When I entered the ballot for the 2019 London Marathon I don’t think I really expected to get in. I’ve entered now for a number of years and I assumed that this year, as in previous ones, I’d receive the ‘sorry not this time’ email and, with feelings of disappointment and relief in equal measures, I’d shrug it off and plan to enter again next time around. I suppose at the back of my mind was the thought/fear that the year I gave birth would be the year I also finally made the cut, and of course, that’s what happened.
So I now have a dilemma: on the one hand this is a race I’ve wanted to take part in since becoming a “runner” (of sorts). As a Londoner there is something totally iconic and wonderful about the London Marathon and the atmosphere on the day is incredible. On the other hand I have a sea of doubts and questions over whether I’ll have the time, energy and support to train for a marathon? Do I risk doing damage to my body by running so soon after undergoing major abdominal surgery and while pumped full of relaxin from breastfeeding? Is it fair on my husband for me to spend hours at the weekend out on long runs while he looks after our baby? And am I prepared to take that time away from my daughter who, at the moment, I can barely leave for half an hour at a time?
I am also aware that I’m not running the same engine as I was pre-pregnancy. I’m heavier now, with a squishy tummy, some abdominal separation and milk-filled breasts! Nor am I getting the same quantity or quality of sleep that I was.
Yet while I know I could defer my place for a year, something inside me is reluctant to take this ‘out’. Having a target is such good motivation to get me on the road, and the London Marathon is certainly a good target! Moreover, running makes me happy and I love the sense of satisfaction after a Sunday long run, particularly as I watch my mileage creep up into double figures. At the moment, running is also one of the only times when I’m on my own. I love my daughter more than words can express, but when you can’t go to bed, take a shower or even go to the toilet (sorry for the overshare!) without a set of beady eyes watching you, the value of having some alone time is not to be underestimated!
My husband is also infinitely supportive. He knows how happy going for a run makes me and how, in turn, that happiness makes me a better wife and mother.
So for now I’ve paid my entry fee and have a place guaranteed. My plan is to rebuild my strength and fitness over the next couple of months, gradually increasing my weekly mileage and continuing with a range of activities from swimming and yoga to the Warrior Mums repair and Buggy Belles cardio classes (which I can do together with my daughter), and then reviewing the situation again in December. My target is to be comfortably running 10 miles by the end of the year so I am in a good place to start formal training come January.
I will keep you updated on my progress and would love to hear your thoughts and advice on postpartum marathon training, running as a mum and managing multiple priorities. Also if you have a place for the 2019 London Marathon do get in touch – if I make it that far it would be great to have some friendly faces on the start line on the day!