A question I get asked often is how do I fit my training around being a parent, especially when I run seven days a week.
This is based on my situation in partnership with my wife, but I appreciate that everyone’s circumstances are different, so I can only speak from my own personal experience.
Whilst I wasn’t a fan of early morning running before becoming a father, I’ve learnt to embrace the 5am and 6am clubs to train. This allows me to spend time with my daughter after work.
The reality is, I still have day to day choices. But I’m more aware of how my decisions impact my daughter first,
I’m almost a year into the job these are 15 lessons that I’ve learned along the way.
1. You truly see your parents: There is no manual for parenting, and people aren’t perfect. You realise that your parents did the best they could do with what they had. But on the flip side if they didn’t… and your parents haven’t given you what they should have, maybe they never received it themselves. But don’t let that shadow stop you living in the now.
2. Goodbye sleep: You quietly seeth with rage when you hear non parents complain that they are busy or tired. As you haven’t slept well, since your child’s birth.
3. Time: With less sleep and more time focused on your child rather than yourself. You have less ME time. Whilst it feels like you lose the freedom to do what you wanted before, you realise that the time that you have is sacred, you notice how much time you wasted, and you make a conscious decision to make the best of the time that you have.
4. Women are stronger: Whilst I run and train daily, it’s easy to train in comparison to raising a child. Whilst I play my part in parenting. Seeing the work my wife does is something. And I have a greater respect for the women in my life, from my Grandma, Mum, Mother in law, to my wife. All do a great job. When you become a parent, your more consciously aware of the real strength that women have, and learn that true strength is deeper then the physical interpretation that men think it is.
5. You become more in touch with your feelings: Before being a father I was more emotionally removed from situations. Whereas the more time I spend with my daughter I’ve become more emotionally available and tactile, which has made me more present.
6. It’s not about me: It’s so easy to be in our own heads on a daily basis. Fatherhood has shown me to remove myself from the centre of my universe. It’s not just looking after the needs of your baby, but paying attention to the needs of my wife as we both adapt to this new chapter.
7. Labels are false: So what do you do? I’m a xyz. Before being a parent it was easy to fall into the trap of labelling myself which is limiting. From I’m a runner, to what my job is, social position etc.
Sebastian Vettel said it perfectly: “Obviously F1 is a big part of my life but it is not the most important thing. It is not who I am, it is what I do. They are linked but it is important there is a lot of time where it doesn’t define who I am… I don’t feel special because of what I do for a job. It is part of me, my identity but it would be the wrong answer if I asked myself: ‘Who are you?’ and I said: ‘I am an F1 driver.’ I am a lot of other things as well. It doesn’t define me as a person.”
Ultimately your kids don’t care who you think you are, they just want you to be present with them. So you learn to hold each position lightly and know that people are multi dimensional.
8. Responsibility: You develop a greater compassion for those who are in genuine need of assistance and you will help them. However when the opposite happens you want to remind people that their actions, can either empower or disempower themselves.
9. Kids see everything: I’m more aware that it isn’t what I say that really counts it’s how my daughter sees how I act, which is more important.
10. Health is important: I’m more conscious of health so I can try be as healthy and present for my daughter, with better exercise, food and drink choices.
11. Your kids came from you, but they are their own beings: When you listen to new parents they are sometimes so focused on giving their kids everything, or trying to out do other parents. Whilst there isn’t anything wrong with doing the best for your child, you should question are you taking certain actions for your child or for yourself. Whilst they are related to you, it’s your job to help them be the best version of themselves not a mini you.
12. You learn that love isn’t just about holding on: Whilst I love my daughter, it’s not my job to disable her by protecting her from everything. I’m not saying I’d put her in harms way, but I have to help her learn to see, and to trust the strength that she already has.
My job is to help my daughter be the best version of herself and not be a mini me. Whilst I want to protect her, I have to let her feel and experience life’s challenges. I’ll be there to support her in the highs and lows, to process it all, so she’ll learn to enable herself to process these feelings.
13. Worry: You worry less about basic problems. You face things head on and make the best choice from the situation that your in.
14. Balance is an illusion: It causes more stress searching for it, then doing the best that you can with the time that you have.
15. Adulting can get too serious: Rather then me delivering the lessons all the time my daughter teaches me to:
- Be present;
- Being enough. Not trying to be something beyond what they already are;
- To laugh and smile more, to have fun;
- Stop trying to be perfect, it’s refreshing to see a baby learn a new skill, they just try and do, without trying to be perfect.
- When kids look at the world, they see the world for what it is, then us as adults start naming things (because that’s intelligence) providing certainty. For example if you say that’s the ocean, they stop seeing the ripples, the currents, or the waves, the seaweed etc. they see a name, and don’t see it for what it is.