Reader To Reader: Help, I'm Going To Be A Dad!

Does parenthood have to get in the way of your running? Here's what you thought...

Posted: 25 November 2006
by Jane Hoskyn

This week, one RW member is about to become a new dad. Great news – but how will parenthood affect his running?

"I'm about to become a first-time dad in a month, and wondered how other new parents found it affected their running. Obviously time will be more limited, and sleepless nights may be a factor, but I would still like to have some "me" time. Will this be possible, or am I being selfish by thinking this way? Please share your experiences and advice."

Your best answers...

  • I have a great four-and-a-half-year-old daughter. I didn't start running until she was three, mainly because I was getting fatter. My family come and watch me run every race, and my daughter loves the routes with laps so she can wave more than once – I even try to wave back if I have any energy left. I've come to appreciate the effect that my running has on the little one. She sees exercise as something people do and sees the training effort before the races. She also sees me never win but always look happy. It's a great incentive. Running is great for you AND your family, as long as you're willing to be flexible about when you run and make sure family still comes first. – NeilMc
  • I was a runner before my first child was born three years ago. All my usual routines went out the window, including sleeping at night and eating decent meals. My weight sky-rocketed and did no running for several months, and I developed ulcers from the weight and stress from lack of sleep and overwork. This was a real shock, so I went on a strict diet and started running again, and six months later I was running sub-1:45 half marathons. When my second child was born, I was better prepared. I avoided comfort food and made special time in my life to run. It's amazing the difference an hour or so running on a Sunday morning can make to your physical and mental fitness. After six months I ramped up the running. I had no weight gain this time and was generally a lot happier. – Andrew R
  • It is all about compromise. Mr Tweety is not a runner, but he tells me to go out for a run and looks after mini Tweety (aged 3) and I take her when he takes his son (aged 11) to the cinema. Running gives me time to myself and keeps the baby blubber off. Offer to look after baby while your wife has a lie-in or a bath, and she looks after the baby while you go for a run – I guarantee she'll jump at the chance! – tweetywhoateallthepies?
  • Fatherhood was the second best thing that ever happened to me, after breaking three hours! You each need to make time for yourself, but you need to bear in mind that your other half will need support too – and she'll definitely need some me-time herself, so disappearing out of the door when you come home from work and she's had a bad day may not be appreciated. Above all, enjoy it. Being a dad is the brilliant experience. So is breaking three hours, though... – Grendel
  • You're certainly not being selfish – especially as you'll be providing your child with a healthy, fit role model in years to come. I wasn't a runner when Lyra Junior was born (she's 4.5 now), but, when babies are very little, they do sleep a fair bit during the day. You'll need to work around little Miss/Master Zip at first, until you can establish a routine. – Lyra
  • Buy a three-wheeler so you can take the baby running. This also means Mrs Zip will get some time off. Babies love going out and will probably sleep the whole time. Everyone's a winner! We have a five-month-old daughter and bought an Out N About Nipper soon after she was born. We found these are better than the original baby jogger, because baby can go in them from birth. It is a bit more like hard work pushing the baby, but I can still manage 10 miles – and my half marathon time has improved by 10 minutes. – starky
  • If you do have to take some time off running to support Mrs Zip or because you're just plain exhausted, please hold on to the fact that it does get easier. I've got four children and wasn't awake enough to run until the youngest was well past her third birthday. – Velociraptor
  • I have a three-year-old boy and a daughter who is 21 months. My running tends to be done after their bedtime in the evening. I run two or three evenings a week for 5-10 miles, plus a run and MTB session at the weekend – but if I want four hours to myself, then my wife is entitled to the same time back. Also, be ready to rock n' roll as soon as you get the all clear. I'm pretty much in constant readiness to run. – Craig Llewellyn
  • We are expecting our first little Lardy on 8 December, so I know what you're going through. I am hoping to do the FLM in April, but I think the key is to be flexible. The marathon will always be there. It's not selfish to want your own time, but it is selfish if it is at the expense of Mrs Z, so you need to compromise. One tip I heard: if you run in the evenings, get changed into your kit as soon as you get in from work. Then you can wash, feed, cuddle the baby and do what new dads do to give Mrs Z a break; then, when all is hunky dory, you can shoot off for your run. – lardass
  • It's about finding a balance that suits you both. I took up running as way of getting fit when Stoat 3 was six months old. Now I just juggle my runs around rest of family. It's harder now that they're older, as we have to fit round their social and sporting activities. – Stoat
  • My monsters are coming up three and eight months, and I still run. I have to or I would go insane. Getting out the door at 5am before they wake up is one way; lunchtime runs are another, and last resort is after they've gone to bed, but that's cutting into "adult" time – and Mrs DD and I need that to remain sane. (Best feeling in the world? Crossing the finish line of a marathon with your kids in your arms.) – Dubai Dave
  • I didn't run when STS Jr was born. She's now six, and getting time to myself can still be awkward. To minimise disruption to the family life, I do the majority of my running from work during lunch. Luckily there is a shower on-site. You could also look at a child-seat for a bike to give you some more time out exercising and Mrs Zip some time off – or you could all go together as a family. – Scoff the Sloth
  • When my kids were babies, I can remember getting really worried if their dad wasn't home when he said he would be. I think motherhood brought out the anxiety in me! So if you go out running, stick to routes that are close to home and tell Mrs Zip when you'll be home. There's nothing worse than having a baby crying for no good reason, and not knowing when Daddy is coming home. – black hat
  • You should be OK for running in the first three months, as they tend to just eat and sleep. The problem will be the disturbed nights. My first slept the night at six months, my second took a bit longer. That was the killer for me. I started running with the baby buggy when my first was about five months old and in a bit of a routine. That was great and got me seriously back into things. – Spess
  • Try really early morning runs after settling the babe down with a 4.30am feed. Remember to take a mobile with you and choose a route that lets you get home quickly if you need to. I have four of the little darlings, so I try to extend my work lunch for regular training. Best advice is to be flexible and don't get to hung up on me-time. – pastie postie
  • I'm about to go through it for the second time. I found it easiest to run home from work, because I've always found it quite difficult to get motivated to go out again after getting home and spending time with my family. Also make sure your partner doesn't mind and that they get some time to themselves. – Andrew B
  • We're expecting number four next July. The transition from no kids to one child is a fundamental upheaval, and you'll need to be realistic about the amount of me-time you can expect. To be honest, I didn't do much exercise for a couple of years after the first was born (now six). You need to be ruthlessly disciplined to make the most of every opportunity – for example, if mother and child are having a half-hour nap, then get straight out for a three-miler. Now I do most of my running at lunchtime so as not to eat in to family time at home. It helped to join a club to have the discipline/excuse of a regular night for training. Encourage your children in your enthusiasm for your sport and healthy approach to life. Your positive role model for them will be worth a great deal over the long term – children of active parents are active and more healthy themselves. – Ex-pat Scot
  • That hour-and-a-half run on Sunday morning sets me up for the rest of the day. You can deal with anything if you're mentally well, even sleepless nights. – Acorn Ambler
  • I deferred my place in FLM 2006 because my son was due in February. I'd harboured an illusion that I was fit enough to incorporate sleep deprivation into the routine, but I talked myself out of it and am so glad I did. My son's first three months were the biggest shock to the system I could imagine. Every possible aspect of your life is fundamentally altered... including your running, I'm afraid. Let it take a back seat, and enjoy being a dad. Your legs aren't going to drop off! – TheSpike

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Discuss this article

Am about to become a first time dad in about a month and just wondered through your experiences how it affected your running. I appreciate that obviously time will be more limited and also sleepless nights may also be a factor but I would still like to have some ME time. Will this be possible or am I being selfish by thinking this way??? Please share your experiences and advice.
Posted: 15/11/2006 at 16:43

Firstly, Zip, HUGE congratulations and best wishes to you and Ms Zip!!

Wasn't a runner when Lyra Junior was born (she's 4.5 now), but when babies are very little, they do sleep a fair bit during the day. You will need to work around little Miss or Master Zip to begin with until you can establish a bit of a routine.

You're certainly not being selfish! Especially as you will be providing your child with a healthy, fit role model in years to come.

All the best!
Posted: 15/11/2006 at 16:55

Zip, as long as you help out and share the sleepless nights AND allow new mummy HER ME time, you will get YOUR me time too, its all,about balance and sharing, enjoy being a parent.
Posted: 15/11/2006 at 16:56

Congratulations - the second best thing that ever happened to me after breaking 3 hours for the first time – (OH gets the hump over that comment as she thinks I should say meeting and marrying her!)

You each need to make time for yourself – but you need to bear in mind that OH will need support too – and will definitely need some me time herself so disappearing out of the door when you come home from work and she has had a cr*p day may not be appreciated. I don’t run anymore (although can jog) but that is more to do with a long term injury

Above all enjoy it – being dad is the brilliant experience (so is breaking 3 hours though)

Posted: 15/11/2006 at 17:06

LOL at Grendel! As a runner, I understand that entirely. As a woman, I think OH is right to get the hump ;-)
Posted: 15/11/2006 at 17:09

In some way maybe you are right Lyra, but trained so hard for that and I never believed I would ever do that as I just didn’t have the natural talent for it – I suppose I always assumed I would get married and have children – I never thought I’d break 3 hours – it was such a high –

Totally off the subject so back on it

It is a brilliant experience and love being Dad despite the tears and tantrums (he's 3 now) and the sleepless nights and the nights in the spare bed with him because he wants to sleep in with me! - good luck again

Posted: 15/11/2006 at 17:16

Grendel, there is somehow more conscious effort involved in running; with the whole conception, pregnancy, childbirth thing your body just does its thing. Running involves WAY more mental effort somehow. IMHO.

Found the 2nd and 3rd months of being a parent really tough - all those long car drives just trying to stop the crying! Apparently that is normal and when baby gets to 3 months old, things just seem to get easier.

Zip, have you thought about getting one of those prams you can run with?
Posted: 15/11/2006 at 17:23

Yeah, have seen those things and they look quite good. I am sure that things willwork out and like you have said the key is balance and making sure that Mrs Zip and the baby take priority. It just annoys me when all I seem to hear is negative stuff like " Oh you wait till you have kids - you'll see" and "Oh thats your life over with now" blah blah blah. Don't get me wrong I know there will be some massive changes and extra stress all round but surely there will be windows of opportunity to get out the house. Isn't running the perfect stress relief anyway - thats my ecyse anyway!!! I am hoping to do FLM 2007 and having done it for the first time this year realise that it takes a huge amount of your time so maybe emulating Grendel sub 3 is out the question (Did 3.42). great advice though guy's much appreciated, especially from a womans perspective too.
Posted: 15/11/2006 at 17:32

No one can describe the utter joy of your

child giggling for the first time

taking their first steps (and you feeling so proud)

giving the magic kiss and making it all better (that worked for all of us)

"Mamma" or "Dadda" for the first time

the first smile at you (that is not wind)

you being able to stop the tears

and being so proud of your wife for giving you such a beautifil child.

Posted: 15/11/2006 at 17:38

Thanks King...
Posted: 15/11/2006 at 18:03

kids are soo worth it. best and most scariest thing you will ever have. So sweet and snuggly! started to get my son running at 7 and he loves my daughter thinks its pointless to run your heart out for a poxy medal and not even a chocolate bar! she's 4 though so lots of attitude! and wants to be a doctor? bit scary!
Posted: 15/11/2006 at 20:36

Congratulations, Zip :o)

Carving out some me-time for both yourself and Mrs Zip should be straightforward provided you don't make the mistake of letting yourselves be outnumbered by your children ;o)

If you DO have to take some time off running to support Mrs Zip or because you're just plain exhausted, please hold on to the fact that it DOES get easier. It really does.

I've got 4 children and wasn't awake enough to run until the youngest was well past her third birthday.
Posted: 15/11/2006 at 21:04

Many, many congratulations.

One of my biggest running highs was crossing the line with my three year old at the end of the mini Great North Run. She managed the whole mile on her own two feet, and when she crossed the line I swept her up and felt tears in my eyes.

As has been said above, it's about balance. No reason at all why you can't find time for yourself as well as enjoying the joys of fatherhood and supporting Mrs Zip. And, if you can combine the two some day, it's magic.

Posted: 15/11/2006 at 21:17

Congratulations Zip!

When my kids were babies, i can remember getting really worried if DH wasnt home when he said he would be...i think motherhood brought out the anxiety in me! So, if you go out running, maybe stick to routes that are close to home, and tell Mrs Zip where you are going, and when you will be home, and then make sure you are....there is sometimes nothing worse than having a baby crying, for no good reason, and not knowing when daddy is coming home!

Enjoy your baby! It is such an exciting time!
Posted: 15/11/2006 at 21:20

Zip.. your life is over...

The little buggers will drain you of all your energy.. empty your bank account.. deprive you of sleep.. you can forget ever having a sex life again.. your childless friends will stop calling.. your newly painted walls will have felt-tip pen srawled over them.. you will find baby sick on your clothes 30 seconds before you go to work, or (even worse) when you arrive at work.. you will understand just how far projectile vomit can travel in a car and just how much stitching your leather upholstery has when you try to clean out it.. your 4 year will ask in a clearly audible voice in Sainsburys "why is that lady fat?", pointing to the lady in the next aisle..

All these things and much, much more...

Is it worth it...??

Of course it is.. :)

I have two and wouldn't change these things for anything... :)

Best of luck.. run when you can, be flexible and maintain your sense of humour through it all...


Posted: 16/11/2006 at 06:37

Ahhh, the joy of being a dad for the first time. I went home after my little girl was born and had a shower and bubbled like a baby, I was so overcome with emotion.

For all those of us with 2 or more babies/toddlers/under 5's - How annoying is it to talk to new parents with one baby and they say how they have no time to do anything and are always tired!! You want to hold them by the shoulders and shout "GIVE ME A BREAK, YOU DONT KNOW HOW EASY YOU HAVE IT".

Phew, where did that come from? I'll get my coat.....

Posted: 16/11/2006 at 07:21

I also wanted to say being a dad and trying your best is the true defenition of being a man.
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 07:24

What a lovely and funny thread.

Loved Dark Vaders comments!

Exactly how I would put it.
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 07:39

Couldn't agree more with all that has been said - its about finding a balance that suits you both, I can remember a torrid time when S3 was a baby and Mr S had nipped out for a pint(it was singular) and then pick up takeaway on Saturday night, she was driving me mad and in the end I snapped and rang him on mobile carping on about him being off enjoying himself and me at home etc etc - when I had finished ranting he calmly told me that he had been waiting for takeaway for half an hour and wasn't having much fun either!

That said I took up running when S3 was 6 monts old as way of getting fit now and just juggle my runs around rest of family - its harder now they are older as we have to fit round their social and sporting activities - I did get day pass out on Sunday to run Slog - no wonder I enjoyed it.

Best of luck - and enjoy them!!
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 08:19

I once rang my husband and held the phone to the screaming babe's face (for him to really appreciate) whilst I cried


Sadly his boss had answered it for him cause he was busy.

Apparently he just passed it straight to husband saying 'I think this is for you'
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 09:09

Bit harsh there perhaps, Kev?
Not saying I disagree with you, but when you first became a Dad were you thinking, 'This is SO much easier than having two' ?
I bet you wouldn't have appreciated being told that you had it easy.

Posted: 16/11/2006 at 09:30

When our eldest was born it was the height of the "Ritual sex abuse" business, and we were living in the North East where it was all (allegedly) happening.

Because of Mrs FR's condition the baby was put on a "high risk" register, and various harpies and harridens from Social Services made it their business to remove the child. I spent so much time overturning cauldrens and setting fire to broomsticks that I didn't have time to go running.

But it was a joyful time, and Mrs FR turned out to be the most wonderfully attentive mother and I did get back to running eventually.
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 09:40

What a lovely thread this is!

Congratulations Zip - you'll have the best Christmas present.
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 09:51

Ah, I wish someone had told me the following before I had my daughter: you may not *instantly* love your baby. Like all relationships love takes time to grow. I spent quite some time thinking I must have been a dreadful mother for not being all dippy and loved-up with the 8lb bundle of noise I had spent 5 hours of horrific pain bringing into the world. If ever you find yourself thinking like that, relax, it will all be fine.

Just thought I'd mention.

Posted: 16/11/2006 at 09:53

They do stop crying eventually:-)
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 10:21

Yep then they're teenagers and ..........well .......interesting
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 10:26

My 18 month old boy (whose is the best) wakes up every morning between 5.00am and 6.00am and always has. Some days you want to strangle him but he is in such a great mood when he wakes up its hard to be unhappy for more than 30 seconds.

My daughter is almost 4 and I was looking after her alone on Saturday night as my wife had a few days in Bath. My daughter would not sleep so I left her in her room playing. At 9.00pm I thought I better go and get her settled (for the 5th time). I walked in and she had got hold of some nail varnish and she had painted her fingers, feet and all around her eyes!! What a fright I got and spent the next 30 minutes carefully cleaning the varnish of her eyelids and eye lashes. The next day I could still see the purple shade when she blinked.

Our 3rd is due in May.....
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 11:30


Posted: 16/11/2006 at 11:31

Anything more than 2 and you no longer have man-to-man marking. The overlap calls for different defensive tactics;-)

Posted: 16/11/2006 at 11:36

I have three and have never been the same since!
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 11:37

Mine are 11,9 and 7. It feels like the eye of the storm.
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 11:38

Try 14,10 and 3 (eldest is female - can you feel the hormones!)

Always be afraid when it goes quiet it inevitably means chaos. My girls (S1 and 3) share a room, S1 is very messy and leaves stuff lying around, S3 thinks make-up is great art materials especially on the carpet!!
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 11:53

That's what I mean by the eye of the storm, Stoat - no toddlers and no teenagers.
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 12:50

I have 3 wonderful children

and 2 others

I don't run much.
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 13:27

Run around the unofficial taxi service!!!!
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 13:44


This thread has proved to be more popular than I imagined and has thrown up some great stories and advice. Not sure if I am more relaxed about it all or more worried!!! Love the stuff about nail varnish and projectile vomit and kids generally being a pain but trust me mine will be a little angel - Yeah right.

I am currently work shifts , which could work in my favour or against in this argument and Mrs. Zip is taking a year off work so the windows should be there, I mean windows of opportunity to run not to throw the baby out of..

The more I think about all this the more I think that I am being really selfish but I love running, not more than I will love my kid but you know. I started running when I quit smoking over 2 years ago and I am adamant that whilst I still run I will not have the temptation to go back onto the sticks cos I still do miss the cigs.. Ah, just trying to get my stories ready for Mrs. Zip.

keep the advice coming, it is priceless and I will keep you updated on the divorce proceedings...... Thanks
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 16:45

I have 4, all girls, all under 9 and OH runs too.
You manage!
Congratulations and Good Luck
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 18:58

What Kev says is true - 2 kids is twice as hard as one, a third is just as hard again - one can't fight with itself non-stop all day whereas more than one can and usually will. It's great for developing patience though and really is the best thing.

FR - in those ritual sex abuse case times my partner's neighbours (well her parents neighbours as she was still living at home then) were suspects in one case. I remember my partner's dad leaning on his garden fence and asking the neighbour "what's all this about your family and satanic abuse then Tony" - I nearly choked but he seemed to take it OK as if it were an everyday question - though anyone that knows Somercotes might think it probably is. Later we took a couple of calls from the News of the World because the neighbours didn't have a phone and gave the paper my partners number. All got cleared in the end though.
Posted: 16/11/2006 at 19:13

My advise is to buy a 3 wheeler so you can take the baby running. This also means Mrs Zip will get some time off, babies love going out and will probably sleep the whole time and you get to have a run. Everyone a winner! We have a 5 month old daughter and bought an Out N About Nipper soon after she was born. We found these are better than the original baby jogger cause baby can go in from birth.
It is a bit more like hard work pushing the baby but i can still manage 10 miles and my half marathon time has improved by 10 minutes.
Posted: 19/11/2006 at 16:09

if you want to make time for running then try the Gina Ford method. & days into fatherhood its working for me.
Posted: 19/11/2006 at 16:17

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