17 Sep

Who's the Daddy?

Mo Farah Dad

In the last year or so, I have felt a new dynamism in my running. I feel motivated and strong. With a marathon to tackle in just over a month, I feel better equipped than ever to improve my personal best.

I can put it down to a variety of factors. I have joined a club, I have taken a more measured approach to my training regime and I have added much more core work. But there is a non-scientific element which I really feel is playing a part. I am a parent. I really believe being a father to my 20 month old twins is benefitting my running.

There was so much in what ‘Supermum’ Jo Pavey said following her medal success at the European Championships and Commonwealth Games this summer that resonated with me. She told the Daily Telegraph: “I put my recent success down to the fact that being a mum makes me really happy.

"The children are always my main priority and I want to give them the best childhood possible. I used to get stressed out about training and worry so much about hitting targets at the track, but now I’ve learnt to just keep plugging away and hope the fitness will show through in the end.

"The kids obviously mean I’m slightly more tired when I go for training sessions but at a competition, when I get a few days off to focus on running and my body has a rest from day to day chores, I perform better. It seems that motherhood has made me more resilient.”

Now, I’ll never be able to relate to what it’s like to win European gold. But I can relate to the happiness, the ease of stress and the extra resilience.

Before becoming a father, a long evening run would hang over my work day like a black cloud. I love running when I’m actually doing it, but I haven’t always loved the thought of running. These days, with work and family life so packed, there really is no time to worry about it. So you don’t, you just do it when you can. It toughens you up and gets your priorities in the right order.

When I do go running, I often think of my children. Quite simply, they give me happy thoughts and make the whole experience more enjoyable. Paula Radcliffe won the 2007 New York Marathon ten months after giving birth to Isla and said: "Generally, the happier I am, the better I run. Certainly I'm a lot happier with Isla in our lives."

It was only when Mo Farah became a husband and father that his performances improved from international class to dominant champion. His first port of call after every gold medal winning run are always his children from the crowd.

My own autumn marathon plans changed recently. I have pulled out of Loch Ness on 28 September due to a work commitment, instead I will run the Dartmoor Vale race on 18 October. I was initially disappointed as I was looking forward to the trip to Scotland. But, the new plan means I will be racing much closer to my Devon home. Better still, it also means my twins can come along to cheer me on. The thought of that makes me happy and – hopefully - faster.