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


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."
Zip

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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