Friday, October 10, 2014

When Running Can't Come First

Taking a snack break after an awesome solo run at a local park. Gotta get in these runs while the weather is still warm.

   When Mark and I tell people that we run races, the first question we always get is, "How do you have time for that?" And to us the answer is simple, we make time for it. We all only have 24 hours a day and with a child, a house, and Mark's over 40 hour a week job, it can be a lot to fit in. In order to run, we do sacrifice other things. For instance, this summer when we were marathon training, we basically sacrificed Saturday to running long runs and recovering. Mid week runs are up even more time. We missed out on a lot of the typical summer things we like to do like going to the drive-in movies, swimming at the local aquatic center, drives in the mountains, picnics, and even some travel. Sure, we tried to do those things here and there, but for the most part our summer was spent running for hours and then napping and being sore. But, for one summer, we were willing to make that trade. We needed one summer of missed week nights and Saturdays to forever say and know we were marathoners.
   We miss other things to be runners too. We can't just eat whatever we want. I mean, we could, but then we were suffer in our running. We sacrifice eating out for spending more to eat at home so we know we are eating well. We also spend more to get organic whenever possible. It is a sacrifice we are willing to make so that we know we are getting the best food we can get. We have to get sleep and usually a late night for us is staying all the way until 10 PM! We miss television events, Saturday morning sleep-ins, just sitting on the sofa binge watching Netflix, and other normal things people do. We purposely chose to sacrifice those things.
    And while running is free, the things we chose to need for our running isn't. Races, for example can cost anywhere from $10 for our No Snow 5K we run every January to our over $100 marathon. If we both run 5 races a year, that adds up. Our shoes are around $100 a pair and I am on my 3rd and 4th pair (I mix up what shoes I wear to lessen the risk of injury) this year (each pair is only good for around 350-400 miles for me). Then we have running clothes which we buy usually on clearance, but that still adds up. Then there are mid-run nutrition needs, electrolyte water so I am less prone to migraines, vitamins and supplements (can't live without fish oil and joint supplements), Powerade, water bottles we can carry while running, our jogging stroller and stuff to keep Addison happy while we log hours of running, GPS apps and running music, and the list never seems to end. We pass on doing other things like eating out often, shopping for "normal" stuff, going to the movies, and "living like a normal person" to run. We are often teased about claiming we are poor, but we budget our lives so we can run. And we do it happily.
   The whole goal of all of this for us is just to be healthy. For a long time in both our lives, we put our health last and paid the price by being overweight and pushing ourselves into lives of heart disease, high blood pressure, and who knows what else. One day we decided that wasn't going to be our fate if we had anything to do with it. So we started running. Our goals were little at first, then they grew and grew. We went from struggling to run a mile straight to running half marathons and eventually a full marathon.
   And while we were growing as runners, I was noticing that I wasn't gaining like a lot of people around me seems to be able to do. Sure, I was running the same training runs and races, but I was usually one of the last people. If you wanted to train with me, be prepared to run slow and walk sometimes. I am doing the best I could do, but I feel like I am not improving. What was I doing wrong? Is it because I am still fat for a runner? Is it because I am not training hard enough and pushing myself to death every run? Am I not running enough, period? Should I do more cross-training? Why am I still running 12:00 miles? Why was I second to last at my marathon? I am beating myself up over all of this.
   Then two things happened. I read an article about how much I really needed to be running in order to be in "good half shape" (30-40 miles a week. I currently only do about 20). And then, Joshua asked me to prioritize my life. I realized running came after my marriage, my kids, and was only part of my health plan, not the center. Sure, I could drop everything and run more and become more intense about running X miles a week with this workout on this day, blah blah blah. But, I don't want to do that. First of all, I will not and can not pawn off my responsibilities as a parent to do these things. It wasn't until Addison started school a couple of weeks ago that I wasn't with her 24/7. And I love that I am able to be with her. So many parents can't be home. But, that also meant that I had to work around her schedule and mood to workout and if we want to run, either my husband or I are pushing her in the stroller. Which is fine, but it is also something to plan around. With her going to school for a couple of hours a day a few days a week, I now can plan a run or a workout during that time. But, that isn't always the case. I look forward to the day Addison is old enough to watch herself, or better yet, can run with us once in a while. Then I can really focus on being the runner I really think I can be. But until then, I am not willing to sacrifice my time with my family too much to not be there.
   I am also kind of burned out from running. I did some amazing things this year. I set a new PR, breaking a 2:45 half marathon after chasing it for 2 years. I ran a marathon. But I am also tired. I didn't do as well as I would have hoped. I don't feel I improved enough this year. I feel the need to do more in my training then just running for distance sake. I have started doing several things in the weeks following my marathon. I started the BeFit in 90 Extreme challenge. I work out doing those videos 4 days a week. I am also doing more hill and tempo training. I hate difficult running because I have not done much to train for it. It has taken me 2 years and 7 months of training to realize that the difficult training runs is what will make me the stronger and faster runner I long to be. I am also focusing on the smaller races this winter. I would like to break the 30 minute 5K and the hour 10K. And while most people around me would tell me I need to do longer training runs, I am getting in what I can, even if it is only 3 miles a weekday run, 2-3 times a week, and 8-10 on the weekends. I may not be averaging the 30-40 I should be to be killing the half marathon distance, but I am doing what fits my current schedule. And at the end of the day, that is the best I can do.
   For me, with a small child and a husband and a house and other obligations, running can't come first. It may be years until I can devote myself to running to really get faster and stronger. But. for now, I do what I can and I know for me, it has to be enough. There is still plenty of time in my life to do those other things. Right now I hope to just be a good wife and mother. I hope to have a semi-decently clean home. I try to serve my family healthy food and promote a healthy lifestyle. I can't do everything. Maybe dreams of a 2 hour half or a 4 hour marathon are worth putting off as I build this foundation of a good life now.
My training partner. She can be a bit of a pace killer, but she is too cute to get mad at about it.

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