I am a runner. I’ve been a runner since I can remember. I have memories of running with my dad when I was in first grade. Running is my home base. It’s where I go when everything else around me is falling apart. It’s my happy place; the place where I can be ME. 100% ME.
When my husband and I decided to start a family, I never imagined that the runner in me would suffer. People warned me…your life will never be the same. I figured, bring it on! That’s what having kids is all about. Right?
Enter our first child that wanted to be fed every hour or so….and how does one run on that schedule? Well, you don’t….or you learn to run REALLY fast.
I looked forward to my time outside of the house to remember who I was on the inside. I would try to plan it out with my husband so I could be somewhat guilt-free. But, no matter what I did or when I did it, I always came home to a crying baby and my husband standing at the door saying “he’s hungry!”
Not even 20 minutes. My goal was always 3-5 miles, but I was getting a very guilty 20 minutes if I was lucky.
Enter second child.
Another boy that needed a lot of attention due to reflux. Eating constantly, but always having to eat again after the reflux….aka losing his lunch. As much as I loved my boys, at times I felt trapped in my schedule. And my husband, as much as I love him, just didn’t get it.
I NEEDED to run to be ok. I needed to remember “me” as the runner. The woman who loved that feeling of leaving it all on the trail. That liberation and exhilaration that you experience on those days where you float above the ground because it just feels so good.
Enter third child….and then fourth. The funny thing is, the kids were more and more spaced apart. Hmmmm…..I think I learned my lesson having the first two close together.
Still, as our brood grows, I have learned the art of balance. What is that, you ask? Well, put it into the context of a mom. Balance to me means: planning the night before. But, having plan A, B, and C also helps.
It goes something like this: If I get to bed early, then I’m getting up and meeting the girls for a 5:00am group run. If plan A doesn’t work, we move on to plan B.
Plan B: sleep in an extra 30 minutes, get up and run in the dark before husband leaves for work (with this plan, I lose 1-2 miles right off the bat).
Plan C: if all else fails, run on the treadmill while the 3 year old plays. This plan is the most unreliable. Depending on her attention span and mood, I may get anywhere from 1 mile to 8 done. Bonus: if it’s summer, maybe we can get outside with the jogging stroller.
Bottom line: as a mom, I have to keep running as a priority. It has to be planned for ahead of time in my daily schedule. Without running, I lose a little piece of myself and my mood suffers. Some days, the run just doesn’t happen, and that’s ok. But, I will be sure to get it done the next day.
As the kids get older, the challenges continue to change and morph. I have to go with the flow. But, I always remember that running makes me a better mom. I think my kids know that, too.
Run Happy, Run Long.
Amy is an ultramarathoner and triathlete, a mother of four, an Exercise Physiologist and a Physical Therapist. She lives with her husband, Dan (also an ultramarathoner and triathlete), and kids in Lewis Center.