Rule #9 Pick a Pocket.

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In February I ran my highest total mileage ever. I ran just over 200 miles. No surprise in that really, given I’m running in a 100k race in a few weeks. To run a long way you need to run a long way and my previous top tallies all fell in the weeks leading up to ultras too. This time around though, I also swam (a lot) and cycled (a bit.)

My tracker app now gives me the rather unnecessary count of how many hours I spend training. In my case I find this counterproductive as I begin to feel guilty about the time I’m away from my family. I wonder how I might have used the time in other ways. What else could I have achieved? What have I missed out on? What should I have been doing?

At last year’s Tri Expo I heard a talk by legendary athlete Steve Cram. He says we don’t make sacrifices we make choices. I agree but, when those choices impact on 5 other people you need to be able to justify them; primarily to yourself.

My training in February accounted for 44 hours and 35 minutes of my life. That’s almost 2 days! I reiterate, this is information I do not need! At the end of the day I’m a mum, a wife and I work. Running, swimming and cycling is a hobby. I ain’t no pro! So how do I fit in all those hours of training without social services taking my children, my husband packing his bags and getting a P45?

Ok, I know I’m lucky and my lot are a supportive bunch. On the one hand, they are sporty and know all about training to achieve goals. On the other, my kids don’t know any different. If mum or dad aren’t home they are probably out running somewhere. That’s life!  However, day to day we function in pretty much the same way as a regular family. We have the same demands for time (examples from this month have included parents meetings, emergency trips for new school shoes and sick days off school,) and we demand time too, (Saturday evening snuggles in front of trashy tv are important, right?)

Time is a precious commodity, it shouldn’t be wasted. There’s the old saying “it’s not about having time, it’s about making it,” more though, its about recognising  the vacuums. Why sit on a bus to work and back when I can cycle? Why wait around whilst the kids are at Brownies/Scouts/whatever when I can use that hour to train? How long will the roast potatoes take to cook? I’ll be back soon! I don’t have lots of spare time in my day but I do have pockets.

A few weeks ago one of my girls was running schools xc at a park 17 miles away. She travelled over there with dad; I ran there. I got a bit lost, got a 20 mile training run in and was at the start line to cheer her on. Do you think she missed out because I didn’t sit in the car for 20 minutes?

During half term I took the kids to the pool. They played together for an hour whilst I knocked out 2500m in the adjacent lane, then we went for milkshakes. They didn’t need me to ruin their cred or spoil their games!

Last week I ran 5 miles with the dog, dropped him home and ran another 5 to work. After work I ran home again. I wouldn’t have time mid-week to squeeze in a long run but do you think anyone in my family noticed I’d even run that day?

As parents we are hard-wired to neuroses and guilt. Who ever thinks they are doing a perfect job? It has been said to me many times (in jest, I hope,) “when do you ever see your kids?” The answer is “all the time!”

My way of training is not conventional and I’ve certainly not managed to follow a standard training plan yet. 17 days in February I did double sessions, morning and afternoon or evening, in order to get my miles in. I’m building endurance but I’m also trying my best not to let my training take over family life.

And as soon as I can work out how to disable the function on the app that monitors my hours spent, I will…I just don’t have the time.

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