Everyone say hi to Andrew O’Brien, our newest Inspirational Running Dad! Andrew, from London, England, is 34 years old and father to his 14-year-old daughter. Andrew has set out to run 12 marathons in 12 months in 2013 to raise money for charity!
Last September I was fortunate enough to participate as an ambassador in the annual ISIS Foundation trip to Kiwoko Hospital in rural Uganda. I found the experience somewhat life-changing. I was hugely inspired by the strength of character and determination of the people I met. As a testament to this resilience, I have set myself a challenge of running a marathon every month during 2013 to try to raise as much money as possible through sponsorship for the very worthy cause of the ISIS Foundation.
What is your proudest running moment?
Completing my first race, the Kiwoko Chase – a 16.5km run in rural Uganda. The route was off-road through the bush – full of pot holes and dust – and there was a thunder-storm during the night so loads of mud and puddles to contend with. The last half of the race was uphill and it was hot and humid by the time we finished. The locals shouted Muzungo as we ran by (which means ‘white traveler’) and we received great support from all the kids on their way to school. Really enjoyed it!
How do you inspire your kid to run and/or exercise?
Sometimes motivating teens to exercise can be quite the challenge! By letting my daughter see how much I enjoy running and being physically active I hope to help her understand how good exercise makes you feel. Also, I try to let her pick the activities that most interest her, like doing Zumba with her friends.
How are you an inspiration to others?
As a newbie to running, 12 marathons in 12 months is going to be a huge personal challenge but after experiencing first-hand the daily struggles faced by communities and children living in poverty I feel compelled to help in whatever way I can. I hope my dedication and commitment will inspire others to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
What is your proudest parenting moment?
There have been many proud moments over the past 14 years so hard to pick just one! Some of my more recent favorites include: organizing and participating in a sponsored swim with her friends to raise money for The Stroke Association after her grandmother had a major stroke; completing a 20km+ bike ride through the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco across some very tough terrain and single-handedly designing and building my website for my 12in12 challenge, very impressive!
What is your funniest parenting story?
When my daughter was 7 or 8 she developed an interest in men’s health issues, aka mine! I guess she must have seen an ad campaign somewhere about testicular cancer as whenever I was taking a shower she would burst into the bathroom, shouting “Daddy, don’t forget to check for lumps!”
What advice would you give to running dad’s out there?
As a newbie to running myself the most important piece of advice I can give based on my own experiences over the past 5 months is to visit a specialty running store to get fitted for the right shoes for your foot type and style – I’ve got a couple of pairs now that I alternate between so they don’t get too worn out. Also, don’t try and do too much too soon and don’t overlook your running technique, as the correct form will help to reduce your risk of injury.
Achieving the right balance between work, training and family will probably require some adjustments to your normal routine. This might be tricky at first but stick with it as it gets easier – don’t lose sight of why you’re doing it. For my part I try to complete my long runs on Sunday mornings while my teen is still sleeping so I’m back before she emerges! Also, when I cross train in the pool she enjoys coming with me for a swim!