fortunate, and that I’m well aware that my challenges pale in comparison with those of other new mothers. For a start, I had a straightforward pregnancy and was able to carry on running until the day my daughter was born. Secondly, I had no major trauma following childbirth (I’m currently working with a physiotherapist on closing the separation between my abdominal muscles – diastasis recti – but this is fairly common after pregnancy, and actually hasn’t been a major barrier for me in terms of exercise). Thirdly I have a very supportive family, in particular my husband and parents, who make it possible for me to get out running and racing on a regular basis.

Nevertheless, I still found it hard coming back to running form (I’m actually not sure I have arrived there yet – I realise now that my ‘pre-baby’ expectations on this subject were somewhat naïve!). When I first started training again it was a bit of a shock to discover how unfit I’d become, friends I’d run with comfortably in the past now seemed impossibly fast. Trying to do too much too soon, I picked up a tendon injury and had to reconcile myself to the gym for two miserable months. With the return of the light came a return to the fells, but all too soon also a return to work. Training became a juggling act with baby time, training frequently taking second place, or losing out altogether. To reconcile the two, I started to train from 5-6.30am before work, whilst my little family were cosy warm in bed, but it wasn’t easy, especially after a night of broken sleep (our offspring is not of the ‘sleep through the night’ variety).

Looking back at the end of the season I was slightly surprised, but extremely happy with what I had achieved (British Champion, and being competitive again at a world level in Skyracing at Glencoe Skyline in September). However, maybe as a consequence of contentment, my motivation to train took a definite nose-dive. I found it harder and harder to leave my bed for the cold darkness outside, and realised that I needed a new focus. So I did something crazy, and entered a race I’d vowed I would never ever run, the Spine (a 426km race non-stop along the Pennine Way in mid-January). Realising I’d need to up my game and run more than 30 miles a week in preparation, I also started training in a focused way for the first time in my life. We’ll see whether that’s worked in a week (eek!!!).  The bigger challenge might be of another kind however... my intention to complete the weaning process over Christmas suffered a big blow when Rowan got two viral infections back-to-back and refused to take anything except breast milk for 5 days. Now I’m trying to work out the feasibility of pumping at every checkpoint to keep myself milked... 😉

Spine training with a pack...



I believe there will be a tracker to follow my progress (or lack of), excellent procrastination for those dark January workdays in the office!

23 comments:

  1. Excellent blog you are doing well in the spine race as i dot watch half way through your superhuman well done

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  2. Brilliant and inspiring. As a mum of 4 and a distance runner every time has been a challenge in its own way. This is beautifully written. Well done and how awesome it is to follow your progress on the Spine!!!

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  3. Following your progress right now, in the lead while weaning at every checkpoint, You Can Do It.

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  4. Fantastic read! I’ve been following the tracker & you’re doing just excellent! Such an inspiration to all!

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  5. Wow, the tracker site keeps crashing - it's all the zillions of people constantly hitting refresh and wishing you on to the overall win!

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  6. As a breastfeeding mum who does zero running, I think you are absolutely inspiring!

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  7. Totally inspirational Jasmin, have been following your amazing progress on the Spine and it is incredible - just willing you on the last miles now

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  8. In past years it has been my husband who has kept up with Spine Updates. Not any more....I have to keep logging on to see how you are getting on. So inspirational!

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  9. Certainly helped with my procrastination in the office this week! I was glued to the tracker! Absolutely amazing performance. Well done Jasmin!

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  10. Well done fantastic achievement

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  11. What an inspiration you are to me (and my three daughters!) I'm aiming to complete the Spine 'fun run' to Hardraw in summer 2020 after several years of dot watching whilst breastfeeding!

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  12. You're an inspiration. I am amazed by what you've achieved. Reading your blog and seeing what you can do is so empowering! You're my superheroine!

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  13. Wow, congratulations on the win... now you are a superhero to not only your child, but to every running mum out there... a fantastic effort... #badassmotherrunner

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  15. Hi Jasmin! I work at MHSG and we would love to chat with you about your incredible experiences since leaving and feature your story in High Flyer. Could you pop me an email at all? You can reach me at development@mhsg.manchester.sch.uk, Best wishes Lex Robinson (Alumnae and Development Manager)

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  16. Hello. I am not ENTIRELY sure why I am writing! I have always known fell runners are as mad as a sack of badgers, but something about your running and achievements while seriously pregnant, and subsequently a breast feeding mum tripped memories of my - then, but alas no longer - partner's pregnancy and early motherhood. We did a couple of backpacking trips in the latter stages of her pregnancy, and another couple when our son was in his first year, after Lin had recovered from a difficult labour and some 'structural' damage... We felt amazing camping out for 2 nights in a circum-perambulation of Scafell, making up baby bottles with boiled and cooled water from the becks and tarns (Lin wasn't able to breastfeed after about 3-4 months for various reasons), me carrying 30+ kilos in a 75 litre pack, while Lin carried Nick, a heavy lad at 8 months, nearly 18kg!!

    Forgive me for reminiscing. I wanted, mostly, to say just how amazing I find your achievements, to have won races while pregnant, to continue straight after childbirth, to have your mother 'parachute' into the Paps with your child. Blimey lass, it's hard to believe!!! I found just backpacking around Jura and base-camping while knocking off the three Paps plus their smaller cousin quite tough enough in a casual walking/backpacking trip! Hats off to you and your excellent family - I wonder if you truly realise what a gift you have, all of it, partner, baby, mum, all that support and love, something not all of us had on our side while trying to pursue our outdoor/backpacking/mountain climbing dreams pre- and post babies..? You and yours seem blessed somehow, amazing fitness, all that energy!

    As a 62 year old with extensive osteo arthritis, multiple musculo-skeletal defects and Chronic Fatigue/M.E. (and frankly more than a little broken) - possibly all as a result of pushing myself so hard for so long - I wish you all the best for the future, and only flag up possible effects on your later life in order to place that thought somewhere you can retrieve it at some appropriate point down the line, and remind you just how many top-flight athletes succumb to all of the above...

    But you are so young - and who listens to advice at your age when your 50s and 60s appear to be so very far in the future ha ha! - and seem to be blessed with an abundance of luck, and I admire very much your accomplishments, long may you fly through the hills and glens of the world.

    Bob Phillips, Gairloch Jan 2019

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