The 2016 extreme skyrunning world champion and ‘the fastest woman over the UK’s highest mountains’ Jasmin Paris became a mum for the first time in November last year. In a follow-up to her running during pregnancy blog post – and to mark both International Women’s Day (March 8th) and Mother’s Day in the UK (March 11th) – we caught up with the 34-year-old inov-8 ambassador to talk further about pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood, family life and how all these things link back into her running.
How far into the pregnancy did you continue to run? Do you feel this helped you in anyway with the pregnancy and childbirth?
I was lucky to have a straightforward pregnancy, and I was able to carry on running until the day my daughter Rowan was born. I had a few weeks off somewhere around 6 months due to a sacroiliac (the joint between the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis) injury sustained whilst scything the wild patch in our garden, and towards the end I started to have occasional practice Braxton Hicks contractions which forced me to walk, but overall I think I managed to keep it up reasonably well. In fact, I took part in a short out-and-back fell race, Tinto Hill Race, just 10 days before giving birth, and still had a great time. I think that being fit was probably an advantage when it came to giving birth, especially since my daughter turned out to be an undiagnosed breech. In spite of the last minute surprise, I was very fortunate to have a straightforward vaginal delivery with minimal interventions.
A return to running
When did you first run post-child birth? How far was it? How did it feel?
I was out walking with Rowan in a sling the morning after she was born, and within a couple of weeks we were venturing into the Pentland Hills. In terms of running, I started at about 4 weeks with short (10-15 minutes) outings where I would jog for a few minutes, then walk for a few minutes, then jog again etc. Once I’d had my 6-week check with the doctor I started running more seriously again. Luckily my enthusiasm (which has tended to get me injured in the past) was kept in check by my desire to spend time with Rowan, so those first runs were never more than an hour long and hardly more taxing than the ones I was doing at 39 weeks pregnant. I did feel significantly lighter however!
Do you intend to try and get back to the race fitness level you had before getting pregnant? How long do you think this will take?
Yes, I’m keen to get back to running at my previous level, although exactly when that will be is unclear. I’m aiming to be racing seriously again in time for The Mourne Highline in April, which is the first race in the 2018 British Fell Running Championships, although I probably won’t be fully race-fit by then. After that, I hope a summer of Scottish and Lakeland races will set me up for the Trofeo Kima Skyrace in Italy in August, which is a race I’m really looking forward too, and would like to be competitive in.
‘Maternity leave training strategies’
How do you juggle being a mother with running and Konrad’s running too?
My husband Konrad and I have worked out a routine whereby I go running every day between 6am and 8am, whilst he looks after Rowan. This works well because Rowan tends to be in an excellent mood in the mornings, and therefore less likely to demand a feed, which is unfortunately something only I can provide. Konrad generally runs in the evenings after work, and Moss (our border collie dog) trains as often as he can, with anyone willing to take him!
I’ve also developed some innovative ‘maternity leave training strategies’ to increase exercise opportunities whilst Konrad is at work. We live beside the dam of a reservoir, which provides a nice steep slope for hill reps, as well as a 200m long flat stretch for intervals. All I have to do is to take the baby for a short walk to lull her to sleep in the pram, and then I park her up mid-slope/mid-interval, and train until she wakes up (or until I’m too knackered to continue, which doesn’t take long currently).
You mentioned breastfeeding, how does that influence your running?
I love the fact that I can breastfeed my baby, but it does create some additional challenges in terms of running. I have to time my runs around Rowan’s feeds (I’m trying to get her to drink pre-expressed milk from a bottle, but she isn’t too keen at the moment), and my bust is significantly bigger than it used to be, which has changed both my centre of balance and my power to weight ratio. Last but not least, I’m feeding an extra little human being – no wonder those hill reps feel like such hard work right now!
Do you use a running buggy?
We have bought a running buggy, and I’m itching to take it out for a spin, but I’m restraining myself for now. From what I’ve read, the medical advice seems to be to wait until head and neck control is adequately developed, at around 6 months.
A change in life perspective
Do you think being a mother now will change the way you race? (i.e. are you less likely to take risks on mountain ridges, that sort of thing?)
I think I won’t know the answer until I start racing again. I’m certainly more careful now when I have Rowan with me (motorway driving with her in the car terrifies me for example!), but I’m not sure this will extend to when I’m racing on my own. One thing I do predict is that I will be more relaxed. Since Rowan came along my perspective on life has changed, and the things I worried about before no longer seem very important. Whether this will also make me less competitive is another question…
How has being a mother changed your view of running, if at all?
It might sound like a cliché, but Rowan’s arrival has changed everything. I’m not sure whether running can ever be quite as important as it was before. That said, running is still my way of getting into the wilderness I love, still gives me that buzz and sense of freedom, and is currently also my only bit of ‘me’ time, so I know it will remain a significant part of my life.
* In 2016 Jasmin set an incredible new overall record time for the Ramsay Round, smashed the women’s best for the Bob Graham Round, was crowned world champion in extreme skyrunning and placed 6th in her first crack at the 100-mile distance at UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc). Before the year was out she had also set a new women’s best time for the Paddy Buckley Round, thus completing a record-breaking hat-trick of the UK’s premier 24-hour mountain running challenges. We can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store. Good luck, Jasmin!
* Influential blogger Run Mummy Run (otherwise known as Leanne Davies) recently tested the PARKCLAW 275 GTX running shoe. She said: “From hardened trail runners to park runners alike, the PARKCLAW 275 GTX really will suit everybody who runs multi-terrain routes.” Read the full review.