Combining fatherhood and running.

Ahead of Father’s Day we spoke to one of our ATW Ambassadors, Mike Edwards. Mike is a 15-time half marathon runner – 2 of which he completed with a buggy – but above all else, a proud father to Jack. The family have completed multiple events together, with Jack on his 3rd medal already despite only being 1 and a half! We spoke to Mike to try and understand what fatherhood combined with running means to him.

“Parenthood has both made me faster, and made me slower too if that makes sense. My son is 15 months old, and we waited until he was 6 months old before he went in the buggy with my fiancée and I. In the early days, I would fit all my running around his naps. I would go out when he went down and try and fit in the distances I needed to do whilst he napped. But since he turned six months, the majority of my running has involved him in the buggy, which has slowed me down but has made me enjoy my running even more, especially when my fiancée comes with us.”

Mike explained to us how parenthood changed his mindset and perspective towards running. “Before becoming a father, I was always focused on times. Every training run, every Parkrun, every race I was always looking to PB. I had goal times in my head for distances, some I have achieved, and others still elude me. Now, I know when I run with the buggy, I am slower than when I run on my own, but that doesn’t bother me. I do have goals for distances with the buggy, one of which I achieved at the Essex Half Marathon earlier this year, but it’s more about being a good role model to my son.”

We dived deeper into the link between Mike running with his son, and being a role model for him – “It’s everything to me. Children are like sponges, and love to mimic what you do. When my fiancée & I play with him, he copies what we are doing. Both my fiancée & I are active people, and I hope by including him in our passion, it becomes a passion of his. But if he doesn’t enjoy running, I hope us doing exercise together means it’s something he wants to do as he grows older. Hopefully when he is older as well, both my fiancée & I are cool enough to join in with him!”.

Running was originally Mike’s ‘me’ time; a chance to be on his own with his thoughts, switch off from any problems and stresses, and just listen to podcasts. Now, running is family time. Mike and his fiancée run together often, whether that be at ATW events, or running 5 training miles on a freezing Valentine’s Day morning. However, Mike wasn’t always a runner. Him and brother signed me up to a half marathon after losing weight. Whilst this event (both the training and the race itself) didn’t fill Mike with enthusiasm, the feeling of pride after crossing that finish line helped him discover the love of running. Mike’s former “hate” for running saw him refuse to run in football training sessions. Now his love for running sees him spending even more time with his family… and loving it.

Finally, Mike gave some important and insightful advice to all parents:
“I would say include your children in whatever sport you do. Whether you are runners like my fiancée & I, swimmers, footballers, rugby players or whatever. You don’t miss out on goals when you involve them, like times with running etc, they just change and you make new goals that mean so much more when you achieve them rather than a goal you achieve on your own. In my opinion, the best purchase we have made since our son was born was the running buggy.”

Shout out to all the fathers and all the parents bringing sport to the next generations, especially those sharing the love and the life lessons that running (and other activities) can bring to young people.

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