Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Runner's Guilt

My faithful (well-loved) running companions.

A friend recounted a conversation with her husband.  After she peppered him with her vast array of running knowledge—nutritional tips, fitness advice, training schedules, and race day strategies—her husband sighed.  He exclaimed (in jest), “You realize running is not your profession, right?”

No, my friend isn't a professional runner.  You won't see her face plastered on the cover of Runner’s World or featured in a special sports segment.  She is, in fact, a housewife, mother of young children.  But if asked her passion, without hesitation she’d state “runner.”

No question, she's a good runner.  She's the sort of runner that finishes high in her age division and often receives awards at local races, but not at the level of an Olympic contender.  We gravitated towards each other because of our shared passion for the sport and parallel desires to increase race times.

She taught me that to become a better runner one needs to make running a priority.  Workouts must be performed religiously and with maximum effort (no light jogs).  A running body is best fueled with the good stuff (no more Doritos!).  Mental stamina is a must (erase thoughts about carpools and homework!).

On her advice, I've gone about rewiring my running brain, incorporating many of these things.  As a result, my pace quickened, but what I've found along the way is that making running a priority means making choices.  I struggle with:

  • Do I run the long run on Saturday morning or host the Friday night slumber party?
  • Do I compete in the local race or attend my son's soccer game?
  • Do I buy the fancy new running outfit or spend the money on sneakers for the boys?
See what I mean?  

As I've made running a priority other things have be pushed off (or down) the list.  And with that, guilt has crept in quicker than a lap around the track.

I've become the master of justification.  

I can rationalize some of my running choices as being a "good role model" to my boys.  I'll also say, "Mommies can have hobbies too."  I think, "Being in shape means they have me around longer."

But often I just feel selfish, pure and simple.

Recently, I attended a birthday dinner.  The next morning I joined my running friend for a long run.  As we pounded the pavement, I recapped the night's events including the heavy entrees served and the late night return.  She listened and then said, "Did you worry about how all of that would impact your running today?"

"No," I replied.  "I was having too much fun!  I tried to remember that life doesn't revolve around running; running revolves around life."

I lied...just a bit.  That night, I did worry a tad about running.

Truthfully, I'm still working on the balance between life and running.  I imagine it will be a never-ending process. 

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