17 Apr

Why I do the Mums Milk Run

claref - run2018Ahead of the Mums Milk Run 2018, we interviewed some of our regular fundraisers to find out what they get out of doing our bi-annual 20k virtual run. Clare Farquhar is BfN’s Central Support Manager and she got into running recently. Here’s her story.

Why do you run for BfN?

I have been doing the Mums Milk Run virtual run for BfN since the first event in 2017. I used to volunteer as a breastfeeding supporter, but I find I don’t have time for that now, so this is my way of supporting BfN on top of the job I do as BfN Central Support Manager.

I think there are a lot of similarities between running and breastfeeding in terms of things that help make them successful. Being single minded, determined, not caring what others think or say (no one did say anything, but I was worried) are all factors that helped me get into running and into breastfeeding. There’s also the physical and mental health benefits, of both activities, and the sense of achievement when you reach your own goals. They’re both free, you can do them as a group or on your own, at home or out and about. Mentally, breastfeeding and running have a lot of the same challenges, so running for BfN makes so much sense to me.

How did you get started?

I’m from Newcastle, and that’s where the Great North Run starts. Every year I would see the run on TV and wish I could do it, but I never thought I could. Then one year, I don’t know why, I just thought ‘this year I’m going to do it’. That was in 2016, and I was so determined that when I didn’t get a place in the ballot, I signed up to run for a charity – I did it for Mind.

I had never run before, I always hated running at school, and wasn’t really very active at all. I’d just done a bit of netball. But I got a free training plan from the Great North Run website, which was for beginners, and I stuck to it rigidly.

The race was brilliant, and also very emotional for me. It was held on my Dad’s birthday that year, and I wasn’t to know but it ended up being his last birthday. It was held in the September and he died in the January.

I think it was my Dad that motivated me to do the Great North Run in the first place. My sister did it a long time ago, and he’d always said he was proud of her, and I wanted him to be proud of me too. When I look back on it, it’s strange that that year I was suddenly so determined to do the run. My sister did it that day too, although she was a lot faster than me, and I think he was very proud of us both when we came back with our medals.

I completed it in 3 hours and 22 minutes and I did the whole thing on a run/walk basis, which means I ran for a couple of minutes, then walked for a couple of minutes repeatedly.

Since then, running has really helped me get through the bereavement. I think it’s so good for your physical and mental health. When I go running I get to clear my head, and I don’t really think about anything else other than how I’ll get through the next half mile.

What do you like about running?

I like going running on my own, it’s time to myself, and I enjoy listening to my music while I run. Some people like running groups, but they’re not really for me. It’s the peace and quiet I like – being able to go out under my own steam and leaving the house with just a front door key and a bottle of water – it’s quite liberating!

How do you keep going when you really don’t feel like it?

It’s determination that really got me through the tough times when I first started running. I wanted to do it, and so I just did it. Initially I felt a bit self-conscious and was worried what people might think – a woman in her 40s running around, and not having the right gear. But eventually I just decided, I don’t care what other people think. I actually got a lot of support from family and friends, and still do. Occasionally someone will beep their horn at me, and I nearly always automatically assume it is someone having a laugh at my expense, only to find out later it was someone I know beeping to wish me well!

Running for charity really helps, because I get lots of encouragement from friends and family who sponsor me and that gives me added motivation to get out when I really don’t feel like it.

What are your running goals?

I recently completed my first 5k event where I ran the whole way. I was pretty slow but I did it! I’m now working on being able to run the whole way for a 10k. I’ve signed up for the Great Womens Run in Glasgow in June, which is a 10k, so the BfN virtual run will be perfect as part of my training. For me it is all about achieving my own goals and not worrying about what anyone else is doing.

03 Apr

6 Top Tips for New Mums who want to Start Running

trainers on fallen leavesIf you’ve recently had a baby, or even not so recently, getting back into exercise once you are a mum can seem like a big hurdle. Being active is good for physical and mental health, but taking your time and waiting until you feel ready to get back to running or any other exercise you enjoy is very important.

In preparation for our Mums’ Milk Run 2018 we asked some of BfN’s volunteers for their tips on getting active after childbirth. All are mums and have taken that first step back into exercising themselves, so they speak from personal experience alongside their breastfeeding support training. Thank you, Lindsay Cook, Sally Carter, Erica Harris, and Joy Jones for your tips!

1. Take it easy at first

Don’t expect too much from yourself. Pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond put your body through a lot and it takes time to recover. Every mum is different so make sure you wait until you feel ready, some mums are keen to get back to exercising quite quickly and others find they have other priorities once their baby arrives.

Lindsay and Sally advise that walks with the pram, or whilst babywearing, will be enough for most mums in the first few months. If you want to go to an exercise class maybe try and find one where the instructor is post-natally trained so you don’t over-do things.

2. Find a good sports bra

Lindsay says “Get a proper supportive sports bra (or even two layered up), there is nothing worse than trying to run with breastfeeding boobs bouncing around!”

For most breastfeeding mums the best choice will be a non-wired sports bra to reduce the risk of mastitis. It may be worth going to a store that offers a bra-fitting service and getting yourself measured to make sure you get the best fit, and the most support for your size

3. Planning is keycropped-milk-run-189x300

For Lindsay, planning was the key to actually getting out and running: “I have 3 children, the youngest is 3, and I found it hard to get back into exercise, I think it was because I was so tired and the windows for getting exercise in are so few and far between. I recommend planning ahead to make the most of any small opportunity you may get. I always fed mine immediately before exercise to maximise the time I had”.

4. Get into the habit

Another good planning tip from Lindsay: Have some time that is yours for exercise and stick to it, once the habit is formed then it is easier to stick to it.

5. You don’t need to feel guilty

Erica says “Taking time to run (or any activity that takes you away from your baby) does not make you selfish. I think some mums can feel that somehow they are. In fact exercise provides an invaluable space to be “you”. It’s restorative and is a form of self care, which is vital for all, especially parents!”

“And you’re modelling great behaviour for your kids – both because you are keeping fit, and because you are practicing self-care”, adds Joy.

6. Express!

Feeding your baby, or expressing before you go running will make it much more comfortable.

And when you’re ready for entering your first event, take Lindsay’s advice. “Express before you take part, I have a not very fond memory of expressing in the portaloos at the start of the London Marathon…I sterilised the equipment about 5 times afterwards!”.

Mums Milk Run 2018

mumsMilkRun]If you would like to start running, registration is now open for our Mums Milk Run 2018. It is a 20km virtual run challenge open to everyone, raising much needed funds for BfN’s work providing independent evidence-based support about breastfeeding.

A virtual run is a run done in your own time, you can run (or walk/cycle/swim) at your own pace and you can do the run in one go or over several smaller runs spread over the month.  You can complete your virtual race at the gym on a treadmill or running round your local area and you can do it by yourself or with your family and friends. There are four Saturdays in May so you could do the 20km by going along to your local Parkrun each week. There is no time pressure, this is all about raising funds and having FUN, plus you will get a unique BfN medal at the end!