Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Motherhood, guilt, and running

pendant here


I think I've mentioned it before, but I'm training for another marathon. Actually, training doesn't *officially* start until next week, but I have been building up my base mileage ever since the half-marathon I ran over Memorial Day weekend, and this week is the week that I run all of the runs that I will run the first week of training. I ran 141 miles in June (and 9 miles in July--all one day of it so far).

I've been running for 8 years this August--I started about six weeks postpartum with Juliet. I've run through three pregnancies (two of them all the way until delivery, one up until abdominal surgery at 24 weeks), five half-marathons, one marathon, and a handful of 12K/10K/5K races scattered in there. I've gone to physical therapy and learned how to roll my IT bands and what supplements I should take for plantar fasciitis. I can give myself an ice massage without screaming like a banshee. I figure I'm pretty used to this running thing.

But MAN, let me tell you, this current running plan is totally kicking my butt! I figured that I've run a marathon before, I can totally do this--and then I started posting regularly on an online running forum and asked for advice on how to get faster (my pipe dream is to qualify for Boston in the next five years), and then I did a ton of research on the plans that everyone recommended, and picked the one that I thought was the best fit, and so now instead of running nice little midweek runs of 4 or 5 miles, I'm suddenly knocking out 8 miles one day, 9 miles the next, and 12 a couple of days after that. In the FIRST WEEK.

IT IS SO HARD. But simultaneously awesome. Oh, what do you do today during naptime, kid? You took a nap? I ran 9 miles, and I ran them fast!

A lot of times I worry about the fact that literally all my free time is going to running right now (this doesn't count the 3 hours I read every night once the kids are asleep, because reading time is not the same as free time). No creative projects around the house, and I'm always feeling guilty about not being this exciting cruise director for the kids' summer like I have been in years past. (We usually go somewhere fun 3-4 times a week, but I am not doing all kinds of cool art projects or whatnot at home...we've only done a handful thus far.) Part of this is because my kids are getting older and want to do their own thing, but honestly, part of it is because I'm tired! Although when the kids were sick for a month straight, a lot of my fatigue was from being up most of the night with them and not just from running.

Anyway...so there is always a lot of guilt for me around taking so much time for something that is for myself, but man, I don't know what I would do without it right now--it's the only thing keeping me sane and able to handle life's stresses these days. I've gotten into the habit of getting up a couple of hours before anybody else on Saturday mornings and just running for a couple of hours, and then I can come back and do all the Saturday stuff after I've had some time to recoup my sense of self. Actually, I was telling Neil the other day how worried I am about making everyone's lives boring because I'm running so much, and he reassured me that running 12 miles, making it back in time for breakfast, and then spending 6 hours at a living history museum with the kids and then coming home, making dinner, and getting everyone in bed is not exactly wimping out on motherhood, so I do an awful lot of trusting him to tell me if it's too much.

Mostly I figure that as long as we hit the library every week, we get in a few playdates, and we go one or two interesting places I'm good for the week, and if I read stories to the kids every day, keep up on laundry, make sure everyone is practicing, and keep everyone fed we're good to go. It's good for them to spend hours building forts and playing Legos during naptime while I'm pounding out miles on the treadmill...right?

Oh the mother-guilt and second-guessing...it never ends. But I truly don't want to completely lose myself--I know there's a lot more I could be doing as a mother, but I don't think it would be healthy for me to give and give and give without keeping something that is just mine. And for me, right now, that's running a whole lotta miles every week. (And reading. Which is like taking vitamins.)

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