Training for the 120 as a parent: A moment of reflection, by Jan Kotyk

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For those of you who don’t know Jan, he is a former Golden resident who has recently moved to the coast with his patient wife Erin, their adorable son Asher, and their pup Shivers. He is a doting dad, riotous runner, and hilarious addition to any race or bbq - if you’ve been to an Ultra, you’re likely to have run into Jan gleefully smiling as he crushes the Full Pint year after year. Jan started his first ultra essentially off the couch, and has been chipping away at his impressive ultra resume ever since! He has graciously and hilariously shared a few anecdotes about what training for our new 120 course with a 5 year old son is like:

I have run in the Golden Ultra each year since its inception. This will be my fifth year challenging the amazing single track course that Magi has drawn up. This is also the fifth year that I have been a father (6th year by Sept 27th)…

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So: every year that I have spent training for the Ultra has also been a year in training as a dad to our son Asher. These have been two of the most difficult and rewarding achievements in my life. When I signed up for the Golden Ultra this year, I decided to register for the 120km distance. That is twice the distance I have ever run at one time!!!

I have thought long and hard about the amount of time and energy I will need for training, and the effect that will have on my family, so I have decided to put Asher in a kennel until the race is complete. I’m sure they will give him the attention he deserves. (since beginning this essay, my research, has shown that there is no such thing as a “kennel for children whose parents want to run”, so it looks like I will just have to balance the two).

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Having a child doesn’t eliminate training opportunities, but it definitely restricts the times that you are able to do them. I used to be a fair weather runner, and I am very fortunate that my wife, son and dog love spending time outdoors, but it also means that if it is nice out, we try to do a family activity. This means I have to be prepared to run / train in less than desirable conditions. Sidenote: the race is to be held in the mountains…..so be prepared for a FAIR AMOUNT OF WEATHER.

I also don’t have the luxury of running whenever it best suits me. I used to run when I was stressed, or when I felt at the top of my game and was ready to turnout some quality km’s, or because I had too much time on my hands. Now I run around (mostly in circles chasing Asher) our schedule. Asher is 5 and a 1/2 (don’t forget to say the “1/2, or you’ll never hear the end of it) so between school, after school programs, and occasionally having to feed and water him is when I try to fit runs in. 

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Although having a child has changed my running schedule to be more fitting to his life, his routines, or lack thereof, I really believe it has made me a better runner. When I finally have some free time to myself, and my son’s secret box of lunch treats whispers sweet nothings in my ear, and the the weather man is laughing at my regions unfortunate forecast, I run. And those are usually the best runs I have, and most likely the best preparation for the Golden Ultra. 

After writing this I realized that a lot of people don’t know me or my humour. After this they might be ok with keeping it that way, so I will say this: I LOVE running, but I would give it up in a heartbeat for my son if I had to.

…I won’t lie, as soon as his contract is up, we’ll probably just get a cat (again, my research has ruined my plans).