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. 

 

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Where I’m Going: The Next Marathon, Amidst Mommyhood

I ran my first marathon in Disney World in 2011. Almost two years later to the day I had a son and became a mom. He is dozing in a bouncer next to me as I write, my two month old   life changer– and it is for him, and myself, that I am ready to reclaim my running life to take on another marathon.

From an outsider’s perspective, I wonder if it will seem counter-intuitive that I am running a marathon for my son. I wonder if someone will question the amount of time I will seemingly be “taking away” from him in order to train, wondering how in the end that is good for him. And this misconception, I believe, is the trap many women– especially moms– fall into. We spend so much time taking care of everyone else, putting other’s needs in front of our own, that we let our own needs go by the wayside. I personally ascribe to the “airplane rule” of parenting: you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others in putting on theirs– as counterintuitive as that may seem. For me, in my life, that oxygen mask is actually a pair of running sneakers. Running makes me calmer, makes me feel more in control; running gives me an outlet for stress, a reason to be healthier all around. Running is a defining aspect of who I am- one of the ways I see my life reflected back at me, without which I would feel lost. These are all reasons I truly believe running will ultimately make me a better mom– and in training for my next marathon, I expect to accept that as the next great truth of my life. I’ll be posting on this blog about the reclamation of my running life– writing about running, rearing a child, and likely some randomness (as you can see, you can expect some alliteration!)

I launch this blog for a few reasons:

  • Writing is a form of accountability: I don’t expect marathon training amidst motherhood to be easy- but publicizing my efforts should reinforce my commitment.
  • Moments can be captured: moments of an aspiring marathoner and new mom, so that I can always look back on ordinary days that might otherwise be forgotten.
  • A blog offers community: I hope to reach other runners- moms or not- and use this as a platform for a dialogue amongst us.

And so it begins…the road (back) to 26.2!