By Clare Jennings
After the birth of my second child, I was desperate to return to running and determined to lose my baby weight. Running, for me, is a past time that not only offers the chance to improve my fitness and drop a few pounds, it’s also my opportunity to clear my mind and shed the stresses of the day.
I started running in my early twenties, originally in a bid to lose a bit of extra weight and raise a bit of money for charity by completing a 5k race. Little did I know when started that first sweaty, breathless mile that it would lead to a little love affair between myself and the great outdoors, and running for (would you believe it?) fun, and that ten years later I would be running marathons.
But my hobby – my passion – took a backseat with my two pregnancies. Juggling family life, a job and a husband working away, brought its own demands and my priorities shifted (quite rightly) to focusing on my children and not pounding the streets for a therapeutic 10k. I tried to fill the gap with home workout DVDs and Pinterest fitness programmes when the kids were in bed, but none could quite achieve the same buzz and results as running.
Advice from a personal trainer
So after my youngest son was born, I sought the advice of a personal trainer to think about ways to achieve my fitness goals whilst balancing my motherly duties. And it was she who suggested buggy running.
It was this suggestion that has led to some of the happiest times of my life. The first buggy run was interesting to say the least. A tall, overweight woman in hi-viz running clothes running with baby in a pram and a toddler on a buggy board was bound to attract some attention! However, by the time we reached the park, with a pit-stop for a quick swing and slide, any self-consciousness I had felt had quickly melted away. Here I was indulging my two main interests – running and spending time with my kids.
Pretty soon I was running with my buggy everywhere and upgraded to a secondhand double running buggy from eBay. The nursery run became exactly that, and trips to the shop were an excuse for some incidental exercise. The guilt of taking time out for myself was gone, because here I was in the great outdoors, chatting to my little ones, stopping at parks, bakeries and farm animals en route, spurred on by positive and encouraging reactions from passers by. It became less about losing weight and more about being a good example and having fun.
Children can run too!
Over time, my toddler grew (as they tend to do) and sitting in the buggy was no longer an option for him, so once again our running slowed to a near halt. But now he wanted to join in, running for himself, running with mummy. My now four year old has an enviable collection of medals from a variety of children’s 1k and 1 mile races. He now runs for fun, never bothered about winning, but smiling throughout the taking part. Now he has started school and learned to ride a bike and his younger brother is in a single running buggy (another eBay bargain), so we scoot/cycle/walk and jog the short distance to school and back.
I love the experiences and memories that buggy running has brought to our lives – and whilst the buggy will eventually disappear, I hope that our time outdoors together will continue as my children grow older.