Thursday, January 26, 2017

Why I Run

Life can be stupid hard sometimes. I often wonder if my parents felt the stress that today's parents feel. Is it tougher to raise kids in the era of electronics and social media, where distractions and bullying have taken on a whole new meaning? Where it's so much easier to compare your parenting and your children's success (and failure) to others?

I've been struggling with this part of parenting this week. My kids are going through a rough patch, one that I know we can get through, but it's a rough one regardless. All the while seeing other parents post all their kids' victories (which is completely awesome for them, don't get me wrong). When you don't have a lot of positives to post, it can be lonely and frustrating, and it makes you question your ability to be a good parent. Shouldn't my kids be happier and more successful if I was actually doing a good job at being their mom? Sounds ridiculous as I type, but the feelings are pretty valid.

It's also got me thinking about my sometimes-crazy hobby....endurance running and triathlons (I say triathlons loosely since I haven't even done one in 16 months). Why am I really spending all this time and energy on this sport?

I am a stay-at-home mother who quit her short-lived second career 30 months ago in light of some pretty serious child issues. I don't regret stepping away from it, even if it kind of blindsided me. But it also set me up to once again "just" be a mom as my adult role. I know, I know....don't say it's "just a mom" because that in itself is a very difficult job. However, my brain doesn't sit still very easily, and while I enjoy the freedom of time that I get most days, my brain needs stimulation. I was one of the smart kids growing up and I'm a critical thinker. Never in my life did I think I wouldn't be putting that mind to use in a career. Kind of crazy how things turn out nothing like what we had imagined (not such a bad thing).

So I need a focus. I need something to be laid out for me week after week that I follow, analyze, tweak, and about which I feel accomplished.

Enter marathons. 

You just can't fake a marathon. It takes discipline and commitment, and forcing myself to do the training week after week, month after month, gives me an outlet for my energy and an unconventional way. It gives me time away from the daily struggles of parenthood and time with other like-minded people.

Many people think it's just a way for a mom to run away from her problems.

To those I say ZIP IT.

Don't knock it before you try it. 

But WHY MARATHONS??? Couldn't half marathons be good enough? Why put your body through torture?

Oh, some runs, some weeks, some training blocks are freaking torture, I won't lie. I get tired and irritable and whiny. But on the same token, I absolutely love it. It's a way to hone my discipline, it's a reason to get up everyday, it forces me to make mindful choices every time I open that refrigerator because you can't train on crap fuel. All those things are GREAT THINGS. The marathon is a big enough goal that you can't allow yourself to slide. You HAVE TO put in the work.

Besides, at 43 years old, this makes me feel really good about myself. I'm proud that I can do this in middle age, and sometimes I do it well.

I fear that if I didn't have this, I would sit around all day letting my depression and anxiety completely take over my mind. The thought of that scares the crap out of me.

I had a brief thought to run another marathon in a few weeks, but I decided not to. I have a 200 mile team relay coming up in two months and then I'll put a few sprint triathlons on my calendar. My next marathon will be in the fall or winter and I'll tackle that beast the same way I did this past year and it will be fantastic.

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