We are always inspired to hear about active families so here is a Q&A with Jen and Sim Benson.
Q1: so tell us a bit yourselves!
We’re Jen and Sim. We’re the proud parents of two lovely kids, aged 3 and 5, and we’re writers, adventurers and guidebook authors.
Q2: tell us about your running and buggy running, when do you do it and why?
We have both always been very active – running, climbing, swimming, triathlons – and we used to do a lot of that together. When our daughter arrived we had to find different ways of doing things – early mornings before Sim left forwork, weekends, tag-team training! We both found it incredibly helpful to keep running as part of dealing with that huge adjustment to parenthood, and it’s such a simple and time-efficient way to stay fit. When our son was born in 2014 we made the decision to stop working for other people and put everything into working for ourselves. Since then it’s been fantastic – it’s hard work and we never stop, but the balance between parenting, working and training is just right.
Amusingly, we hadn’t ever used a buggy before this year – we had always carried the kids – but then we discovered Thule’s new Chariot Cross and it seemed to fit perfectly into our lifestyle. It’s sometimes hard to get to the more remote places we need to visit for our job, and we often struggle with spending the time apart from each other and the kids when we’re training hard. Now we can talk about work projects or chat with the kids as we run, and take them to lots of amazing places, often just under our own steam.
Q3: how did you choose your running buggies?
Our buggy requirements were very specific, and before this year we hadn’t found one that worked for us. At the ages of 5 and 2 it was the first time the kids had been in a buggy, but we’re converts now! We love the Thule Chariot Cross because it’s really tough and rugged and deals easily with fast running along bumpy tracks. The suspension and comfort inside’s great and we rarely get any complaints from the occupants. We also love our bikes and the Chariot also works as a bike trailer, so we’re looking forward to some bigger adventures over the summer.
Q4: tell us about your books and why you do what you do
We love writing books that celebrate wild places and – hopefully – inspire people to go out and enjoy them. Our first book, Wild Running, was published in 2014 and details 150 running routes around Britain. We will have to do a buggy-friendly version… Our brand new book, Amazing Family Adventures, was published by the National Trust in April 2017 and has 50 great ideas for adventuring together, plus suggestions for where to go. We absolutely loved writing this book – National Trust places are brilliantly set up for families, with baby changing, cafes, playgrounds and nature trails, and lots have buggy and balance bike-friendly trails too. So the research was a joy to do. We have two more books coming out over the next year, and more in the pipeline, so things are busy but good.
We also edit the routes section for Trail Running magazine and we’re looking for buggy-friendly routes. If you have one you’d like to share with other runners and see published in the magazine email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you details of how to submit a route.
Q5: do you have any advice for parents looking to exercise again after having a baby?
Jen says: I found it really helpful to keep running through early pregnancy, and then walking a lot after about 6-7 months. It was much harder to do with my second one, already having a toddler in tow, and I definitely noticed I lost a lot more fitness that time around. As long as you’re healthy and your pregnancy is complication-free it’s a great thing to keep exercising as long as you feel comfortable. Post birth,start gently and build up slowly. Even if you’re an experienced runner it’s important to allow your body to heal and get used to running again. I started with a two-mile loop around our local lanes, taking regular walking breaks at first, and built up from there. Doing loops meant I could easily pop home if I wasn’t feeling great or was required for milk duties!
The buggy has been fantastic for letting us both train together, and taking the kids out too. We’re lucky enough to live near a towpath so have buggy-friendly running almost from our doorstep. Timing’s important, especially with younger kids, and it always works best to put them in the buggy when they’ve had a good run around themselves and are ready for a nap. We’re getting better at in-flight entertainment too, including I-Spy, singing, plenty of snacks and audiobooks. When we go on longer runs we also make sure we run to a café or a park so they (and we) can have a break at half way.
Q6: How can people follow you?!
We’d love to connect with some more buggy runners, so follow us and we’ll follow you back. Facebook: jenandsimbenson. Instagram/Twitter: @jenandsim
For more info about our books go to wildrunning.net or jenandsimbenson.co.uk