Yet more beginners’ running (and some other stuff, too)

So, I have to be honest with you about something, which is not going to be fun to hear if you’re just wavering on the edge of putting your trainers on and getting out there. But I don’t say it to discourage you. On the contrary, I say it because you’re going to hit this patch, just as I did, and you need to know it’s coming and not let yourself get disheartened by it.

Here’s the secret:

Running – or any regular exercise worth doing – never gets easy.

Sure it gets easier to go further. And it’s easier to go faster. But it doesn’t get easy. And as soon as it’s threatening to, you have to dial up the input, and it gets hard again.

I’ve faltered at week six of the C25K. I managed the two interval runs (the second one after two attempts: two intervals of ten minutes are harder than one of twenty). But the 25 minute run has defeated me twice. The first time after 15 minutes – though I was generally not together that morning – and the second time after just over 20, which frankly I still consider a win.

I should do week six again and get my fitness up, but frankly the thought of doing those intervals again is making me want to cry. So I’m going to risk slightly messing this up and do my own deviation from the plan, which is a couple more 20-minute runs, then an attempt at three 25-minute runs and, should that go well I’ll rejoin the plan at week seven and do the three 28-minute runs followed by the three 30-minute runs.

Or, as I pointed out to Ash today: I’m two-thirds of the way to a 5k. A few weeks ago, I was barely a tenth of the way and was refusing to even think “5k” for fear I would totally terrify myself back onto the couch.

Part of the reason for the slow down is that as the runs are getting longer, it’s been harder to fit them in. I can’t run with a stroller, it bugs me, so I have to find time to go alone which means 6am. I’m often too exhausted, which means instead of going on a couple of consecutive days, then having one day off and going back to it, I’m sometimes leaving up to three or four days between runs and my muscles are not up to the next run. But I’ve managed to never let a week go by without at least two runs, preferably three, and I’m going to keep aiming for that.

When I go away I’ll be in the car for three days and I don’t think I’ll get to run. I’m also not sure if I’ll manage it around Athens, but I’m determined to get in some good walking and as much running and swimming on the island as I can for the week I’m there. Especially as I’ll probably eat my body weight in whitebait, octopus and fried courgette while I’m there, too.

That’s where you can stop reading if you were just here for the running. If you’re here for babies too – or just to read my ramblings – then you’re in luck…

I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think I’ve managed to make a shortlist of the things that were affecting Ramona and making her screech. As I’ve begun to address them – in as much as I can – I think I’ve made some headway and we’ve had a couple of much less deafening days. In addition, I feel a lot more in control of my parenting, or at least I have a far more convincing pretence of that.

So, the screech inducers are:

  • Me talking to anyone that’s not her. Especially if they’re on the phone.
  • Feeding frustrations.

The talking to thing I’m having to address with a bit of ignoring. Putting her down with toys and walking out of the room, or simply not acknowledging it and carrying on with my conversation. This one is clearly a long war, and it’s going to be fought battle by battle. And actually ever time I ignore her she learns something new, like how to stand up alone, or try to push herself upright, so bit by bit I’m learning to stop the rotor blades a bit and be less of a helicopter parent.

The feeding thing took me a few days to cotton onto fully. Because she weaned quite early, we didn’t go to baby led weaning route, but she came off purees quite happily a couple of months ago onto more chunky stuff. She had pretty much got to the stage where she could just feed herself finger food, and all was well. And then, a couple of weeks ago, just as the screeching reappeared, she started to bite, chew and then spit out her food rather than actually eating it.

For a couple of days I reasoned that it was a phase as she was examining textures. Though I fretted about the amount she was taking in, she wasn’t sluggish, drinking more milk or losing weight. She could – can – still eat bread and loves toast with cream cheese (just as well, as she refuses to eat anything else at breakfast, apart from yogurt). But gradually, she started spitting more and more things out unless they were in really tiny pieces. Soft ripe pear sticks that she used to enjoy were being sucked and spat; so was the odd baby cookie I gave her. The only things staying down were bread, sauces, yogurts, really overcooked pasta, strawberries and those carrot puff snack things which I occasionally give her one or two of.

So as I realised she must be hungry and frustrated and I didn’t want mealtimes to be reduced to hours of me feeding her tiny tidbits, I began reluctantly to reintroduce the stage we left a while ago: lumpy mash. I was scared to go backwards, as I thought it might be an eating phase and that I’d be stuck with a child still eating purees when she turns fifteen. But as she gratefully nommed it all, I realised this was very likely not a battle of wills or a preference or phases, since she actually really enjoys feeding herself (although doesn’t try to grab the spoon when it’s not quite solid stuff, weirdly!). It’s her teeth – or lack of them.

She’s been chewing her fingers like there’s no tomorrow, and even bit my chin with frustration the other day. She’s dribbling like a demon. After nine and a half months – six and a half of which have been spent showing signs of teething and full of frustrated gnawing – she still doesn’t have a single damn tooth. I didn’t either until I was about 11 months, so I think I might have sadly passed that on to her (though I’ll blame Ashley as he was a late teether too). So I’ve come to the conclusion that her gums are now just too sensitive to chew bigger lumps down unless it’s gooey, chewy stuff like bread or soothingly cold and smushy fare like strawberries.

It’s not an entire backwards step, as she’s still having some finger food, but she’s eating about three times as much and seems much more content. She’s sleeping as well as ever – if not better – and is happy with three hearty milk feeds a day, as well as producing several more grim nappies. She seems more content to play and surf the furniture with about a quarter as many bloodcurdling screams.

So there we have it. Why does my baby scream? Attention-seeking, hunger and teething.

The first I’m learning to take care of, the second is sorted and the third is being managed until it takes care of itself.

I’d call that a win… wouldn’t you?