Which parents are at the top of their game (athletically speaking) and juggle life with the help of a running buggy? When former interviewee, Ironman Sophie Bubb mentioned Ultra Marathon runner Lowri Morgan when I was interviewing her back in April I had to find out more about this glamourous TV presenter who also happens to be an adventurer an Ultra marathon runner.
Fast forward 6 months and through the power of welsh friends I was delighted to be able to have a chat with Lowri and find out a bit more about her buggy running. But first let me tell you a bit about Lowri’s amazing life to date (she is currently writing an a book about her running so watch this space for more details about that in 2018!)
Born near Swansea and now living nearer Cardiff, Lowri is a BAFTA and multi award winning television presenter, a World Class Ultra endurance marathon runner, having raced in some of the most extreme races in the world and an Adventurer. Lowri is one of only six to ever complete one of the notoriously difficult 350 mile non-stop footrace - 6633 Ultra in the Arctic.
A self-confessed adrenaline junkie she has represented Wales on the rugby field, in athletics, cross country and despite a serious knee operation and being told she would not be able to run competitively again, has competed in numerous marathons worldwide and completed the illustrious Ironman Challenge.
In 2009 Lowri completed the Jungle Marathon in the Amazon. In the heat and humidity of the jungle, out of the 150 top runners only 50 finished. She managed to finish the race in the top ten in her first ever ultra-marathon.
Having a baby clearly wasn’t going to stop a lady with this level of activity but maybe there was a team of people on hand to help this welsh supermum? I wanted to know more about how buggy running formed part of her new life.
“Getting a running buggy was my lifesaver. I was kindly given the Baby Jogger Summit X3 soon after I had my son, and it was immediately including in filming of the program I was doing at the time. It’s a great all-round buggy and goes everywhere with us. When I was pregnant I was worried about losing that momentum having run a lot previously, but I think being able to exercise during pregnancy helped me to bounce back quicker. Obviously, I would advise that mums follow the advice of a medical professional but having a buggy that was suitable for being outdoors really helped me both physically and mentally on my journey back to running. Working in the media I do not work traditional hours and I went back to work after 6 weeks. I have a funny memory of shooting an adventure program and having to rock climb up a cliff, then once I was at the top I need to express so I had to do that in an empty field full of sheep before abseiling back down to where my parents were looking after my son and we did a bottle pass over! I could never in a million years have imagined I would be doing that at some point!
I cannot emphasis enough how important having a buggy that enabled me to go out and run, was for my mental health. We would regularly go out, even in the rain, me, my dog and my son. Our running buggy is still our main buggy several years on. We would stop start to look at things like the ducks which became an interval session. I would sprint the 800m to the ducks. Rest for a bit and then jog on.
In terms of when we went, there was no specific routine. My son wasn’t a great sleeper at home and would only fall asleep in the car or buggy. So I would time the runs for when he was getting sleepy, maybe after lunch."
I felt very uneasy about returning to fitness knowing how horrid it is to feel unfit, so I asked Lowri what advice would you give mums who feel daunted about returning to running?
“It's always going to be hard, for everyone. Lower your expectations then work on it consistently. Before I was pregnant I completed many races of 100 miles plus, but I remember my first run vividly when I expected to go out for a gentle five or six miles but in the end I only did two miles and it felt incredibly hard. But it does come back, and I found I was able to be competitively racing a year after. Sometimes you have a bad day. But now I’m back racing even stronger and many mums have the same experience. (Paula Radcliffe and Sophie Bubb are just a few great examples.)
One of the things that has changed is that I’m not so governed by the GPS. Often, I just go out with my buddies (dog and son!) and enjoy it. Fitting in the training around my son was my priority. Sometimes it turns into an interval session. I will stop to see the ducks, 800m sprint, rest and then go again. Or maybe if he fell asleep I’d keep going as long as I could. Buggy running is difficult, but it is the best all over body workout; arms, core and legs! Mentally it was so good for me to get out, I could run and be a good mother. Not feeling guilty because I’m not away or not feeling guilty for not running. The nature of my schedule is that now I will often get up at 5am for a two hour run before my husband leaves for work is I want to run solo and get some miles in. My son was with me on shoots in the early days before nursery which he attends now.”
As a time pressed mum who has had a fair amount of injuries this year, I’m intrigued how she stays injury free? “I listen to my body. I know when to push or not, but I can only know this now based on my experience. Recently I started to get shin pain and before I sought treatment for shin splints I tried some new trainers which sorted it out. I don’t have a coach, it doesn’t really work for my schedule, I’m a bit of a nightmare for them when I say I’m off to film in Africa and won’t run for 3 weeks!”
And finally, I’m keen to know out of all these amazing adventures which was the best race? “The best race over all was the Artic race, completely humbling race, broke me and happened to leave me with shattered metatarsals. But when it comes to a buggy run I love my local parkrun, (Cardiff along the Taff trail). Obviously, I stood in the back with the buggy and when we got started my mind suggests that I get the pace up but rather than that I know it’s not about racing everyone but enjoying the camaraderie which made me enjoy it so much more. I loved it.”
So, like most of us Lowri loves parkrun! Isn’t that refreshing for a famous Ultra runner! I must confess I was a little nervous interviewing/talking to such an amazing (and rather famous) lady with my zero lack of interviewing/journalism skills but I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever spoken to a lovelier stranger! She was extremely generous with her time and is a huge advocate for running buggies in order to help more parents find the freedom they need after they have a baby. After one chat with her I was ready to set my alarm for 5am. I just wish she was around the corner so I could join her (keeping up might be an issue) she officially has a new #fangirl!
You can follow Lowri on Instagram @_lowrimorgan