Being a Daddy has certainly been an amazing experience, although trying to train at the same time has been tough. The pressure was off during 2017 as I was simply learning to walk and run properly again after the heel operation. At this point in time sleep deprivation didn’t bother me as much from a training perspective.
From Oct 2017 I started turning up to the odd Parkrun. I already had a running buggy on an extended loan from a friend. It was a basic but sturdy stripped-down bit of equipment with a fixed front wheel. Unfortunately unlike most of the higher range modern buggies there was no conventional suspension (through the frame). Instead, the seat would float freely. With this in mind and Annabelle only being 11 month+ I decided to only push her in the buggy as a warm-up or warm-down on flatter Parkruns (Hereford, Worcester). It was very hard to tell whether she enjoyed it or not. The fact she was quiet or asleep I took as a good thing. But I wasn’t comfortable enough to push her at a faster pace.
By this summer and I was starting to get some serious fitness back. I’d moved from Parkruns to local 10km races, and on 28 Jul I decided to do the Hereford Parkrun with Annabelle. I was keen to see how fast I could go with the buggy, compared to my ‘solo’ times. Hereford Parkrun is a lightly undulating 2 loop (+). We started mid-pack and moved our way through to finish in 4th with 20:14. Once again Annabelle was quiet throughout, although I was told after (and the photos showed) she was waving from the start. The jerky movements of the buggy (and Annabelle’s head!) worried me a little. I’d already been on the internet to make sure I wasn’t doing any harm to Annabelle. Although I couldn’t find anything, we decided it would be better to wait until we buy a new buggy before I did any more running with her.
In mid Aug I met with Wendy Rumble at RunningBuggies.com. She is based in Maidenhead and runs the business from home. I was able to chat about what I needed and then try out some of the new running buggies on the market. Very impressive equipment, and I was immediately taken by the two Thule buggies – Urban 2 and Glide 2. The main decision was whether I should go for the full on racing machine (the Glide), favoured by a lot of the running pros, or the Urban. The main difference was that the Glide had a fixed wheel, whereas the Urban had a swivel wheel with the option of fixing it. The Urban was also slightly more geared towards general use having smaller wheels and better storage. Considering the fact we needed a decent buggy for general use and shopping, I picked the Urban. First impressions were great, and it was a beautiful beast to be pushing around town. Even had a few comments from people. A lot bigger than our general pushchair but it felt robust and moved very freely.
On 8 Sep I did the Hereford Parkrun again with Annabelle. This time we started at the front, but because of some track work part of the loop (from the start) had a diversion on/off the playing friend and a small trench that required a bit of manoeuvring. We dropped back a few places and because the track is only wide enough for 2-3 people we were caught up for a while. Once a gap opened up we moved through into 4th and pushed on. Annabelle was not happy this time around. Unfortunately she now knew there was an indoor soft play area in the Leisure Centre beside the track and she preferred to be in there than covered up in a buggy on a cold wet morning. Fair enough I thought! After 1/2 laps I left her with Yve and ran the second lap solo. I closed down a little with a decent negative split and finished in 3rd with 18:30.
The Thule Urban although designed for the running option actually felt a bit more cumbersome and harder to control than our older, lighter fixed-wheel buggy. This is just what I perceived, as I’ve not done enough tests to prove it either way. There is a tiny wobble in the front wheel when it’s locked in a fixed position, and I know from my experience in cycling that these tiny differences can have an impact at higher speeds. It’s a fantastic buggy for the more recreational runner and for general use. But for faster paced running efforts it would be better to go for the Thule Glide or another fixed-only wheel buggy. Going forward I will at some point, when Annabelle is a little older, revert back to a lighter fixed-wheel only running buggy for any Parkruns and races. For training runs and hikes I will use the Thule Urban.
Regarding Parkrun – I love the events and appreciate the effort put into them. They encourage and provide a regular opportunity for people to start getting fit, socialise, or (at the top end) time-trial/race. You’ll always hear people moaning that it shouldn’t be called a race. But we shouldn’t forget that Parkrun first started out at Bushy Park as a time-trial/race, and the relevant websites will all feature various results tables including age group records. I personally will go 100% in every Parkrun I take part in. It breeds good habit. It also enables me to gage how my fitness is improving over time, gets me out of my comfort zone, I can challenge PBs, and I can race against fellow athletes from other races. It’s also fed through to Power of 10 and Run Britain, so I like to keep my data fresh. Parkrun is for everyone! And that means as much as we may sneer at the slower or faster runner, canicross and buggy runners…..we have to appreciate that we all have our reasons to Parkrun and accept it.
So having said that – one issue I have with Parkrun is that the final results table do not indicate in any way if the runner was solo, canicross or buggy running. I certainly wouldn’t want any extra work imposed on the Parkrun organisers or race day officials/marshals but this is something that could be addressed. A marker on the results list would be nice. This could be fed through from the personal bar code. But if I run with a buggy or canicross I would rather it didn’t get fed through to Power of 10 or Run Britain. This leaves me with the option of either not providing my bar code at the end of the run, or making up a second account (which is against Parkrun rules).
Anyway, Annabelle and I both love buggy running. If I’m not racing with it then it’s a handy for some shorter runs through town, and looks mean.