As my children grew and became more independent and developed their own interests so my mileage grew. I am now to all intent and purpose free to do as I please: train when I want, where I want and for as long as I want, enter as many events as I want whenever I want. However, I am not a lone entity as you know: I have Alasdair. I like spending time with my husband. We like that we are child free. So, how do I achieve that training/life balance?
When the children were young I ran shorter race distances and so required less and shorter training sessions. I would train early morning before anyone was up, during homework time, during hockey matches or sometime I would train with the girls riding their bikes alongside me. Nowadays it is a similar flexible approach, just a different outcome. We have tried various permutations, some more successful than others.
First up was drop off, then bunny hop along the route with the car with the odd tearoom stop, a bit of reading in the car and a fair amount of snoozing in the car. Alasdair did not seem to get too bored and anything that involves coffee, cake and sleep is good. There was the odd hiccough: not getting the meeting point quite right, me being slower or faster than anticipated and the famous occasion when I reached the car with no key and no Alasdair in sight only to find out that he was in the real ale shop. Yes, he managed to spot a real ale shop in the middle of nowhere.
Next up was the run/walk approach. I always felt a bit guilty that I was out enjoying the countryside and trails while Alasdair was spending so much time stuck in the car. (A somewhat misplaced guilt I think). Anyway, in the interests of Alasdair’s health (and weight) and in a bid to encourage activity we started to plan routes, where we could combine my run and some walking for Alasdair and more time together sharing the experience.
At first this involved Alasdair fitting in a walk at some point along the route, but always ending up with the car at my end point: so an improvement, but not that much different. There was still a fair amount of hanging about and snoozing. Not a problem thinks Alasdair, I like snoozing, I can snooze anywhere; I can even snooze standing up.
As will most things practice makes perfect. We have become more creative.
I have dropped Alasdair off, driven on to an agreed point next to a café or pub, before going for an out and back run knowing that Alasdair has had a good point to point walk finishing somewhere where he can get refreshments waiting on my return. Variation on a theme: I get dropped, Alasdair goes to a point beyond my end point and walks out in the direction I will be coming to meet me as I complete my distance and we walk back to the car. A good way to get a few extra miles and spend some time with Alasdair and experiencing the world at his Alpine pace.
But my favourite of all: the hare and hound day. Alasdair dropped me at Tyndrum and I started running. He went to Bridge of Orchy and started walking towards Rannoch Moor. The plan: keep walking until I catch you.
Aw, so I can’t just walk a short distance very slowly and stop and wait you?
No, keep walking.
This plan is fine until I reach the point where I thought I would make the catch and no sign of Alasdair. Hmmm, I continue and still no sign. I was getting tired. I had exceeded my planned distance. I pull out my phone. There is no signal. Damn. I press on just starting to get a tad nervous with a vision of not making the catch and us both winding up in Glencoe too whacked to make the return. Phone signal at last:
Where are you? I’m just approaching the end of the trees.
I’m at the bridge. The bridge?
Not the one just after the treeline but further olong.
Ok, stop walking.
I’ll wait here.
My brain is in over-drive as there are a number of stone bridges across the moor and I am really hoping he is not too far out on the moor but another half mile and there he is; phew! We do an about turn and start a gentle walk back, disaster averted. This one needs a little refinement.
Walks and especially hill walks used to be a frustrating and stressful experience for both given that out fitness levels and motivation are oceans apart. Whilst some joke about our weekend sorties and the fact I spend the time ‘running away’ from Alasdair we have actually found the perfect balance.
Alasdair can happily dismiss all notions of sweat and a pending heart attack whilst I charge along sweating for two, going bright red and looking as if I might blow up. When we finally meet up I am happy to cool down walking alongside him ignoring his pleas to walk down wind. It is interesting and good to see the world at his pace. I notice even more of what is around me, don’t trip or fall over as much, take much better photos and don’t have arguments with the voices in my head. Oh, and finally, it gives me time to adjust back into civilised mode as he reminds me that spitting and snot rockets are really not acceptable in polite society.