Category Archives: parenting

Passing The Baton

I haven’t run much at all lately. I was getting on okay and on the verge of signing up to races but a calf niggle stopped me in my tracks. Before I used to panic and enter all the races just in case, an urge that I never think is helped by reading achievements by others on social media. I used to get a ‘I must enter races to feel like a runner’ anxiety but of late I have taken a more sensible approach. There will always be races, the time will come again, I will get there and save myself wasting money in the long run.

I was about to start to get going again but my chest has flared up and I’m now on steroids and blah, blah I feel rough etc. But while I’ve not been running something else has been happening in the background. My seven year old has been quietly going off to cross country practice at school. He’s been taking his PE kit in, going to lunch early and then joining in with an older group of juniors who go to the same practice every Thursday. I thought it would be a flash in the pan, he’d realise his mates were off playing touch rugby and sack it off. But no. He’s kept going and I think he’s enjoying it.

On Saturday I took him to his first cross country race. It was at a high school and involved a lap and a half of a field. It didn’t all go to plan though. There were hundreds of kids, a huge scrum and sprint at the start meant a few boys tripped and fell. As the boys ran past me I couldn’t see him anywhere. Not at the front and not at the back. No where to be seen in the middle. I ran one way across the field and back to the other. And then I saw him. Floods of tears, holding his face. A boy had fallen in front of him and he’d tripped over him and hit his chin on the floor. A combination of shock and pain (and a fear of coming last) overcame him and he dropped out. My first instinct was to tell him he should have got up and carried on but then I scolded myself, as after all, he is only seven. I comforted him and we went home. On the drive home he said he was disappointed and that he was worried he wouldn’t get another go. I felt sad for him but I was relieved that he hadn’t been put off altogether. Having been spiked and elbowed in the past I think a cross country race can be just as vicious as many other sports

A side effect of eldest boy running has been that his younger brother aged five now wants t have a go. He had a bit of a pout on Saturday when I had to explain that the cross country was only for juniors and not for infants. I then remembered that we had a couple of junior Parkruns near us and a promise to sign him up and take him soon cheered him up.

I have to say that I’m thrilled that my children are taking an interest in running. Even if they don’t join a club or do it competitively I am happy that they seem happy to run for fun. I’m glad that they’ve been able to watch me enjoy running and I know that they’ve sometimes been frustrated when they haven’t been able to run with me. They’re definitely doers not watchers. As they’re getting older I’m sure they will do lots of other sports but I’m happy that I seem to be passing the baton down to them to continue my running tradition, in whatever manner they see fit. I feel that they’re also being taught that going for a run is a perfectly normal, acceptable activity and this will give them a good platform for their fitness and other sports as they grow older.

And after the disappointment on Saturday I came home from work to some lovely news. Eldest has been picked to run for his primary school at a cross country on Thursday. Proud Mum is probably an understatement but yes, I really am proud of my two little runners.

Girls and Boys

I have watched with glee over the last year as campaigns for women’s sport and equality in sport have taken off. I have never been prouder of women I know who have recently taken on a new sport or a challenge having previously been put off. The fight against sexism in sport and exercise is wonderful and I will always teach my two boys that women are as able as men in sport. Yes there are undeniable biological differences which mean in some sports that men and women can’t always compete with or against each other but I hop for a day when ‘that’s a boy’s sport’ becomes a thing of the past.

However recently my eldest son has encountered another sort of attitude. He is 7 and has just gone into year 3. He is sport and activity mad and now that he’s a junior there are a whole host of after school activities and sports that are available for him to try. If he could he would do all of them. It’s not at all possible, we do need some time at time too, but the one sport he really wanted to try was netball. Absolutely I said. Netball is a great sport and with its skill set of passing, spatial awareness, fast pace and intercepting to name but a few it was only going to be of benefit to him and his physical literacy. It was also a mixed session which from a social point of view was also going to be of benefit.

But in the week leading up to the session he got a bit down about it.

‘xxx says I’m a girl because I want to do netball’.

‘xxx says I have to wear a skirt to play netball’. (at school all the kids wear shorts or joggers for sport and PE).

‘xxx says netball is rubbish because it’s for girls’.

My blood pressure rose a fair bit and I became incensed for my boy on his behalf.

Firstly I had a chat with my son about why ‘you’re a girl’ is not and should not be used as an insult. I explained that women do a great many things that men do and sometimes do it even better. I reminded him that his mum had run marathons, competed triathlons and occasionally lifted weights. I told him that as a ‘girl’ I played hockey and won medals in athletics. Our conclusion was that girls and woman are awesome and telling someone that they’re ‘like a girl’ is not an insult in the slightest.

He seemed happier as I also explained the benefits netball would have for his rugby. He did go to netball last week but I checked on him as I picked up his little brother to make sure he was going. He went along and the teacher told me he loved it. And what’s not to love, there’s a ball, there’s running and there’s shooting at a goal. He was buzzing with excitement and with all he had learnt.

This week he came out of netball and two of his school mates, both boys from his rugby team, had joined him. But on the way home he told me that some more boys had been teasing him again and that one had told a girl who goes to rugby that rugby is for boys, not girls.

The blood pressure rose again and I seethed as I tried to make sense of my thoughts. The first thing, which I didn’t say to my son, is that these attitudes are not coming from the children. These ideas are coming from adults within the home who tell their children that this activity is for boys and this activity is for girls. I remember a dad at a toddler group chastising his son for playing with a toy pram but the poor wee boy would only have been copying what his dad did to get them both there. there are obviously still these entrenched views about playing and sport that are being spouted at home and are then taken into school. It’s sad and ridiculously out dated.

Instead what I said to my son is that these boys might be a bit afraid. He looked a bit perplexed so I explained that sometimes people are too afraid about what other people think of them and that this stops them doing the things that they really want to do. I said maybe deep down these boys want to play netball too but are too afraid of what a person, like them, might say and isn’t that really, really sad.

I think a penny might have dropped with my son as he realised that he had carried on with netball despite the teasing and the name calling. I told him I was proud of him for going to netball no matter what the other kids said. I also said that him going had maybe made the other boys brave enough to go. He grinned and then the conversation was over. I don’t know if any of it sank in but I really hope so.

It makes me sad as a parent that girls and boys are still fighting against ingrained attitudes forced upon them by the adults in their lives. I’m sure parents of girls have a tough job making sure their daughters have the confidence to fight against these attitudes. As the mum of two boys I feel it is my job to develop within my sons a good attitude towards women and girls. They are reminded that we are equal, they should know that girls and boys should have the same opportunities, that there is no such thing as boys’ stuff and girls’ stuff and importantly that they should never utter ‘like a girl’ as a derogatory term.

Face Your Fears And Good Things Might Happen.

It seems that my eldest son and I have been learning a valuable lesson alongside each other over the past few months.

I faced my fear of swimming in open water.

wpid-img-20150805-wa0010.jpgAnd then eleven days ago I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon which included my first open water 1500m swim in the Royal Victoria Docks.


A few months ago my 7 year old auditoned to be a mascot in the Rugby World Cup.

wpid-20150704_121108.jpgThis weekend we were able to surprise him with some awesome news from his rugby idol Leigh Halfpenny. Finlay is to be mascot for Wales at Wales’ first game against Uruguay.

wpid-20150815_125732.jpgI am so unbelievably thrilled for him. I’m still thrilled for myself that I completed my first standard distance triathlon at the biggest triathlon event in the UK.

Finlay and I both nearly walked away from these opportunities. Both of us turned back round and faced our fears and we’ve both discovered that sometimes you have to do that to make the good stuff happen. Go and do something that scares you. You never know what might happen.

Being Watched

On Saturday I completed my first ever Olympic Distance Triathlon. It was an absolutely brilliant day, full of lots of ‘firsts’. First race Olympic distance race. First race in open water. First time competing in a trisuit and first time racing in my fabulous golden visor. But there was also a significant first for me. It was the first time my two children, ages 5 and 7, had come to see me in a race.

As a teenager I raced nearly every weekend. Through the year track races would become road races and road races would soon become cross country competitions. I would have family at nearly all my races. Mum and Dad. Sometimes just Mum or Dad. Mum, Dad and brother. Occasionally extended family would come along too and it would become a massive deal. I remember cringing at being cheered on or as a female relative would loudly lavish me with praise in front of my team mates and other coaches. My nerves didn’t help either. Before a race I would become moody and irritable, snapping at anyone who tried to talk to me. I wanted to be left alone but I never was. In my own selfish, teenage way, I envied girls who were on there own, probably not even thinking that maybe they would like to have someone with them. Looking back I can see how I took my family being there very much for granted.

When I started back running after my second son was born I had accepted that I might not be able to have all the family around watching me in races. Trying to entertain a toddler and a young baby at a long event is no fun for the parent trying to support and it’s boring for the kids. I decided a while ago that I wasn’t going to force my children to come along to races to support me, especially if it was just a glimpse.

And then there are the crowds, trying to manoeuvre children on public transport, stopping them from running off, fighting and arguing. Ugh. It just wasn’t something my husband and I wanted to inflict on the family, especially when I felt like what I was doing was a little bit on the selfish side anyway. So for the races I have done since then it has just been my husband who has met me somewhere near the finish line. I don’t think I’ve even seen him on the sidelines as he’s had to fight through those crowds to try and find a good place to try and spot me while trying to get to the finish.

A few weeks ago I did a novice triathlon. It was a really early start and even though it was local I hadn’t wanted to drag the whole family out of bed to see me. I went along on my own, finished and then wandered around. I could see lots of children running along the side of the running course cheering on their mums and dads. Whats more these kids were around the same age as mine. I felt a little pang inside and started to wish that I had had someone at the end to give me a hug. I fought off the temptation to go up to one of the marshalls and hug them and went home.

On Saturday I had fully intended to go to the triathlon on my own, meet up with Team Tricurious and head back with a brief phone call to family to let them know how I had got on. My husband was away at a function with his ‘bar bus’ so the boys were with my folks. In the morning my Dad inquired a little bit as to where I would be and how long it would take. I just thought he was showing concern and some interest.

As I came out of the ExCel after my bike transition I had a huge surprise. There on my left were four people I recognised. Four of my own people. People who were there for me. I shrieked in excitement as I ran over to greet my parents who had brought the boys to see me for the very first time. They weren’t somewhere else just to meet me at the end, they were here to see me run!

My heart lifted and I tried to get more spring in my step. At the end they were waiting just beyond the finish line and they all flung their arms around me. My heart inflated even more with the love of my boys…….until they started fighting over my medal, moaning that I was too sweaty and pulling daft faces when we tried to take a nice picture. Right there the inflated heart shrank a bit as I had to go back into parental mode.


On a serious (and soppy) note it meant a lot to see my family on Saturday. I can’t believe how happy it made me feel to see them and I am thrilled that they were able to come along. I’m glad that the boys got to see one of the events that they see me training for. They have seen that the hard work goes towards something special. I also think it’s important for young boys like mine to see that the women in their lives can be strong and determined.

Saturday was an incredible day for me for so many reasons but having the boys there really topped off a fantastic day. My teenage self obviously underestimated the power of having people there cheering you on. My 35 year old self however really appreciated having people there for me and right now being watched in all my races is something I could get used to. Until the time comes when the boys’ activities take over and I become the cringe inducing parent of teenager on the side line.

Running Buddy

One of the best things about getting over injury is to be able to take my oldest son out on his bike while I trot alongside. This was a post Christmas run with ‘F’ accompanying me on his Christmas present, a brand spanking new bike.

The air was chilly, the ground covered in silver frost and he stole my gloves because his hands were cold. He declared himself my coach and there did end up being some Fartlek action as now and again I had to speed up and shout at him to wait for me. I can’t wait for youngest to be able to ride his bike too so we can all go out together.

Apologies for the shakiness of the video. I took it on my phone. Santa didn’t bring me a Go Pro. Maybe next year.



I Became A Rugby Mum

Yesterday I became a fully fledged rugby mum. My 6 year old son has been training with a local club since the start of the year. This month he was registered as part of the Under 7’s age group and yesterday he had his first experience of tag rugby against another team.

If I’m honest I hadn’t been looking forward to this day, not because I’m worried he’ll get hurt (okay maybe a little bit), but because of attitudes of other coaches and parents. We are very lucky that the coaches on our team are friendly, encouraging and supportive. I have heard rumours that opposing coaches are not always this way, even when coaching children this young. I have even heard that parents, both mums and dads, can let emotion get the better of them or even become aggressive. I was concerned that I would be met with this yesterday.


Going In For A Tag!

Turns out I had nothing to fear. The referee, coaches and parents of all teams yesterday were encouraging of all the boys and girls playing. Supporters from all sides enjoyed watching their kids play and there was no aggression or side line coaching from anyone. I was relieved. All the children enjoyed the games and they didn’t even seem overly concerned as to who had won or lost, they had simply enjoyed being active and being part of a team. This for me is the most important thing. If at any point I felt my son was putting too much pressure on himself or he felt pressurised by anyone involved in his side I think I would have to withdraw him and find another team. Sport at this age should be all about learning new skills, making friends and having fun and fortunately that was what I saw yesterday.

My son had a fantastic time at his first game. He spent time with his friends, cheered on his team mates and showed a really good attitude towards the other players and the referee. Yesterday was a learning experience for him and he appeared to enjoy every moment of it. We are all really proud of him.

When we came home yesterday I found this picture which had been posted by Bath Rugby. It sums up some of the worries I had about yesterday and I think its sentiments can be applied to kids’ sport whatever it is.



Run, Walk, Camp.

Blogging has been a bit hit and miss for me over the summer. I have had two little people around who have occasionally required feeding, watering and entertaining. There have been day trips and den making and baking and swimming and other ‘ings’ that have taken priority over blogging. There was also issues with a dead laptop and the small problem of a written off car to deal with too so the last few weeks have been about dealing with many other grown up things too (sometimes being a grown up sucks).

But we are all in one piece and the boys have largely forgotten about the accident, save for the occasional comment about where we were crashed into, should we drive past in the hire car. I was achy for a few days, more through being stressed out and worried than anything, and tried to continue with my latest rehab approach of run/walk.

Because calf and tendons have been such a disaster for me of late I have been using the run/walk approach for my injury rehabilitation. Finally I have seen sense and instead of seeing it as a failure on my part as a runner I have started to see it as long term investment in my recovery. I am still hyper aware of my achilles tendon on a daily basis, I have too much somatic focus on it, but with run/walk I have discovered that there is very little pay off from a session. And with some patience and a mixture of surfaces I am back up to roughly 30-35 minutes of a 4 to 1 run/walk ratio. Huzzah!

A few days before we went on our holiday I felt a bit run down and had the sniffles. Instead of listening to my body I dosed up and ran anyway. Always a fatal mistake on my part. This resulted in a full blown chest cold and a very ill me packing for a trip where we would be sleeping in a bell tent. I considered taking running kit but with the way I felt I decided it would be futile. Instead I self medicated, took all my warm clothes and went to Wiltshire for our family holiday (secretly wishing I could go back to my own bed and join them later in the week).

I’m so glad I didn’t stay behind because I had the best time. We stayed on a fabulous camp site called Botany Camping in Warminster. Instead of pitching our own tent we opted to stay in one of the bell tents. Ours was pink and had plenty of room for the four of us. We visited Longleat over two days, had a trip to Frome and spent the rest of our time playing and sitting by the camp fire toasting marshmallows. I even got over myself and used the composting toilets. There were no power points for phones, no distractions and the boys made friends with other children on the site. It was a blissful week.

2014-08-28 09.49.49



However while we were there I couldn’t stop my thoughts turning to running. I would look out the car window wondering where the paths and trails of Warminster would take me. It looks like a wonderful place for runners. I’m really keen to go back that way and I would happily stay at Botany Farm again with the addition of some running kit and trainers, and maybe another trip to see the animals at Longleat!





Waterfall Walking

Sometimes I do think for everything a reason. Training for Berlin would have been full on right now and with the boys being on holiday I think I would have found it incredibly difficult.  Maybe I just wasn’t meant to run Berlin this year. Maybe all this has happened to take me in a different direction. Or I’m over romanticising fate and the stars.

What I do know is that if I was in the midst of marathon training right now my long runs would be on weekends and I would have been too miserable to enjoy the place that we went to on Saturday. After a little bit of research we packed a picnic and headed to Waterfall country in Brecon.

We drove for an hour from where we live just outside Cardiff, to Glynneath. We decided to park at the opposite end of the Waterfall Centre at Pont Melin Fach, which I now think was genius planning hy my husband.


Immediately I was in some kind of heaven. The tiny car park is beside a babbling river and a meadow which is used as a picnic area. Before we’d even set off the boys were stepping over the stones in the river.


After a bite to eat to fuel us for waterfall hunting we headed off on the trail. The trail was stony and uneven, the trees a leafy ceiling protecting us from the glare of the July sun. However the air was still very hot and humid. The path follows the River Pyrddin and before long we had found our first waterfall. We stopped and the boys had a swing over the river via a rope strapped to a huge branch.


We continued on the path, finding our footing and taking care not to let the boys stumble too close to the edge. We found a few smaller waterfalls which didnt seem to impress the boys too much.  But before long we stumbled upon The Lady Falls or Sgwd Gwladus. The myth goes that Gwladus was a fifth century Princess who fell in love with a man named Einion. Their relationship was not allowed to develop and tormented by her sadness Princess Gwladus’ spirit became forever immortalised as the water fall.


The boys swimming in the pool with Sgwd Glwadus in the background.

I love myth and legend and the waterfalls have an ethereal feel to them. My eldest said we were on the Ewok planet of Endor and for the entirety of our trip I did feel like I was on another very beautiful planet. I have truly never been anywhere quite like it. The boys swam in the pools to cool off from all the walking and I started to wish I had taken my costume.


I have made peace with my decision not to run Berlin. The timing was not right with my injury and illness troubles. Instead I have been able to really absorb myself in trips with the boys without having training worries in the back of my mind. If ‘Mindfulness’ was a place I think the Waterfall Woods could be it.

Walking through those woods I obviously couldn’t help but let my mind drift to running and namely how great it would be to run over that trail. If I get myself fully fit again I may even allow myself to put the Brecon to Cardiff Ultra back on my ‘to do’ list. And with breath taking beauty like this how could I not.


Learning To Swim with Aqua Passport: A Parent’s Experience

My first experience of sport was swimming. By the time I eight I was swimming regularly with a club and competing (usually getting disqualified though for my rubbish breast stroke legs!). I really believe that swimming helped to set me up with a good level of fitness to take into my other. When I had my children I decided that I wanted them to become competent swimmers and give them an important skill for life.

Over a year ago now my eldest son started having lessons with Hanna who works for Swim Wales. What I didn’t know at the time was that Hanna was developing Wales’ only Government endorsed learn to swim scheme called Aqua Passport, with the goal being to get all children in Wales swimming by the age of eleven. 1 in 4 children under the age of 11 are unable to swim which came as a shock to me because swimming is not just about staying fit but is vital in teaching children how to stay safe around water.

Aqua Passport is being launched by Swim Wales today and is the first scheme to have an interactive website with the aim of keeping children motivated about their swimming lessons. I know already from using the Aqua Passport website that my son loves coming home to check his progress and to see what he needs to do to get to the next skill stage. There are also games on the web site, involving dragon characters, and every time you finish a stage your child can unlock more stickers and games. This is the element that my son enjoys the most from the website.


From a parenting point of view I like looking through the skill videos and checking what my son needs to work on so that if we go ‘fun swimming’ we can have a quick go at new skills. It helps me to feel involved in his swimming progress too and I can see how far he has come, which thanks to Hanna is a long long way from where he started. He can now swim all four strokes and is very aware of how to stay safe around water. I am extremely proud of him and thrilled to have Hanna as his teacher. I hope to get his younger brother started on the scheme very soon.


To find out if the Aqua Passport is coming to your area in Wales visit For more information on the launch follow Swim Wales on Twitter.

I have not been paid to write this post. These are my honest thoughts based on our experiences of the Aqua Passport.




In Praise Of Sports Day

It’s probably no great surprise that as a former teen athlete, regular runner and lover of all things sporty that I love Sports Day. I loved it when I was at school. A whole afternoon in the sun, your Mum and Dad come to watch you and you get to run as fast as you possibly can or jump over things, under things and throw random objects. All the stuff that kids are usually told not to do. I know that many people dislike Sports Day because they don’t believe in the competitive element but I think it’s a great reason to embrace all that is great about being a child. Not forgetting that it teaches children all the basic skills that you need to remain fit and healthy: jumping, throwing, balance, running and dodging.

Yesterday it was Sports Day at my sons’ school. I wasn’t able to go to my eldest son’s Sports Day but his Dad went and kept me up to speed via text. I had no worries about F though. He’s 6 and he lives for being active. He goes to rugby and swimming and two of his favourite things are his bike and his skateboard. He even comes out on his bike with me if I’m doing a short run. My youngest on the other hand, still being only 4, hasn’t found out what he likes but he isn’t really ready to focus on anything other than being a 4 year old.

T (my 4 year old) hasn’t really taken to nursery school very well. He’s better now than at the start of the year but he has had me worried a fair bit this year. I’ve worried that I sent him to school too soon or that he would never settle. As like any 4 year old boy he is easily distracted and he doesn’t have much interest in sitting still or being told to focus on one activity for any length of time. So I went along to Sports Day yesterday with a little bit of a worry cluster going on in my head: Will he behave? Will he be disruptive? Will he take part properly or just muck around?

Yesterday I saw a different side to my youngest son. It was as if the competitive element of Sports Day gave him something that he was willing to focus on. His egg and spoon race was won through his patience and determination not to wobble the spoon. His throwing was a show of his strength and power and his flat race? Well I would like to think that his flat speed and competitive streak to cross the line first came from his Mum *ahem*. He came home with a string of first and second badges. I was thrilled for him and he seemed to be proud of himself.

Now this really isn’t about my son coming first or second, it’s about what Sports Day yesterday did for my little boy’s self esteem. This year has been challenging for him, for us as parents and of course the teachers as we have tried to work out how to get him to want to go to school, to improve his listening skills and at times his behaviour. My little boy has occasionally come home so low that I have worried for his self esteem and his feelings about himself. But yesterday he looked so proud and so happy that I was really grateful for Sports Day and for many more reasons other than whether he won. Some of my worries drained away and I feel more confident for his next year in school.

As for the Mum’s race? I came third. The less said about that the better *devises training programme for 50 meter dash 2015*.