Here is an interview with one of the members of our Facebook community, Buggy Runners. I was hugely inspired so wanted to get the lowdown from Lee.
Q: So tell us the basics!
I'm Lee, aged 36, married to my amazing wife Kathryn and have a little girl Ella, aged 15 months. I'm an Air Traffic Controller and we live in Luton.
Q: When did you start running and what has your journey been to your latest Duathlon/Triathlon achievements?
My background is in cycling, mainly mountain biking which I started in around 1996. But have been pretty active throughout my life.I started running late 2013 spurred on by a successful ballot for the London Marathon and after the initial 'Oh what have I done!' I got stuck into the training and it kind of went from there.I enjoyed the easy accessibility of running, pop on trainers and kit and head out the door. I find it a great way to clear your head and take in your surroundings.As I ran more my times started to drop and I started to become competitive, finishing my first half marathon in 1 hour 27 and then the London marathon in 3 hours 45. London was tough and it broke me, never underestimate that distance and treat it with the respect it deserves ha ha.I continued to run and cycle separately for a period, along with my wife Kathryn who is a keen athlete herself, specialising in triathlon. We have always been active for the 10 years we have shared together, the highlight being our honeymoon when we rode to 1000 miles through Tibet and Nepal, including a trip to Everest Base Camp.Whilst kathryn was pregnant, I entered a local duathlon, run 10k bike 20k run 5k and finished 2nd. A friend suggested I might be able to represent Team GB in my age group, which I thought was a joke initially, but it seems he was correct as I was selected for the squad in 2016 to travel to Transylvania, Romania to compete in the Cross Duathlon European Champs.Our daughter, Ella was born in December 2015 and thanks to my hugely supportive wife, I was able to fit training around a busy work and family life, often training at 5am or late at night.Ella's first trip abroad, was in April 2016 at 5 months old and a great success all round, as she was as good as gold and I secured a bronze medal in my race.This year I have been selected again to represent Team GB at the European Champs and hope to live up to last years performance.
Q: Tell us about your running buggy! Where did you buy it? How did you choose it and how often do you run with it?
With time being a premium I wanted to be able to run with Ella, both for training and social running and helping her explore her surroundings. Kathryn and I regularly run at Parkrun events so looked initially a specific running buggy, but as keen cyclists we also had thought about a trailer. This is where the Thule CX1 came in as it covers both of these disciplines perfectly. Its strong, rugged design is perfect to take the knocksand abuse the outdoors has to throw at it, along with the waterproof cover and uv screen to protect it's precious cargo from the elements. The switch between cycling and running is as simple as a couple of button presses. Ella absolutely loves her Thule buggy and her face lights up when she sees it. Our good friends, Sam and Luke recommended the Thule CX model as they have twin version and are regulars at the Northern Parkrun events.
Initially I was very cautious when running with Ella, but once I realised how supportive and cushioned the ride is, I could open up my legs and let it fly. It's pretty light and requires only one hand to push and turn, I tend to use two hands pushing uphill and I don't find that it adversely affects my running posture. Ella and I recently finished first at our local Luton Parkrun in 19:16 so it's no slouch.
Q: Why do you enjoy buggy running and what would you say to encourage others?
I'd recommend to all Mum's and Dad's to look into buggy running, it's a great way to keep fit and explore the great outdoors. With the boom of Parkrun, everyone has an accessible social group of runners, joggers and walkers on their door step. It's a great example to set to our children, the next generation, that a healthy active lifestyle is fun and whilst running may initially be challenging the rewards are great.The longest Ella and I have run is 90 minutes so far, tempted to do a half marathon with her. This is a great bonding opportunity, but also a great opportunity to give Mum a break as well. I get odd looks as I run down the road singing baa baa black sheep or various other rhymes.
Unfortunately in the modern world there are too many false idols, celebrities and icons that I personally do not feel are the best role models for our children. One of the reasons I compete and push myself is to be a positive role model for my daughter and to hopefully inspire and motivate other friends or parents to push their boundaries, get uncomfortable and sweaty once in awhile and show our kids what a true super hero looks like 😂 I'll get down off my soapbox now ha ha!!! Hopefully Ella will grow up seeing Kathryn and I enjoying an active lifestyle and follow suit.
Q: Any tips for increasing the pace with the buggy? And how you you politely navigate people during runs?
With regards to running faster, I would start on a flat smooth path or tarmac area and build up speed gradually. Maybe run 100m intervals, with rests in between to get the feeling of the pace you can run at. You'll be surprised how close to normal pace you can run even with the buggy. As a guide at Luton Parkrun, my solo pb is 18:05 but Ella's buggy pb is 19:16 so not a huge difference. I'd imagine for most maybe a 2 minute difference would be expected.
Q: Any top tips for new buggy runners starting out?
Try to maintain good posture, I always try to imagine a piece of string attached to the top of my head pulling me up, to avoid the dreaded slumped hunchback bum out running style. Hills are good as a form of resistance training, down hills exercise caution as a trip could prove costly. Remember though why you are buggy running, it's to share the adventure, for fun and fitness and whilst my pace may seem fast, I always put Ella first and wouldn't risk her safety.
At Parkrun with such a mixed ability field, you will inevitably be passing runners, which always raises a laugh or a comment about batteries or engines. I always shout in advance buggy on your left/right to alert the runners which side I intend to pass on, this is a common thing in cycling and has served me well with the buggy, followed by a cheery thankyou. I have never yet received any kind of negativity from any other runners, but that is probably testiment to the cheerful lot that we are.