Daddy cool

Danny Coyle

Friday, 27 July, 2012

MR Editor Danny vows to return to morning running to beat 'Fat Dad Syndrome'

It was a quip from a friend (he was my best man – I should’ve chosen better) that got me thinking. “You’ll soon have Fat Dad Syndrome, don’t you worry.” He’s a PE teacher, he plays rugby and lifts weights the size of cable cars, and he’s not a dad, yet. So he was well placed to mock the physical degradation I was potentially facing following the birth of my first child. I’ll admit, since she came into the world in May last year I’ve run less. But for the rest of 2011 I like to think I kept it up. I set PBs on the Men’s Running towpath challenge, I completed the Royal Parks Half Marathon dressed as a giant squirrel, and I spent three days running around the vineyards of the Languedoc, scaling some mountainous terrain in the process. But there were niggles appearing by the end of last year and Christmas brought with it the usual excuses for piling on the weight. The baby was growing up as well. She needed more attention. Then my wife went back to work and our lives took on the routine of dropping off, picking up, rushing home and getting work left undone n the office finished at home after she was bathed, fed and eventually persuaded to sleep. Where was the time for running?  

 Finding time

  If they all sound like excuses then they are. In the feature I deliberately commissioned to find some answers in the June issue of MR, we found some case studies of guys who were in the same boat and still managed to fit running in – some of them still clocking up huge mileage. Having just about got over my injuries, I am fit to run again. I managed a 10k and 5k race two weeks ago and have my sights trained on this year’s Royal Parks Half (sans ginger body suit this time). But where to fit the training in? Erin is one, she walks, sort of talks and is so much fun to be around. We both hate that we only get to see her in the morning when it’s all about dressing, feeding and depositing either at Grandma’s or the child minder’s, then in the evening when we pick up, feed, bathe and out her to bed. Time for enjoying her is at a premium, and when it’s a choice between that or a long run, I find myself choosing her. The challenge is to build running in somewhere, because my friend’s prophecy is starting to manifest itself around my middle and under my chin. When I worked closer to home and didn’t have a baby, mornings were my running time. I trained for my first marathon in 2008 with 90 per cent of the five sessions a week completed before the milkman had finished his rounds. I loved it. In the September issue, we speak to experts and cite studies that prove mornings are best for exercising, too, so I need to get these sessions back.  

 Morning glory

  I squeezed 15 minutes in one day last week. I was up at six, gave Erin her bottle then slipped out of the door while Laura got ready, dressed the baby and gave her breakfast. We were are still out of the door - me to drop off at Grandma’s, Laura to go to work, by the usual 7.30 deadline. By quick thinking and job sharing I had built a run, albeit a short one, into my morning. Next week, I might try and get up 15 minutes earlier and add five minutes to my run time. I’ll slowly creep that time forward as the days go by and eventually, my plan is that my morning training will be back as part of my life, with no detriment to the rest of mine or my family’s routines. I need to do it, not only to be fit for 13.1 miles by October, but for my sanity. A busy job, long commute and hectic weekends can leave me flaked out and feeling rubbish. After just one 15-minute morning pant, the world felt like a better place, my mood was much improved and another busy day seemed something to embrace rather than just another one to survive. The other guys and girls in our offices are the same. We’re all busy, we’re all stressed, but snatching that half hour at lunch, or in the morning, to blow out the cobwebs and clear the head make the challenges of family and work not only seem easier to deal with, but more enjoyable. None of this is anything I didn’t know, but after a long time going without the benefits running brings, it feels good to have them back again.  At the end of August I get to return the favour for my best man. At least my morning running will make sure I fit in the suit.

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