When I meet someone for the first time, they quickly learn two things about me. One, I’m a busy mom of four boys and two, I am a runner. So often I meet surprise as there is a belief that one cannot possibly go with the other. I do not claim to do both well all of the time (running and motherhood), but I have found that they complement each other quite well.
I am a better mother because I run
I have found that I have more patience, more stamina and more energy because I run. If I have a chance to get a run or other form of exercise in before my kiddos are awake, we are all in a much better state. As anyone who has experienced that runners high can tell you, one can deal with life much better when they have had a chance to sweat it out. And as the saying goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
My boys are in a variety of athletics (depending on the season). From swimming, to basketball, to track and soccer; their sports require discipline, practice and hard work. Imagine being a teenager. Try telling your mom that practice was “hard.” Now try telling her that after she’s just come home from a twenty mile training run. We keep it real at our house, so there is no whining or complaining allowed. However, they know when they come home from a tough practice, game or meet that I “get it.” I have been frustrated, have had my butt kicked by a tough workout, and have been injured. I have also experienced the absolute joy and friendship that comes from being an athlete. I have set goals for myself and reached them with them as witnesses. Because they know “I get it,” our relationship is one of mutual respect and maybe a little bit of admiration. Not only do they have a sense of what I’ve been up to, but when I am having a tough workout, I can think about how hard my swimmer had to work for his latest goal as well.
How do I fit it in?
I wasn’t always a runner. I was the girl in high school who didn’t want to sweat, didn’t want to mess up her hair and certainly did not like that nauseous feeling that came with running the mile. But after my second child was born, I was looking for a new challenge (and a way to talk to other adults). I found that by joining a group of women who ran together at 5:45 in the morning. Early? Yes. But worth getting up? Absolutely. Once I could get myself out of bed, I was rewarded with friendship, adult interaction and a vast sense of well-being before I headed back home to start my day with my kids. It wasn’t always easy, but I have found over the years that it is now part of who I am.
My kids come first. I do not sign up for every event that interests me; I balance my training runs with their soccer games and piano recitals. I am creative in how I can least disrupt my kids’ lives in order to get my stuff in. I don’t think any of them noticed how badly I smelled at a few swim meets last summer because I put in a long run and then ran there. I am sure some of the parents did.
Mostly I want my children to know that I’m there for them but that it is important to have your own goals, your own self and your own life. Setting priorities that include healthy meals and enough sleep and exercise is important to model for our kids. As we runners know, the things we learn out on the road translate into so many other aspects of our lives. It is my main goal in life to be sure to pass along those lessons to my kids. I cannot allow myself to slack off or compromise my values. I have four pairs of eyes that are always watching and learning from my example.