Running after birth: ‘I had to make every session count’

Photo by Stuart Hendry

'I've always loved to run. It started off at school and when I was in my 20s I ran on treadmills in the gym, but nothing challenged me as much as running outside.

Once I’d got back into that, I joined Ilkeston Running Club in 2006. I loved the club runs and the social side, too. I even met my husband, John, a fellow runner, there. He helped me train for my first half marathon and soon I dipped under two hours.

My first daughter, Amy, was born by caesarean section and I could hardly wait to return to running, which I did 12 weeks later. But that first run was so slow and hard. Then I found I couldn’t run regularly because my life was now so hectic. I tried other activities, such as swimming, aqua aerobics and Zumba, but none of them gave me the same buzz as running did.

After we had Grace it seemed even less likely that I would get out running. But when she was 18 months old, John and I decided we were both determined to get back to it, so we came up with a plan. I would run on Saturdays while he did Sundays. We both went back to the Ilkeston club runs on Thursdays while the grandparents looked after the girls.

I squeezed a 10K run into my lunch hour at work on Tuesdays, too. It was a real juggling act, but it worked. My training was much more focused because I had less time, so I had to make every session count. And that meant my times were much better than before I had my girls. I knocked almost 15 minutes off my half-marathon PB, as well as running faster 10Ks and 5Ks. I think I’m much stronger, too. After undergoing an emergency caesarean as well as giving birth naturally, I tell myself running is never going to be as hard as that. I now want to tackle a marathon.

Running is definitely tougher to fit in once you have had children. But I’m getting as much, if not more, enjoyment out of it now than I ever did. And I’m faster, too.’