One statement I’ve heard a lot about running:
“It’s the easiest sport ever! You just put on some running shoes and go outside!”
Totally correct! Except when it’s not. I think it’s a gross over-simplification that breaks down pretty quickly for many people. For me, that could have been correct when I was under 30, single, or newly married.
These days – with three children (toddler up to now first-grader), an awesome husband, and a full-time job away from home – it’s more like this:
Is it worth it? Absolutely. Is it easy? No way, and I’m not even talking about the running part of running.
I love reading running blogs, but need to go beyond my usual reads. They’re great women, but they’re mostly child-free and younger than me. I am serious when I say that I love reading their posts and have learned a lot from them. I need to find some peers to round out my reading, you know? I start putting unrealistic expectations on myself otherwise.
I had a conversation online with some other mom friends who are working fitness into their lives in various ways. It is HARD. It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom who stays and works at home or if you’re a mom who’s working outside the home. Filling at least three roles (individual, partner, and mother) takes a lot of time and energy. Adding a fourth role – RUNNER – brings in a whole new dimension of strategy.
I run in the early morning or in a gym at the end of the work day. For the early morning, I run outside in our neighborhood. I have had to think through the things that would make me feel safer … reflective gear, light-colored clothing, lower music volume, CONSTANT VIGILANCE (thank you, Professor Moody), sticking to well-lit sidewalks, and timing my run so that I’m running more toward sunrise than not. I totally bailed on running when DST started because it was just too dark. Also never pictured in my post-run photos: the pepper spray I try to remember to carry every time. Not just for humans, but for any dogs whose owners aren’t being smart about them. I’m also thinking about buying a reflective vest type thing to wear when I run early morning. Early mornings work for me because kids are asleep, my husband can shower and start to get ready, and it’s the coolest part of the day here. I hate getting up, but that’s the trade-off I have to make.
I think that’s the big conversation you have to have with your partner and yourself: trade-offs. If we both agree this is something important to do for my mental and physical health, we both have to agree to make space for it somehow and address associated concerns. If the concern is being left alone at a certain time with the kids, what are the alternative plans that don’t result in that and what steps do we take to mitigate additional concerns? If the concern is safety of running location or time, what are the adjustments to be made to meet those concerns? Which primary concern “wins” for both of you so that you agree to make the adjustments for the secondary concern?
Adding in the Runner role requires change. It is NOT the easiest sport ever for me. It requires flexibility from everyone. There is no absolutely perfect solution that requires no change, because no change keeps you in the situation you’re already in. Something always has to give – time, routine, or money for a gym with childcare so mommy can exercise and not lose her head.
The pay-off has been totally worth it. My daughter plays “runner” now, in the middle of being a princess-astronaut-doctor-mom. She went to go have her run “in space” after putting her babies in bed. My oldest son wants to start running with me every week. My toddler already loves the jogging stroller. I don’t want to smack strangers as often as I used to. It’s awesome … it’s just not easy.