Following (slowly) in Mo Farah’s footsteps

My (very expensive) gym membership is up for renewal. The gym is near the office, so very handy, but I have been twice in the past three months. Should I continue? My running programme and the summer weather have combined to make it largely redundant, but when winter closes in I might regret it if I am no longer a member. Interval training in particular might be easier on a treadmill. I could avail myself of the company scheme I have set up for our staff to pay monthly, which would minimise the pain. But I remain in two minds.

The running continues, still far too slowly. But I have done something I never thought I would do, and entered myself for a public run. The Bupa Great Winter Run is in Edinburgh in January, which I thought (a) sounded rather romantic (I love Edinburgh), (b) is only 5k, and (c) is suitably far ahead that I might actually be ready by then. In fact, if you all start training now, you could join me!

My 5k ambitions are very modest indeed and not to be compared to Mo Farah’s. Bupa suggests moving to its second stage running plan when you can do 5k in 40 minutes, and I am not there yet.

Why am I still so slow? My colleague thinks it may be because I am running to very slow music. I got Cost Centre #1 to put some running music on my iPod at the start of the summer and he included both of Adele’s albums, which I enjoyed a lot but were not very fast paced.

The last week of August we were all in Portugal grabbing some sunshine and I went running every day. I have now moved to a playlist that he has thoughtfully entitled “CC#1 suggests that you run to this” which includes some faster tracks. (This is also a top tip for a Christmas or birthday present from the cash-strapped student to the mother who has everything – spend some time compiling music for her, she will never have time to do it herself.)

Two of my girlfriends were also in Portugal with their families. My Most Successful Girlfriend was there with her three Cost Centres – she gave up a glittering career in investment banking once #3 had come along and then devoted herself to their upbringing. The other day her 10-year-old asked her if she had ever attended university. At this point she suddenly realised that the first 40 years of her life, including her academic achievements and career success, were totally invisible to her children. In their minds she was a well-organised mum whose most important skill was being able to reverse a pony trailer.

So she asked me to explain to her children that she had a distinguished academic record, and had been a valuable member of staff at Goldman Sachs both pre and post IPO, and that they had not hired her for her reversing skills. My Medical Girlfriend has an eight-year-old who seems equally unaware of his mother’s career success, and was astonished to hear from me that I had used her as a case study in my book. “Has it sold many copies?” was his immediate response.

Yes, it has, thank you. Without presenting your CV to your children, how should you encourage them to see you as someone who did something useful and notable before and even since they arrived? Or doesn’t it matter? I have always thought that being a parent was not a job where you should expect any appreciation, that way you can always be positively surprised on the upside.

The running has made me feel much healthier, and lowered my blood pressure and my resting heart rate, but I don’t look much different. The disparaging tweets continue, including a comment about a green dress that I wore in a recent episode on TV – “Mrs Moneypenny looks like a hippo wrapped in a snooker table.” So I have decided to employ a running coach. I am determined to crack the 40-minute barrier by the time of the Edinburgh run, which I hope will be an achievement that my children will respect, and will possibly even remove the need for the gym membership.

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