Category Archives: children

Freejumping fun!

Oxygen Freejumping (Southampton)

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Three humanoids, the girl variety. Can be tetchy, moody, irritable… explosive. Six weeks of a loooong, hot summer (well, OK not always hot but sometimes), where the days stretched forever and an hour could pass as slowly as the UK leaving the European Union.

Taking action
What do you do with the young creatures… you’ve done the beach, the shops, the library, the pool, dropping off with relatives, the forest, the beach again, and again… There comes a time in every mother’s summer holidays that you need… something else. Something more. When your children have so much natural energy that 16 hours of gymnastics, and five nights of dancing doesn’t reduce them to sleepy, passive snuggle-bugs that you can look at and think: “Awwwww, they’re just so cute…”

Amelie on the jumping wall

Amelie on the jumping wall

That despite of their activities they still rampage through your day/week/month as if they are trolls on 24-an-hour-day energy drinks. That’s when it’s time to stop. Think. Drive… drive as far as you have to… and take them to a trampoline park. We have these dotted all over the south, and there are now four, yes FOUR beautiful destinations in our locale where you can simply hand over your hard-earned dosh and let your children bounce until they can bounce no more. Though now it’s called freejumping.

Oxygen in Southampton reached out to me – yes, they knew. They knew my children’s natural birth defect is hyperactivity. Who told them? I don’t know. But there’s an uncanny way that people and places come into your life. It’s a supernatural divination… you find them, they find you. You like them and they like you. Destiny’s child am I, and if more than one person recommends something to me (a book, a Netflix orgininal, a country) I hear fate knocking at my door and I let it in. So we found ourselves on our way to Oxygen.

Let’s go back a year to the first exposure we had to the full-grown trampoline temples that we were to visit. As a family we were never going to be by-passed by this latest craze. Two dancers and one gymnast meant that as soon as any random child at one of the clubs/dance schools had tested out a trampoline park it wouldn’t take long for one of my girls to be nagging me to give it a go. We drove for nearly an hour to get to one the first time… yep, if energy has to be burnt sometimes you have to go a long way to do it. It was fun, exciting – sweaty – and really worthwhile, but, hey, can we have one of these places built a lot closer to home please trampoline business entrepreneurs?

And then about six months later another one appeared in the next city due east. Yes! Forget about the girls, I was so excited… a new place to take them and their need to burn energy every single day. Would they have coffee and wifi? We didn’t go on the opening day, we waited until the next day so that there wouldn’t be any queues. “What did you think?” I asked #2 and #3 on that day. Would it be good enough to pass their high level of expectation? “Pretty good,” #3 replied.

“I still want to try Oxygen in Southampton,” #2 said. What, another one? I rushed home, googled it and knew we had a purpose in life – another trampoline park to try, and this one even closer to our house. Only 20 minutes in the car. Bonus. Then everything else got in the way and it didn’t quite happen as soon as I thought it would, and then the summer holidays started. It was on my mental list of things to do. Like every summer holiday we’ve had together, I never quite managed to fit in everything I planned, so we headed over to Oxygen in the last week. It was our summer finale.

Amelie trying the back jumping wall… it was harder than it looked.


Do any children not like bouncing? I’m sure somewhere in the world there is a child who doesn’t but I don’t think we should take one out of billions as proof that your little bundle of love isn’t going to have a good time at Oxygen, or any other trampoline park near you.

I didn’t see anyone stropping, grizzling, whining or crying – and there were quite a few adults also having fun. I was offered the choice of bouncing too, but just giggled… the manager on duty had no idea how inflexible my back is, or how niggly my knees are. The last time I tried ice-skating my knees ached for weeks. No I had the pleasure of taking myself off for a lovely coffee and reading my book in the café while my girls burnt zillions of energy atoms to a crisp.
The only criticism the girls had at the end was not being allowed to do backflicks. There were signs on every wall saying this was not allowed. For them this was a shame as the other trampoline parks don’t enforce this rule. As they are gymnasts doing backflicks is second nature, so being on long strips of bouncy material and not being able to do them was annoying for them. You can explain it’s a safety issue, but at their age they just want to flip out (front flips are OK).

But I’ll let them speak for themselves…


It’s really easy to book your session online at Oxygen, they host birthday parties, there’s wifi if you want it, and if you’re little ones are under 5 there’s a Little O’s session just for them. Families with both under and over 5s can jump together during Family Bounce. And if your kids want more there’s a freerunning academy and school of trampolining to help them progress their skills. If it’s your fist time it’s a good idea to get your kids to wear shorts and t-shirts, too, as it doesn’t take long for them to overheat!

Freejumping makes children happy!

Freejumping makes children happy!

Will we be going back? I’m sure we will be making many, many trips to this uber-modern temple of fun.

Oxygenfreejumping.co.uk

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#Week 17: The Road to London

Is next week really race day? How can that be? It seems so long ago I started training for London, the week before Christmas. Then I couldn’t project forward to April 24th, and now it’s just over a week away. Overall my training has gone much better than I would have thought it would back then, despite the hiccup of three weeks out with an injury.

Finally it's light - and we can see each other again

Finally it’s light – and we can see each other again

I didn’t want to do much running as it was a really busy week. I went up to the London Book Fair on Wednesday, to meet the publishers of my book (out in the autumn). That was exciting! Also Sienna had a competition on Sunday and my other two girls, Amelie and Lola, had extra rehearsals for a show they are doing in the Albert Hall next month. I was a taxi supremo!

Checking out the competition

Checking out the competition

Monday I made club and it was a tough session of long hill reps, with fartlek through the first section of each rep. I worked hard knowing it would be my last effort session before marathon day. There’s no slacking in Coach Penny’s sessions!

Testing my new Bliz glasses - it rained!

Testing my new Bliz glasses – it rained!

Tuesday I had a long overdue leg massage, which I knew would hurt as I don’t think I’ve had a massage since last year. Oops. Wednesday flew by and Thursday it was our first club time trial of the year. I didn’t want to overdo the effort so ran comfortably, then jogged home after. Friday was my group and we did 6 x 2 mins along the promenade at the beach. It was raining and miserable but we kept smiling.

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Saturday and Sunday were rest days, and the weekend ended on a high when Professor Pog came second in the southern region National Grade 4 competition, which means she will be representing Team South in the national finals! Whoop whoop! We’re going on a road trip… to Stoke!

Pre-competition meal to help Sienna carb load

Pre-competition meal to help Sienna carb load

Oh, and I haven’t stopped eating all week! There’s just one more week to get through. I’m taking a wide berth around anyone who has a cold or other germs, and won’t run much next week.

All three girls are going to the nationals (plus Niamh!)

All three girls are going to the nationals (plus Niamh!)

Whatever happens on race day, there’s nothing I can do about it now!

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The Road to London #Week 12

Biking and swimming isn’t like running. It just isn’t. This week, like a crazed animal, I’ve tried to up my effort levels to try and feel as if I’m working my body. At the beginning of the week I tried running for a mile but my ankle felt a little sore as each minute passed so I turned around and went home.

Getting retaped @Knott Kinetics

Getting retaped @Knott Kinetics

Tuesday I decided on a bike-swim-bike, which felt good and I so wished I could add a mile or two run on to the end. This would have been foolish so I didn’t, what I did was a roundabout route to the pool with a steep hill, 9 x 50m efforts then zipped home as quick as I could. It was short but momentarily my legs were on fire.

The news wasn't great at the physio

The news wasn’t great at the physio

Wednesday I felt itchy so drove to the Mountbatten Centre pool in Portsmouth as there are two Olympic size pools and one is deep at both ends. I attached my trusty flotation belt round my waist and ran in the water, with a warm up, 4 x 6min 40secs (to replicate my 4 x 1 mile on the road) then a warm down before dashing to get Sienna next door from the gymnastics centre where she trains. It’s really hard to judge perceived effort in the pool as I didn’t have my heart rate monitor on, but I tried to push myself for each rep so I was out of breath the whole time. I felt a little bit shy as I trundled very slowly up and down the lanes while I puffed – most of the deep pool had the swimming club in for training. I caught a few glances from lifeguards/swimmers who were obviously thinking What is she doing? I just gave them my ‘I-have-to-do-this-as-I’m-an-injured-runner-obsessed-with-doing-a-marathon-next-month’ smile.

Biking bliss

Biking bliss

Thursday it was a really hard, short session on the turbo that gave me jelly legs. It really helped burn off my I-can’t-run angst, for a while. Coach David (more aware than most of my inner turmoil and tetchiness?) the duathlon demon wanted me to work hard (give him a break?) so gave me:

10 mins warm up with
– 3 mins in the first gear
– 3 mins in a harder gear
– 3 mins in a harder gear

1 min easy spin
5 x 30 secs hard with 30 secs recovery
2 mins easy spin
2 mins on a hard gear out of the saddle
60 secs recovery at 150bpm
2 mins hard out of saddle
60 secs recovery at 150bpm
30 secs flat out
60 secs recovery at 150bpm
5 mins warm down

I love this session!

I love this session. Kind of…

I did some S & C exercises focusing on my gluteus straight after. I loved/hated it; the second two minutes out of the saddle were crazy!

The awesome Friday runners

The awesome Friday runners

Friday I couldn’t run with the group so I cycled alongside. It was a quick session of 6 x 600m after a slow warm up to our starting point. I zipped around the circuit, trying to motivate everyone as much as I could. They are all stars, it wasn’t hard. Then I popped along to the physio, hoping (wishing?) that Lawrence would tell me my ligaments were much better and I could go and race a 10-miler on Sunday. Of course he didn’t. I’ve got another week of rest, with some daily exercises, before he decides on whether I may have a chance of making the marathon. I tried not to cry. And just about managed it.

Keeping myself entertained

Here I am again…keeping myself entertained

In the past I would have stopped exercising with an injury and started wallowing in self pity. If I wasn’t injured and not running I’d say I was feeling really good at the moment! I’ve truly learnt the importance of preventative exercises to keep injuries at bay and am staggered how little trouble I’ve had from my left glute since last summer.

Girlie sleepover in my room - I didn't get much sleep!

Girlie sleepover in my room – I didn’t get much sleep!

I say I don’t really like swimming and biking but I guess that’s not really true. I like them. I just don’t LOVE them like running. Maybe there is a little triathlete/duathlete hidden away inside me. Both have really kept me going through the winter, even when it’s been icy cold I’ve taken to my bike and I’ve never wanted to do that before. I think I need to keep learning to love both activities.

Saturday I repeated Thursday’s turbo session and put everything into the efforts… the highest I got my heart rate up to was 166, though it was really hard to do.

 

I swear she was in the same position when I left the house two hours earlier

I swear she was in the same position when I left the house two hours earlier

Sunday would have been my endurance run. My training plan said an 18 miler. What I wanted to do was 2.5 hours of running in the pool to try and replicate the effort. However, it was my middle daughter Amelie’s birthday sleepover Saturday night, and I don’t think she, or her friends’ mums would have appreciated me going off for about 3.5 hours. The next best thing was a long bike and this week I decided on two hours. It was so much warmer than last weekend and it was a pleasure to be outside doing endless reps along a bus route a few miles from my house.

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I wasn’t focusing on pace, rather heart rate and effort, and managed an average of about 75 per cent of my maximum heart rate for the two hours. My issue is that I wasn’t out of breath once. Even a bit. I can’t see how this can be boosting my fitness though of course I know it is. Running is much harder on my asthmatic lungs. Biking in comparison seems so easy. I hope there was some transference of fitness. I didn’t have the time for any longer – there’s a limit to how long you can leave your kids on their own, even when they are getting older (and especially when the youngest gets easily bored and is quite demanding). I left my eldest, Lola in charge, however, I’m sure Sienna didn’t move off the sofa the whole time I was out!

My fav fuel and recovery drink

My fav fuel and recovery drink

I’ve done about six hours of exercise this week. I would never normally do so much mainly due to time pressures. But it’s all on my own and I’m really missing going to my weekly club session and seeing my club mates. Still…I’m not ready to give in yet!

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I love you, forever and more

When little brown bear was a baby in arms
She’d fidget and toss and could never stay calm.

Mummy would hold her and whisper so gently
“I love you so much and will save you from harm.”

The months soon flew past, in a flash of the eye
And bear was now one. She began shouting “MINE!!”

If Mummy said “Share.” Or told her “no more!”
Little brown bear would strop. Grizzzzzzzzzzzzle. And wh-iiiiiiii-ne.  (Whaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!)

“No love me!” she cried, her lips all-a-quiver
“I love you,” said Mummy, “for now and for ever.”

When little brown bear grew again and was two
She’d stamp and she’d throw then she’d bang and be bruised.

If Mummy bear asked her to eat her tea nicely…
Little brown bear would simply RE-FUSE!

“No one loves me!” she screamed, so ever so loud.
“I love you,” said Mummy, “right up to the clouds.”

Then next came a shock, t’was the tiresome three’s!
Bear’d push and she’d kick and she’d pull and she’d tease.

When Mummy said: “SIT DOWN! Eat your tea pleeeeeeeaaaaaasee!”
Little bear huffed… then ranted… then wheezed.

“No one loves me!” she said, tears filling her eyes.
“I love you,” said Mummy, “right up to the skies.”

When little brown bear grew into her fours
She started at school and her spirit then soared.

She learnt how to share, to listen, to care
The shouting and stamping… they happened no more.

“I love you,” she said to Mummy Brown Bear.
“I love you so much, forever and more.”

*You may want to substitute ‘Little Brown Bear’ with ‘Amelie Eve’ – then you get the original format of this story….

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This little person is now 12 and bigger than me. She’s taught me so much, especially how precious her love is to me. I love you Amelie Eve, forever and more

It’s a work in progress…

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© This story is the original work of Tina Chantrey, and is subject to copyright.  This story may not be copied or otherwise exploited without my written permission.

A lifelong addiction

noo noo girl running for David

I am like a wild animal that roams this world, seeking extreme terrain and weather systems and other creatures who inhabit our beautiful oblate spheroid.

Being in possession of a treadmill in this life is a blessing – I have three young children – but it only takes a nervous glance out of my window at black clouds, trees almost bent to the ground with the wind, and the odd splat of water and there I am, running for miles along what seems, at times, the stormiest coastline in the world.

It’s never planned; it never should be. Any of us can take the easier option – to wait, to run inside. But this week the distant rumble of thunder drew me outdoors, and what an explosive experience I had. I switched off the headlines about the coastline of our island flooding and headed down to my local beach to check out the lie of the land for myself. Breathing? I couldn’t. The first three miles out the wind was against me and I was slow. Coming back it sliced through me, a westerly wind from an imaginary world more grim than the Ash Mountains of Mordor in Middle Earth.

My iPod flicked on to Madonna’s Immaculate Collection, music I hadn’t listened to for years. It transported me back to my school days when I would run the same route, fighting the same battle with the relentless wind. Which ever direction you run, it’s always there. In the run up to my O levels, my form tutor Linda (also my P.E. teacher) would suggest that my grades would get better if I spent less time out running, and more revising. But then, like now, I couldn’t stop myself from venturing out. It’s been a life-long addiction.

On my stormy run I thought about how, despite living and running all round the world, there were deep constants in my life. After spending half of my life trying to get away from where I grew up. I then spent half trying to get back. That tutor and P.E. teacher is now training my youngest as she takes small steps towards becoming a gymnast. When someone from your past reappears you can’t help but ask both why they have come back into your life, and what message life is sending you by the reunification. Thoughts began to flood back and I remembered I still had all of my school reports. I went up into my loft and found my battered old suitcase that holds the memories of my 40 or so years, and dug them out. Having told my girls that their athleticism is down to me (which of course they sniggered at) I found myself in tears within minutes as I read my form tutor’s words. “Could try harder” then “gymnastics is her weakest area” and finally, from my last year of school “…giving up athletics is such a waste of talent”. Those words winded me.

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Like the majority of teenagers I left my sport behind for what I thought were much more exciting options: going out, boyfriends, the pub… Regret is a heavy feeling that no-one wants to carry around, but sitting in our dusty, cold and still loft it’s what I felt. I’m not saying I could have reached any heady heights within athletics, but if I had at least persevered I could have discovered how far I could have gone. And would know now. Instead I stopped running for nearly 20 years.

Yet running came back in my life, and it still brings the ups and downs that athletics did when I was younger. Now I seem to seek many different things from running, one of the most important being connecting with other people. There was a time, when my children were tiny, when I desperately needed to go for a run, and ventured out to a club session, for ‘me’ time, but if anyone asked how I was I would hold back the tears. Now I want to talk to everyone; any runner I see I say hello to, but some are zoned out and I have to admit, this bugs me! Is a quick smile or wave of the hand wave so much to ask? Yet I know that once this was me, so caught up in myself that perhaps I didn’t have the time to reply, respond, or react.

Still, I look for eye contact now, and even though it’s sometimes hard to get this, I will keep trying.

Trapped! My running nomansland

noo noo girl running for David

 

Do you remember when takeaways started coming in those sealable plastic tubs, instead of foil containers with lids? Suddenly, the night after a takeaway, you had numerous tubs to do whatever you wanted with: store sandwiches, hold leftovers, even stuff with the kid’s craft leftovers. There were hundreds, even thousands of possible uses for them. It was truly exciting. I began to save them, so that it wasn’t too long before every time I opened the cupboard under the sink a stack would fall out. After every weekend treat, they were added to the collection. It became a compulsion, to add more and more. Then I got to the stage where I realised I had hundreds of tubs that I didn’t really use. But could I throw them away? No. I knew deep down in my heart that they were just plastic drift wood. I wanted to liberate my cupboards and throw them out. I wished they had never been invented.

Looking at my running kit, I think I may be following a similar pattern. Plastic containers no longer provide that moment of Scrooge-like pleasure when looking and just knowing they are there is enough. Now it’s compression socks, baselayers, running bras and tights (and hats are going that way, too). Perhaps none of us can ever have too much kit. My worry is that I may have had my running peak, and all this wonderful apparel will never fulfil it’s manufacturer’s dreams. I am in my 40’s – who would expect you to start churning out PBs at this age? I didn’t really like running at school, but I did jog through my early adult years. Then the epiphany came after having children and jogging morphed into a kind of alright-style of running where I felt I wasn’t too bad… considering. But was it just a fleeting experience?

I’ve had an OK winter of training – no records set, but consistent weekly running, with my club and on my own, has left me feeling I have gone some way to building a strong base. Yet that is all I have done for months now. The energy or fitness to take it to another level is gone. Mentally, more than physically, I am finding my running tough. If I could jog along at a happy pace for the next three decades I think I would be fine. I don’t want to though! When I run at a faster rhythm, one that my body loves as much as my winter dressing gown and fleecy slippers, I feel right. It really is one of the few times in my daily and weekly life that I do feel completely ‘me’. Less effort is still rewarding and relaxing and soothes my soul, but if I don’t get up to my natural rhythm, the buzz just isn’t there.

Once you’ve felt the joy of being able to run at a comfortable pace that is still stretching you, other running, just like those plastic tubs, becomes meaningless. I thrive on the social aspect of running, but that flash of competitive spirit has to be fed in all of us and seven minute miling is my running fodder. Once you’ve been running for a while you begin to understand that in order to improve you need to race.

Therein lies the rub. Children’s activities during weekend mornings, an overstretched week and an unwillingness to commit to pushing myself in a race scenario has turned me into a mouse. Having thrived on racing for the last two years, now I fear it. The desire to stand with all those other lovely runners on the start-line, feeling ready and able to race, has deserted me. All I can do is hope it will return. None of us want to race when we are not fit and speedy, but also, you have to get out there and just compete. This nomansland I washed up on this year is starting to make me feel lonely.

Something, or someone will somehow flick a switch in my head and will see me step back into my old shoes, or trainers. When it will happen, none of us knows. Life sends us down different paths for it’s own reasons, and hitting PBs isn’t one of the great lessons we must learn. The incessant rain seems to have returned, again, and I must admit, I have started to dream of owning a treadmill. Just imagine – no wind, cold, rain or snow. Did I just say that? There really must be something wrong with me at the moment.

 

Living with the curse…

noo noo girl running for David

Having a womb is both a blessing, and a curse. My womb has produced my beautiful children, and for that I shall forever be grateful to it. But the monthly backache, abdominal pain, bloating and spots, to be honest, I have had enough of. You can feel your period coming, like a steam train roaring out of control downhill; the passengers desperately want to jump for their lives, but have to endure their journey to the bitter end. Snatching at people, befuddled brain, losing the will to carry on; all these are monthly visitations that I dread. I try to imagine they are just not there; I am not feeling grumpy, tired, miserable, moody, irritable, tetchy, impatient or cross. No. I am floating away, over a summer meadow full of wild flowers with their dizzying scent surrounding me, totally at peace with myself and the universe.

Even though it’s the last thing you want to do when you are feeling at a low ebb, running does alleviate some of the more ’emotional’ triggers that your period can bring, even if it doesn’t really help with the physical issues. Seriously, if I couldn’t, when at the point of exploding with frustration at every human being within a one-mile radius, just go for a run – on my own, with absolutely no other oxygen-breathing entity entering my ‘white light’ (a sphere of about 10 metres that extends in front of, behind, above and below my body) – I would probably end up incarcerated. Not just thrown into a cell, with the key metaphorically tossed into a river. We are talking about being chained to a cart and taken to Tyburn gallows, hanged, disembowelled then my body cut into four parts, each with a limb attached (to be displayed outside my home) with my head probably put on a spike on London Bridge.

Yet, go for a run, and life becomes like that Chariots of fire beach scene that begins and ends the film… There I am, running down the beach, with the spray suspended around me, a ridiculously happy smile on my face. Sand all over my kit; doesn’t matter. Wind ruining my hair; no worries. Rain smudging my mascara; not a problem. Except, unlike the main characters, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, there are no Olympic gold medals to be had in between. Instead, the reward is simply release. Release mainly of stress, situated firmly and deeply in the brain region.

I am sure if I didn’t have this outlet, then I would feel as if my head had been boiling in a cauldron of water for half and hour, with my eyes already burst and a strong layer of fat risen to the surface. Yes, reader, it truly can feel that bad. I’ve tried taking supplements to help me recently – both with improving my running, and coping with monthly fatigue and period pain. The one-supplement-fits-all powder I tried looked liked pondweed. It promised me every nutrient I could possibly need in my over-worked and over-stretched lifestyle. Knowing it was so amazing I persevered, for about four days, after which my stomach, and gagging, firmly told me no more. Then I progressed to an elixir that would improve my speed in a race, only to suffer horrific wind – horrific for both me and those around me. Even the extra potent royal jelly, filled with the wizened knowledge and power of millions of years of queen bees made no inroad into my sorry state. The label of this last panacea stated: store in a cool, dry place, out of sight and reach of children. Did it mean me, or the supplement? I drank the full contents of one vial before breakfast every day for peak performance. There was none.

Maybe, just maybe, good old-fashioned rest is all I need to re-establish some state of peace, both emotionally and physically. Well, the sun is now strong enough to send warmth deep into the soul, so now I’ve finished writing this I am going to make a coffee and allow the spring sunshine to work it’s magic. Mother nature to the rescue, once again.

Living with running envy…

noo noo girl running for David
You looked at each other for some time before you became more serious. It wasn’t a quick affair, more a gradual deepening of feeling; somehow you just got under each other’s skin. It took a while, but slowly your feelings grew and grew, until there was that hedonistic explosion of love. Your minds were tormented by thoughts of each other. Together, you discovered amazing places you never thought existed. There were challenges, of course, and some lows after the initial ‘high’. And when you were too busy to give your full attention, you felt guilt creeping into the edges of your relationship. The thing is, even though you’ve been in this type of relationship before, it’s never been this intense, this ‘real’. Finally, you ask yourself,: ‘Could this really be love?’ During your honeymoon period everything – EVERYTHING – faded into the background. You not only became lovers, you became best friends.

Yes, trainers can really do this to a person. Education, travel, career, family: all unbelievable life experiences. We all know that life often evens out after your roller-coaster years. But buy a good pair of trainers, and running can reignite dormant passions you couldn’t anticipate still existed following between one and 10 years of broken sleep.

The rush of endorphins keeps you coming back for more – seeking out new routes, new races, harder intervals, to see how far you can push your body. Why then, am I looking at my trainers now with those inevitable feelings of, not ‘hate’, but: ‘I’m not so sure now I made the right decision’ thoughts trailing through my mind. ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ feelings plague me as I walk in and out the front door (sometimes 10 times a day) glimpsing the pink and green flash of my Brooks.

Every time I spot them, I am reminded that at this stage of my life, I cannot run as much as I would like. As I began to spout my frustration at this to my wise Aunt recently, she reminded me that running can always wait: she kept running into her 60’s, a once a week 10 mile excursion to ‘clear the mind’. “You can always run when the children are older,” she reassured me. “But I want to set some new PB’s now,” I impatiently replied. “In five years time I will be five years older and it will be so much harder.”

“But running is mental, not physical,” she retorted. “Don’t forget, the cells in your organs, your muscles, your bones, are constantly regenerating. However old in years you may be, much of you is only a few days new.” Of course she was right. But, I am getting more than a little frustrated at this half-way house I live in, where I have developed this love affair with running, and am temporarily having to keep it on the sidelines due to family/work responsibilities. I can’t do this gracefully. I constantly contemplate forcing the children to give up what they love doing, just so I can do what I love doing. It’s crazy! I can’t do this as it goes against motherhood: kids come first, right?

I can train, but not always with my club. I enter races, then don’t make the start-line. Yes, I am suffering from the debilitating condition commonly known as running envy. The more the weeks pass and my running fails to move forward, the more I contemplate ridiculous scenarios to fit in a run. The underlying condition can be diagnosed as never being happy with one’s situation; a common symptom is the desire to scream out: “What about me!” Originally thought to be a pre-occupation of younger generations, there are increasing numbers of older people who are struggling to come to terms with dreams of running at greater speeds than we ever thought possible when our journeys began.

I think creatively; during holidays my children ride on their bikes whilst I run, or play in the park as I manically orbit them, a desperate satellite trying to make each session count. I am now starting my runs as tired as I usually feel when I’ve finished them. The only solution is to take the kids everywhere, it seems. My partner is not just a running widow, the kids have become a strange mutation of the ‘latch-key’ variety. After manic mornings and evenings where five to six hours of life have to be compressed into one hour, so that we can get out of the house and to club/events/races, they stand, abandoned to the countryside, whilst mummy goes off for half an hour or so to ‘do her own thing’. Take a step back and, compared to the lives of some children, this isn’t such a hardship, so why do I feel SO guilty?