Sports Dad

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The carbon fibre horse – ready for riding!

I like to think of myself as one of the UK’s finest amateur athletes. You know, the kind that is perfectly capable of performing to a relatively high standard if they could be bothered; well that’s me. I am also very aware that I fall into the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ category when it comes to sports. I’m not bad at most things sporting but not ‘bloody amazing’ at anything. (This for me is a cross I have to bear…regrets of not focusing on one sport and pushing myself hard haunt me on a regular basis.) 

Whether it’s road cycling or rock climbing, football or free running, triathlon or tennis, I love it. Being active, travelling at speed (obviously not when I run) and getting the adrenalin pumping from the competitive and risky nature of various sports, is in my blood. 

However, the arrival of the baby places dads like me at a crossroads; a crossroad of considerations. Priorities are changing and popping out for a quick 30km cycle on a summers evening will probably require some forethought and planning at the very least. Or spending a fortune entering various triathlons throughout the season is perhaps a little irresponsible what with the inflation on nappies… 

I have a race coming up in September called Man VS Mountain. It’s run by a company called RatRace who organise all kinds of outdoor events throughout the year. (They also have a great shop with pretty good discount!)*

The race, in a nutshell, is 20 miles from sea level at Caernarfon Castle, up one side of Mt Snowdon to the summit and down the other side via a few obstacles such as abseiling, swimming and the ‘vertical kilometre.’ I’ll be chucking on the Salomon running shoes and NorthFace gear and pushing my heavy backside up that mountain! **

Now, I am only 26 and I do some kind of sport relatively often and so consider myself generally quite fit (in comparison to the masses; nearly said ‘massives’ then…) but even for me, this race does require some kind of training and preparation. There will be nothing worse than travelling to Wales, getting 4 miles up Mt Snowdon and having to be airlifted off to hospital… #embarrassing! 

But training with a 2 week old baby brings a certain level of challenge; namely timing challenges. 

#1 Do I go when he’s asleep and the wife is resting? What if he wakes? I don’t want the wife to have to get up and deal with him as well as everything else she has to do. (Breastfeeding)  

#2 Bath time? Well, I like to bath him so I’d be missing out on bonding time with him. 

#3 Once he’s gone to bed? Well, if I’m not thoroughly exhausted from being up all the night before, even training seems to take it’s toll at the best of times. Plus, if it’s dark, running off road is even harder. And the batteries are dead on the bike lights. 

#4 When he’s feeding then? Sounds stupid maybe, but a dads role during feeding is still really important. Encouraging mum and making sure she has what she needs. 

Time seems to go quicker with a baby anyway; so overcoming this challenge is probably harder than actually competing. 

Seriously though, I do believe that it’s important that dads spend time thinking about this. We all need our own time, our own space and our own freedom to explore the adventurous side to our nature. It therefore, has to be held in tension with the responsibilities of being a dad. (And a husband but this is TheDadsNet, not the husband network!) 

My (hopeful) aim, is that as I grow into this dad role I manage to hold those 2 things in tension; my passion for adventure through sports and being dad. It will be a skill to carve out appropriate times to train and develop a good ‘selection process’ on different races. 

Watch this space for more sporting posts including how I get on with Man VS Mountain!

*This is not a sponsored post…sadly…

**Still not a sponsored post… actually crying now… 

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  1. Ben jewess

    Hello TheDadsNet.
    Greetings from saudi.
    This is just the second post I’ve come here to read and it won’t be the last. Nice to find a site that’s fun and right up my street.

    As a dad of two girls (now 3.5 and 1.5) I totally empathise with you in reference to not finding the time for you time or exercise, its only now as the girls are older that I go to the gym or road running when they goto bed. Mind I still don’t think I’m right to use the children as a viable excuse for weight gain. Yet I’ll glady reference them as my reason for weight loss.
    What’s your aim for mvm? Is this the first thing like this you’ve tried? What’s your partner planning to to with baby whilst your doing the event? How’s your training regime?
    Sorry for all the questions.


    • Al TheDadNetwork

      Hi Ben,

      Thanks for your comment and lovely feedback! Pleased it’s hitting the mark. If you haven’t already, sign up to our monthly newsletter or subscribe and make sure you follow on Facebook / twitter etc etc.

      No worries about the questions, it’s good to have a dialogue. This is TheDadsNet after all!

      Children aren’t a viable weight gaining excuse although very tempting! I’ve gained a small bit but trying to shift it ASAP before the race. This is the first race I’ve entered like this, I was in it last year but couldn’t make it due to our miscarriage. I was fully prepared last year and compared to this year I was on track for 6 hours!

      My ambitious aim is still 6 hours, the fastest runners completing it in about 5. I’ll be hard pushed to get 6, so under 7 is a more realistic goal.

      The wife is staying at home with the baby. The old man is kindly driving me up there the night before and I’ll dash home straight after. It’s a weird feeling, but I don;t want to be away from the boy for too long.

      Training is tricky due to the baby, It’s just finding the right time! I went out today for a quick 10k whilst the wife met an NCT friend. That worked well. Not many mountains here to train on though…

      Have you got any events coming up?

      Thanks again for your comment.


  2. Ben jewess

    oh dear, quick version was that yes, am doing the MvM too! thats kind of how I came to find your site.

    Managing to get out for 1-2 interval runs per week (10kish 1+hr) and a big run on the weekend of +15miles, does this sound enough? We have no mountains here in Saudi either, plus I figure the hot weather (5am runs are still 35’+) will lend itself to faster or easier mileage come challenge day.
    Gained a load of weight during the 2 pregnancies, but taken the challenge head on since Christmas and have come from +106kg down to 81kg so MvM is the mini milestone/climax of what I’ve achieved so far… best I finish it then. Just the little feat of the abseil and the waterborne items too. how do you feel about those?


    • Al TheDadNetwork

      I don’t mind the abseil, but I just hope the water isn’t too cold. That’s cool, so you’re flying over for it?

      What time are you aiming for? Sounds like you’re doing more training than I am! You should be fine.

  3. Ben jewess

    oh no, i’m bricking it for both parts i think… we’ve booked with a local company for a refresher on abseiling for the Tuesday just so that it gives me the confidence not to face grind down all the crag…. just most of it.
    Yeah, we leave here next Friday for 5 weeks in the UK (1 week in N Wales, then 4 weeks home in S wales). Well needed mind as we haven’t left the middle east since Christmas, which is a bloody long time by expat standards. The girls are busting for rain and grandparents!
    Oh well that news fills me with more hope, i’m sure you’d still run 10k quicker than me!!
    Aiming I suppose for middle wicket around 5-30-730 hours as last years times looked to be 430-830, but really just finishing it will be the great thing.
    Despite being raised welsh I’ve never been up to north wales at all, so when we’re up there as a family we’re going up the railway the Wednesday before which should be nice!


  4. Ben jewess

    Took a job out here in the aviation industry as a 25 year old single guy 6 years ago and am now here with a wife and two kids, how life changes hey! Somethings out here are great for raising the kids i.e.usually pretty dry weather all year round, mind at the mo its too hot to go out and enjoy anything outside. It makes you appreciate such a variety of things such as grass, rain, snails crawling up walls funny things really.

    Well ill be honest about running together, it sounds ideal as the cajoling and banter should help!! Just have a hanging desire that I may hold you back as I’ve never run with any one before. Is your old man and you staying in Caernarfon the night before? were staying about 40mins drive east of Llanberis, but as per the email this week we shall be heading to Caernarfon sometime friday afternoon for registration.

    • Al TheDadNetwork

      I can imagine that is the only time anyone would miss snails. (Except French people)

      I imagine it’d be the other way round.

      Yeah, we’ve got a room in a b&b tight in the town just round the corner from the castle.

      I’m working that day, so won’t get to registration until 8-9pm…traffic permitting! Could be interesting.

    • Ben jewess

      Eek that is cutting it a bit fine. Open till 10pm I believe though. Here’s hoping the traffic is kind.
      I’d be happy to share the run and to help each other up and over the bump that is snowdon. I’m definitely going to need coaxing for the abseil and water sections.
      How’s you kit prep going? I need a few more bits ie base layers top and bottom, jacket and gloves. Oh. And first aid kit. Oh and energy gels. Bit of a shopping list to go but they’re gunna have to wait till we touch down as what little we can get out here is poor quality and or expensive.

      As for missing the snails, there’s a great load of things that are quintessentialy British that we both love to show the girls when we get back on UK soil.

    • Al TheDadNetwork

      I know, the traffic on a Friday evening should be coming the other way though – have to wait and hope!

      I have all the kit from last year, but to be honest, I travel and race light! Shoes, socks, shorts, T-shirt, light weight jacket in the 10L rucksack and a hat. I have some gloves, first aid kit and survival blanket. What kind of hat do we need? Cap or beenie?

    • Ben jewess

      Oh right that level of kit sounds ideal but the recent email from rat race indicated that full leg covers and hydration pack are mandatory. I’m set to get some anyways as running out here in 35′ it’s gunna be chilly for me.
      I’ve currently rocking a cap but shall invest in something warmer to take too. Same as you I’m loathed to load up too much as my camelbak had limited storage (some external bungees and small pockets) and I may get a bumbag style thing to pack clothes in. Or grub. Never forget the grub. Haha. My wife is online to make honey oat raisin flapjack goodies and that should see me right!
      Getting excited now.
      Went to the treadmill on the weekend and sold my soul doing nearly 2.5 hrs. Made all the more manageable by running to this video:

      Man vs mountain 2013 (three times over)

    • Al TheDadNetwork

      Oh yes, I have a hydration pack as well – but not leggings… think I’ll get away with it? No point in carrying kit I definitely won’t use – and in the water too, leggings might be worse. In all honesty, I’m not looking forward to the obstacles – just the mountain running.

      Ooo… she’ll have to email me the recipe and I’ll get my wife onto it!

      Good work on the treadmill.

    • Ben jewess

      I plan to start in shorts, long sleeve base layer and tee. But then have leggings and water proof jacket (maybe a warm upper layer too)
      Yeah the obstacles on that video I linked ya to look simple but ghastly at the end of such a distance. Plus at the start of the vertical km can shed any layers, leave them with your bag and meet them at the end.
      What email address should I send it to? It’s a relatively simple recipe born from our exploits during slimming world but crafted well for energy.

      Add me on fb if you’d like it’s easier for notifications to continued correspondence.

    • Al TheDadNetwork

      Happy to add on Facebook – but the more comments I get on here the better it looks… ;)

      At the end of 18 miles, anything looks ghastly, let alone swimming in cold water!

      You can send it through the ‘contact me’ page on the blog? Is that ok? Thanks, anything that has potential energy is good in my books! I’d eat crap if it helped me get to the end of the race.

    • Ben jewess

      Sweet ok, I’ll get her to forward it I think its simply ground oats raisins and honey with some nana thrown in too then mix and bake for 10 mins, basically healthy hearty flapjacks.

      Right, we’re all packed here, I’ve not got a UK mobile number yet until maybe Sunday as were going asda then for the ‘big’ shop lol so I’ll pick up a new sim then and get in contact with you about meeting at the start. A thought I had is what starting wave were each in. I’m in the 0815 wave hopefully this is the same (or changeable to make the same) as each other.

  5. 25castleson25clouds

    My ex was very into taking part in rat race events. I had the most amazing time supporting him at one once, he did the triathlon thing but while me and a friend (who had come along to keep me company not support the ex) took advantage of the fact it was sponsored by a wine company. He came back slightly worn out to two slightly drunken supporters!

    Have you discussed this with your misses, surely she may be able to advise when it would work best for her to train so you can do it without the guilt?

  6. 25castleson25clouds

    I once supported my ex at a rat race triathlon. Well I say supported, took advantage of the sponsors been a wine company while enjoying the sun. But it was a great day out!

    I’m assuming you have spoken to your missus about this? She may be able to advise when would work best for her and so you needn’t feel guilty about taking some time out?!

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