Sean Peckover is a great mate of mine and also author of Runpexrun is someone who I have always looked up to and more so now then ever, as I believe Pex to be one of the most committed family men getting around today. So quite fitting for the first interview of DADS – check out what he has to say below, it will be honest, open, to the point and inspiring!
Q1. Pex, I hear if it wasn’t for a chance foot rub the Peckover’s today may not exist 🙂 – So mate tell us the one thing that you have kept at the forefront of your relationship with Bel, over the past 9 years that you’ve been happily married 🙂
Bel and I were are quite simply an opposites attract type of couple, she is so caring and selfless whilst I can be quite self-centered and motivated to achieve very personal goals. The main thing at the forefront of our life together is the share of a set of very strong values, family, commitment and growing together. It feels a bit weird writing it, but essentially we have the same outlook on the way we which want to live our lives, and thus the same outlook on parenting (give or take a few things which we uniquely bring to table).
Being physically attracted obviously is the start of things, but I can seriously say I have never met a nicer person. She always puts everyone’s needs first, which can be frustrating as the husband, but it makes her the most perfect mum.
You became a farther quite young, do you feel that you missed out on the crazy end to your 20’s part?
For me personally, and this is something Bel and I spoke about before we got married, I hadn’t done the overseas travel thing. So it was either we do that in our mid 20’s or start a family and do that in my mid to late 30’s. My boys will be 9 and 6 this year, so when Hayden is 19 and Joel is 16 I’ll be 43. I think I’ll be in pretty good shape to be able to snow board, mountain bike, surf, trail run, white water kayak, climb summits, do Ibiza, Cancun etc. I don’t see it as missing out on anything, more just a time delay in when I will get to do it.
If you think really far ahead it gives us the best chance to spend time with the boys whilst we are still young and capable.
Also my liver also thanks me that I didn’t end my 20’s like you did!!! HA HA HA
Was fatherhood something you always wanted, or did you need time to grow into the role?
For me fatherhood is something that I really wanted, I felt really paternal from the moment Bel and I started talking about kids. However, as you know, there is nothing like learning on the job. The first nappy I ever changed was Hayden’s first poo. The first baby I had ever bathed was Hayden. SO in hindsight I was pretty green, however it just felt right.
There have been times that I am sure every parent feels like, the whole part of raising a child is too overwhelming, but we try to take it a day at a time and reflect on how we can improve as parents regularly. It’s certainly not all Instagram family moments.
I remember when Hayden was born it was quite the crazy time, thinking back to that amazing time now, what would you tell every new dad to be aware of?
We laugh now, but we skipped the session on Postnatal Depression, Bel and I both thought
“that isn’t for us – we can’t wait to have this baby”. If we had gone to that session we might have recognized the signs of her PND earlier. I had just started a new job and had to travel away for training for it. So whilst we were at home, I just assumed the tears and anxiety were normal, but it was getting worse not better. When she finally went to the Dr. he diagnosed it straight away and she got treatment. So for new dad’s I would clue yourself up on making sure you have the support networks for new mums, and try to be in tune with their mental health. You need a healthy mum and a healthy baby, most of the time you just worry about the bub.
The only other advice is to agree on a list of tasks which you will do (I love lists). As a baby I used to get up change the boys, then bring them in for a feed. That was my part. When Hayden got older I used to give him a bottle in the middle of the night, just so Bel could grab a bit more sleep. As they got older, I get the boys breakfast everyday so Bel can sneak a bit extra sleep in. I also do 95% of all of the dinner meals, normally whilst Bel is on her afternoon walk. It might not sound like much but if you do the same thing each day, it all adds up to helping reduce the workload needed to keep a house running smoothly and a happy wife and kids. Structure is good for us, predictability is also good.
The going back to work thing, how did you ever feel that first day back?
I constantly feel like I should be somewhere else. The only time I feel “relaxed” is when the kids are asleep. So running early when the boys are asleep is guilt free, but running in the afternoon when they want to play feels terrible. If I am at home, not at work, I feel like I should be working, and when I’m at work I feel like I should be at home helping. Those feelings change as the kids are now both at school. The hardest part in going back to work is the travel. Being away and missing out on new little moments. Having the kids cry over the phone cause they miss you. That’s the hardest part.
What’s the best things about being a DAD to 2 boys?
Seeing them develop and demonstrate values and positive behaviors that Bel and I both share. Joel is so much like Bel, he is a kind caring soul. Hayden is much like me, being outgoing and super optimistic. When you hold your own son for the first time, there is nothing like it. Nothing can compare to it.
Bel and I share an active lifestyle, so the boys are encouraged to be outside more than inside. I don’t want their time spent in front of a TV playing video games (we don’t own a game console of any type) so we all often are out riding our bikes, kicking the ball, swimming etc. I love watching the kids learn and explore, ask “why” and be able to give them the answers (or search it on Google). Couple of great “Dad” moments are teaching them to ride their bikes with no trainer wheels, which is more about giving them the confidence that they will be ok and can do it. Watching them surf a wave in at the beach on their body boards, getting an award on school assembly. Reading and writing their own name. There are too many to list, but each stage of their development has its own great dad moments.
Over the past nine years you’ve competed in and trained for a number of marathons and ultra-marathons, these are both physically draining and time-consuming events, how did you manage to train, work, be a husband and dedicate time to Hayden and Joel?
Well I don’t train as much as others. So unlike yourself or Jason or Ben I am not fully psycho about over training or super huge volume. Before Joel was born, all I did was go to the gym and go through the motions. I then put on some “baby weight”, then started to train for my first marathon at the start of 2009, when Joel was 3 months old.
For me I am a single sport person, so the time invested is much less than triathlon for example. I can generally get in 12 hours a week quite easily, mostly whilst the boys are asleep. The only clash being a Saturday on a long run, when I get back just as they are getting up.
The biggest part of it for me was getting Bel to “sign off” on the event and recognize the commitment etc. Most of the time she really only notices the extra clothes to wash, if I have ramped the training up. I simply just get up earlier to get more time in (which I know most other athletes do). Like I said before, I never train in the afternoon. When I get home, it’s my time to play with the boys, so Bel can chill out, go for her walk etc. Bel and I also don’t do many “date nights”. If we go out for dinner we take the kids, so we are always together as a family. The last part is really the boys needs come first. So in order, the boys, Bel, training and work are the priorities.
Did you ever feel selfish, if so how did you overcome this?
The selfishness comes in waves. Normally when you are away at an event, having a few beers after a race, it’s the part where you think “I wish everyone was here”. Also the spending family money on a personal pursuit feels like a waste. In 2012 I travelled way too much for running, that money would of paid for an awesome family holiday overseas. In hindsight I need more balance with racing, which last year I went the total opposite and didn’t race at all. There is a mid-point, which I hope to find this year. Like I said before, the key for me is to train when it least impacts upon the family. The boys want a dad who is there to hang out with, not off training with his mates, or at the pub or the strippers.
Tell us how you structured your training, what worked and what didn’t?
For our family it works best if I get up, about 4.30am-5am, coffee then get my session in, then home by 6.30-6.45 as the boys are waking up. Us 3 boys have breakfast, I shower then head to work to start at 7.30am. If I have auxiliary work to do in the gym, or do some Crossfit it will be at lunch (we have a gym at work). Only Saturdays will I be back after 7am or 8am depending on the distance of my long run. I rarely if ever run in the afternoons, that’s Bel’s time, plus in winter the boys have footy training. So it’s a pretty good deal – very minimal disruption to the family routine! I couldn’t spend super amounts of time away from the boys on the weekend, I didn’t have kids to fob them off, kids don’t want stuff, they want your time and attention. Which sounds a bit “preachy” but that is my view on parenting, which might not be shared by your readers!
What doesn’t work for me is running when the kids want your attention, like afternoons are when we are out kicking the ball or playing with other kids in the street (or doing homework). Like I said, I cook the evening meals, that’s my job in the family. This couldn’t happen if I am off running 3 nights a week.
Travel, many of these events involved you leaving home to compete, walk us through leaving the family at home to compete?
Travel (unfortunately) has been part of my work cycle for a very long time. As the boys have gotten older they just want to know that you are coming back and that you will be there for them to hang out with. Like I said we do a lot of stuff on the weekends together so if I am away running a race it is quite noticeable to the boys. Travelling through the week for work is much easier as they are both at school now. I prefer to fly out Saturday, come home Sunday night. Which isn’t much time to soak up a race, but is a way of not impacting upon the family too much. Also keeps the costs down. Flying is obviously the best way to travel as you don’t need to waste a whole day etc in the car each way. I’ve found it better to fly and pay the bit extra, allows you to get home quicker (although I secretly love a road trip).
Tell us your goals now, and how they have changed throughout your fatherhood journey?
At this point my goals are more about getting back to enjoying running. If you read my latest BLOG I have moved past competing to simply enjoying back running. I love the marathon, and enjoy the longer running as a process to clear my head and place my thoughts in order. My goals this year is to run another 3 marathons, which will take me to 10 overall. By October I plan to be in decent shape to have a crack at a new Marathon PB (mine is 3.45). Although I won’t hang myself if this doesn’t occur. I am not going to waste money and time by travelling to do shorter events. Travel is reserved for Marathons only. I am not the fastest marathoner nor am I the slowest. So middle of the pack is OK with me.
Ok the big one, what’s your secret to becoming a committed family man, while still being out their achieve your own goals?
I think most new dads want to improve upon what their father’s did. So for me I am conscious of being an active part in what my kids lives and being there to spend time with them on a regularly daily basis. I have had plenty of opportunities to work away potentially earning a lot of money but I can never justify missing out on the boys growing up. My dad worked shift work, and I hated that I didn’t see him. I hated that he worked weekends and he missed coming to watch me play cricket. As a husband I’m committed to listening and growing with my wife. Those are things which I am committed to do. I am sure I am probably over compensating. HA HA HA.
Finally the best DAD moment, thus far?
The birth of each of the boys. Bel had them naturally and I got to hold them when they were minutes old, which is something very special. There is also those “Wonder Years” moments when they learnt to ride their bikes by themselves, where you are running beside them holding their seat and let go and they ride off. It is a metaphor for life. One minute you are teaching them to stay balanced on the bike, soon they will be borrowing the car keys or heading overseas for a gap year!