Information & Advice
I've got two children – Isla, five and Raphael, one – so I'm lucky my job fits around family life. I train for seven days, then have a day to recover and a massage. One day I'll do a long run of 23–24 miles and on the others I do two shorter runs – 11–15 miles and six to nine miles. So I'm only out for a few hours.
It took Isla a few years to realise that running was my job. I think she just assumed that all mums went for runs!
Even when I'm exhausted from training I always have the energy to play with the kids. If anything, they give me more energy because they do or say little things that make me laugh. At the moment Raphael has got this funny thing about stamping his feet and running up and down and jumping off things.
My kids often want to come to the gym with me. I do weights and core training on alternate days, and when I'm exercising at home, Raphael and Isla try to copy me – or climb all over me!
I continued running right up until the birth with both my children. Obviously I didn't train at the same intensity but it made it easier to get my figure and fitness levels back afterwards. I started training two weeks after the birth both times, too.
I've been lucky that the kids are good sleepers. They both started to sleep through from around 6–8 weeks old. If they do have a bad night I make allowances, accepting that I'll be a bit slower in training the next day.
My career takes me all over the world and I take the children when I can. Isla's favourite place was Ethiopia. She took part in the Great Ethiopian Fun Run for kids. It was only 1km but she loved it.
My children come to support me at my big races. I was racing in Berlin recently and my dad took Isla to stand at different points along the route. It was really nice because often I can't recognise individual voices in the crowd, but I could pick her out.
Before we had a family the flight home from a race was a chance to recover. But when you've got two children to look after on the plane it's a bit different!
When I have to be away from the kids it's really hard – on them and me. I was training in Kenya before Christmas and they stayed at home because Isla was in school and I thought Raphael was a bit too young to come.
I get a lot of help from my family when it comes to childcare. Just recently I had to go to New Mexico and my mum and Gary's mum each came for part of the trip to help look after the kids.
When you're happy you perform better. So I'm glad I didn't put off having a family because it was really important to me. If I finished my running career and realised I'd left it too late I would've been devastated.
My favourite thing about being a mum is simply watching them every day. They're learning new things all the time and it's special seeing them achieving things, like Isla riding without stabilisers or Raphael taking his first steps.
I'd much rather someone said I was a good mum than a good runner, though. Whether you win medals or set records, in the end it's just sport. My children are the most important thing. I want to give them the best start and the best support through their lives that I can.
Whatever career I pursue after running my children will come first. I always want to make sure I have enough time for them but I have to support them too, so I've got to work. I haven't put a time limit on when I'll stop running. I'll carry on for as long as I want to – and my body is able to.
When I have a day off, we spend it as a family. The children both love swimming and going to the park. And Isla is really into riding her bike. I think sport is really important for children: it builds confidence and it teaches children lots of skills, like teamwork.
As an athlete, I know how effort and determination can help us reach our full potential. As a mum, I see the same determination in my children as they learn to overcome everyday challenges through play. That's why I've joined Pampers Active Fit and the 'Pampers Little Athlete' campaign to encourage other parents to celebrate their baby's play.
Paula Radcliffe is a brand ambassador for Pampers, working with Pampers on its "Pampers Little Athlete" campaign to help parents celebrate their own child's play. To celebrate your baby's unique spirit of play, join Paula and Raphael on Facebook where, with the help of Pampers' baby development expert Maggie Redshaw, Paula and Raphael both had great fun learning through play.
Paula is also working with P&G on their "Thank you, Mum" campaign, to help improve everyday life for more than one million mums.
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