Mother (Runner)’s Day

My Mother’s Day gift to myself today was a 4-miler on my own. Running solo, which I used to do all the time, is a luxury now that my 16 month old is usually in tow. I thought I would zone out, get lost in my music or simply enjoy solitude. Instead I found myself philosophizing about running, about motherhood, about how deeply they are entwined.

Running is simultaneously selfish and selfless. We run for ourselves- for our physical, mental and emotional health. We run to burn off stress, to foster a sense of control when life feels out of it, to take time for self reflection, to get away, to recenter. 

But we also run so often for others in our lives: we run to be better mothers, partners, friends, sisters, daughters. We run to encourage others to run, or to find their own relief valves. We run and give those runs, symbolically, to people in our lives who are struggling, or to honor their memories. On Mother’s Day I did all of this, and I was so grateful to have this time, to have this ability. I thought with each footfall of my son, of my own mother who I lost 10 years ago to pancreatic cancer, to my friends who are mothers to be, or newly mothers, or have been for decades. 

And this made me think, big picture, how running and mothering are so much the same: both tests of endurance; both with their moments of absolute euphoria as well as those of difficulty; we undertook both because we are brave, because we can stand to get a little sweaty and dirty, let our muscles ache and tire for the sole reason that we love how full it all makes our hearts feel. It sometimes seems like the run will never end. Then we cross the finish line, or put the baby to bed, or send them off to college, and suddenly we wonder where the time went. No matter how difficult it feels amidst it, once it ends it feels like it just began. And we know we’re better people because of it.