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Mums run too!

by Supemum Cally
Thursday 23rd October 2014
Tags  Supermum Cally   |   Run Mummy Run   |   Bupa   |   Supermum

Run247 has got its very own Supermum joining the editorial team. Cally Shanley has just got back into running after a six year break, during which time she has had two girls (Amber, five and three quarter years old and Melody, one and three quarter years old) and started a new job

We are looking to get Supermum Cally to try out some of the latest products, review some of the races and generally tell us all about her journey back into the world of running.

Here is Cally to give you some background on her running history:

What was your motivation to take up running?

I took to running quite late in life, after an entire time at school dodging cross country, I was convinced that I couldn’t run and could not find one good thing about running.

That was until (at the age of 25) I started working for the charity Barnardos, on their Challenge Events team. I was responsible for recruiting runners to fundraise for us in return for places in events such as the London Marathon. I still remember standing in the post race party organised by Barnardos at the London Marathon and watching the runners coming in to a hero’s welcome and thinking, “if they can do it, why couldn’t I”?

From there I decided to enter the New York Marathon, partly because I wanted an excuse to visit NYC. I dressed as Britney Spears for the marathon and ran with my then boyfriend, now husband, who dressed as SpongeBob Squarepants. People don’t really dress up much for that marathon, compared to London anyway, and we were treated like celebrities, both beforehand and en route, with Good Morning America and other news channels wanting to interview us and people shouted ‘SpongeBob’ and ‘Britney’ the whole way round. Whilst the experience during the run was incredible, I remember how painful walking was in the following days and my shopping certainly took on a different pace to the one I had envisaged. Following New York I ran Chicago, which I think has to be my favourite race as the route is incredible, and then I got a ballot place for London.

Once I was accepted for London I decided that I would try our local running club, but I found it incredibly intimidating running with a group aiming for a certain pace and after just one visit, I didn’t go back.  I resigned myself to a solo training regimen, but as I love music, even my longest runs weren’t boring due to the endless playlists I created. I am also a bit of a data geek and soon grew very attached to my Garmin. As soon as I got in from work I would get into my running kit and get straight out for a run.

I followed the Hal Higdon training plan (HERE)  and by the time I waited on the start line, I was fairly confident of both my ability to finish and the pace I should be aiming for. The race went to plan and I finished in around 4 hours 20mins, which I was very happy with, my main aim having been not to walk. In the hours following the race though, I took a steep downhill turn for the worse and even on the train journey home, found myself attached to the toilet.

The next day I was no better, which was a surprise for me as I had done all the training and cross training, I ‘d practised with the gels I used on the day, so I wasn’t anticipating any problems.

A few weeks later I found out that I was pregnant and when I had my first scan it appeared I had been about 8 weeks pregnant when I ran London. Unfortunately I had an ignorant doctor who told me that I should not run anymore or risk all sorts of horrors, even more unfortunately, I listened to him. Then began my life without running.

Post Children

I’m not one of those people to who motherhood comes easy. I never seemed to find any space for myself outside of work and it took six years and two daughters for me to find my ‘space’ again.

This time what motivated me to start running again was something very different. On my commute into London each day for work, I noticed people looking at me hard, as if they were weighing up whether I was pregnant and should be offered a seat. Some people did offer me a seat and whilst nothing was ever said directly, this was enough to make me feel very uncomfortable.

I saw a long summer ahead of wanting to cover up in shapeless smocks rather than be comfortable in vests and shorts. It was then that I decided that things had to change.

The first run I did, I aimed to just cover a mile, it took over 12 minutes and I was shocked, but luckily stayed motivated and continued to aim to go out every other day. I started off doing a mile each time, then slowly built up to two, then three. In parallel to the running I started to use MyFitnessPal to track how many calories I was consuming and limited myself to the 1200 a day it said that I needed in order to lose weight. As the months went by the weight slowly came off and my distance and pace increased. Running started to become a habit again.

Recently I completed a 10k race, which (thanks to my dad as pacer) saw me achieve a PB way beyond anything I imagined possible when I started running again six months ago. I have also entered our local half marathon and am already embracing runs in the dark with high vis gear and a head torch. I aim to run four times a week and I’m trying to discover what I will be able to stick to in terms of cross training.

I’ve written my own training plan this time, one which I think will be realistic, given family life. I’m not sure that I want to go beyond half marathon distance at the moment, as whilst I do strongly believe that running makes me a better mum, I am not yet at peace with the idea of four hour training runs at the weekend, on one of the few days I get to spend with my children. When they are older, I am sure that marathons will be back on my race plan.

For now I’m just focusing on enjoying my runs, I use the time to listen to my favourite music (mostly from my 20’s), mull over work and parenting concerns, or plan days out or fun activities with my family.

Even if my run takes time that I would normally spend with my children, they are no poorer from it, as I am a very different (and hopefully better) mum for giving myself this time. I have been fortunate enough to discover an online community of mums who run at www.runmummyrun.co.uk, and whilst I’m still not sure a running club would be for me, I really enjoy the camaraderie that this group brings me. From shared stories of run frustrations, to product recommendations, this group of people certainly make me feel like part of a community that I would be reluctant to leave.

Bupa recently did a survey into mums that run and they found running makes you a Supermum!

The research found:

  • 79% of mums who run believe that running for 15 minutes a day improves their parenting.
  • 65% of running mums find it easy to juggle everyday tasks vs 43% of non-running mums who said they struggle
  • 40% of mums who run feel full of energy during an average day, compared to just 13% of mums who don’t run
  • 30% of mums who don’t run feel routinely stressed, however 40% of running mums said they can manage their stress levels
  • Running Mums spend more quality time with their kids, averaging 2-3 hours compared to non-running mums who only have one hour

For me, this research is incredibly accurate. When I look back on myself before I started running again, I don’t see such a positive role model for my children, whereas now, I am proud when they notice I am wearing my running kit as I put them to bed and am hopeful that sometime soon, they will ask to join me.

For a mum looking to get into running I would say firstly, you need to be ready to give yourself space. What I mean by that is that you need to feel confident that you can leave your children with someone else and that it will not overly upset them (and you).

For me that took 16 months with my second child, but for others it will possibly be much sooner (or longer). If you can find others to run with, ideally friends, but even an online running community who will motivate and support you, then you will be more likely to keep going, even on the days that running feels like the hardest thing ever.

You will ALWAYS have days when running feels like the hardest thing ever, even when you run all the time. You will also have days where running feels like the most natural thing you could be doing and you could go on forever - these are the days that I feel like Supermum.

Click here to find out more about Bupa's research


About The Author

Supermum Cally

Run247 has got its very own Supermum joining the editorial team. Cally Shanley has just got back into running after a six year break, during which time she has had two girls (Amber, five and three quarter years old and Melody, one and three quarter years old) and started a new job

We are looking to get Supermum Cally to try out some of the latest products, review some of the races and generally tell us all about her journey back into the world of running.

You can follow Cally on Twitter @runsupermum


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