ASK THE ELITE Sinead Diver competes in the 1500m, 5000m, 10,000m and half-marathon distances. She is the 2012 Australian Half Marathon Champion and 2012 Victorian 10,000m Champion. Sinead gave birth to her second child in September.
I’m a mother of two, I work in IT and I’m a distance runner competing at the elite level. A common question I get asked by other mothers is where I find the time to train. Being a mum is a full time job especially when you have a newborn on board! I gave birth to my second son last September and if I thought life was busy before then, well, it just got a whole lot busier.
Recently I resumed training after an extended period off and although it’s quite challenging I wanted to share a few tips that I hope will help other mums who are struggling to fit training into an already busy lifestyle.
- Running – Great Choice! One of the many benefits of running is that you can run anywhere and at any time. All you need is a pair of shoes and off you go! This often makes it the perfect sport to fit into a busy family lifestyle.
- Prioritise. Life is busy. We seem adept at cramming as much as we can into each and every day and before we know it we’re running around doing a million things and nothing is getting done properly. Every now and then we need to take stock, reflect on what’s important to us and press pause on everything else. This was a major challenge for me & for a while I tried to juggle everything. The end result was that I spread myself too thinly, became exhausted, stressed and achieved very little. I learned from this and as hard as it was, I made a decision that for now, my priorities are my family and my running and this is where I will focus my energy. Everything else is secondary and can be put on hold for a while.
- Be organised – but be flexible. Regardless of how much you’ve got on your plate, I believe it’s a good idea to make a training plan. It’s important to outline your goals and identify what you want to achieve but it’s also essential to be flexible with it. Family life can be very unpredictable and an inability to adapt will result in more missed sessions than not. I generally outline what I need to achieve each week (e.g. a quality session, long run, tempo run) and then, I fit it in when I can. Whenever the opportunity arises, I’m out the door for a run and it helps to know what I’ve already achieved that week and what’s outstanding.
- Build a Support Group. Juggling a lot of tasks simultaneously can be tough and there will be times when it all seems too much. Getting a helping hand every now and then from family and friends can make a big difference. You can also gain a lot of support from training with a group. Often friends who don’t run think you’re a little bit crazy for training as much as you do! Sometimes the greatest support is just having like-minded people to talk to who understand the lure of the running world.
- Find ways to include your children in training. Running with a stroller, running with your child on a bike, doing exercises in the park, going to “mums & bubs” classes are all great ways to include your kids in training. I love to bring my sons along for my easy runs and they really enjoy it. It’s a wonderful activity for us all to do together and a great way to increase my weekly mileage without having to worry about organising a baby sitter.
- Embrace the “Me Time”. Mothers often feel guilty about spending time away from their children. It’s how we’re hotwired! But I think it’s healthy for every mum to have some time for themselves. Along with the many physical benefits of running there are many emotional and mental benefits as well. I do a lot of thinking on my easy runs, it gives me the time and space I need to reflect, reset and unwind.
There is no such thing as a perfect balance and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Hopefully these tips will help some of you to find a better balance and get you on the road to achieving your running goals.