Fitness and Training in Motherhood

The Saturday before last dawned cold and bracing as Europe was hit by a Siberian cold snap. Not the weather for venturing into the great outdoors with a toddler who hates wearing hat, gloves and coat. Languishing in bed listening to BBC radio on the internet and drinking PG Tips (life abroad eh?) I had a brilliant idea. We could go to the little indoor climbing wall at Arriondas sports centre. Parenthood and the weather combined could not prevent us from climbing.

With its gentle slabby routes, lack of crowds (read: I’ve never seen another soul there), and vast gym hall for toddler romping, football and general shenanigans, it would be perfect for a chilled morning yet with a nominal ‘training’ label to make me feel virtuous. We even had a friend willing to accompany us and bring our team to the magic number 3 – one to climb, one to belay and one to tame entertain toddler at all times. (Understanding climbing partners are vital when you’re a parent.)

So off we trotted, with me feeling terribly smug. What I hadn’t realized was that since the last time we were there about a year ago, the wall had hosted an event in the Spanish Championships, with some of the world’s best sports and competition climbers in attendance (Ramón Julián Puigblanque anyone?). So they’d had to up the difficulty somewhat on the wall.

When I saw the 5 metre roof that they’d slapped on the top of the routes I was horrified somewhat taken aback. Roofs are not my thing. Roofs require power, strength and force of will. I’m more of a delicate, face-climbing, crimping (and sometimes, sadly, wimping) kind of gal. Now every single route had its finish at the outer end of the roof. I failed to complete a single one. :(

Me getting into upside down territory on the roof (shortly before I fell off)

I guess sometimes life just puts a roof where you didn’t expect one. And sometimes you feel like as soon as you clear one roof, there’s another one lined up that you hadn’t seen before.

That’s kind of the start that 2012 got off to for me – with one illness followed by another and then the wintry weather kicking in to curtail all outdoor activity. I was beginning to feel sorry for myself, as well as desperately unfit.

But I’ve discovered a few things about overcoming roofs. One is that training sure helps (go figure). Another is that a positive mental attitude is vital – you’ve just got to keep flinging yourself at the damn thing and, above all, don’t stop and don’t let go!! Tenacity rules.

So, I’ve decided to make sure and train in some way every single day. To make it possible to do this I’ve had to be clear that training has to be often home-based, brief and snatched while Jack’s asleep. But that’s the great thing – simple small things can make all the difference, as long as you keep doing them regularly.

So, take yesterday. It was another freezing day so I decided to stay in with Jack rather than go out cragging en famille but, before Richie left, he looked after Jack while I walked the dog up the hill and then, nicely warmed up, did half an hour of pilates/core stablility work with a tiny bit of weights thrown in. Nothing drastic but enough to make me feel good about myself and to keep my core strength building.

The surprising truth is that since Jack was born I’ve become fitter and stronger and more motivated than ever. Before that I had the luxury of thinking that training was a dirty word. I had plenty of time to get the exercise I needed more organically through the activities I did. Not anymore.

And so I’ve discovered the unexpected joy of a little focussed training, alongside the joy of getting my body back after pregnancy and breastfeeding, the joy of having some time that is entirely devoted to me in the purest sense and the joy of actually getting better at something.


  1. I found exactly the same to be true for me, especailly after having my second and last child, my son. I would put my toddler daughter and infant son in the stroller (her in baggage part facing backwards) and jog through our neighborhood. They LOVED it, and I felt very special after 20 minutes or so! Thanks for sharing your insights into your own increased appreciation for your special fitness time as a new mother!

  2. Hi there – I’d love to post this on and direct readers to your blog via it? Please let me know what you think – thanks! Georgina

  3. you rock! fact. that is all.

  4. Thanks for commenting on my Blog. Good to read another fitness journey after having kids! It’s stunning where you climb. What a great outdoors sport to be into

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