This weekend, I will run 13.1 miles. On January 29th, I will run 26.2 miles. This is what I do. I have a baby, sit around for a bit loving on and taking care of my baby, and then I decide I need a break. I run. Without the goal of a race, I would never make the time for myself and always opt to do that extra load of laundry, make a bed, clean, etc. But when a race in the distance, I know I had better make running a priority if I am going to meet my goal. So I run.
Running used to be a burden, something to endure for the sake of my health or the number on the scale. I thought running 3 miles without stopping was an accomplishment and running 5 miles was out of the question. But after training for my first marathon, I came to really enjoy the meditative state I get into while alone on the road. I went on to run a second marathon after the birth of my son in 2009 and am excited to run another in January in honor of my newest baby girl.
My addiction to running started soon after the birth of my first daughter. Her colic and my isolation on a military base in south Texas were taking their toll. With the recommendation of a close friend, I read the book The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer and decided to give training a shot. Running seemed like a great way to get some me time and lose some of my baby weight. I had no idea what an impact it would have on my life.
First of all, running is the best kind of therapy. I have time to work through things that are bothering me, or let troubling ideas swim in and out of my mind until I can find a way to absorb or dismiss them. It gets all of the right juices flowing, and forces me to get away from my sweetest little bundles of joy long enough to remember who I am.
Running is also the closest I come to real prayer. With small children, I rarely find time in synagogue to connect with God or ponder my deepest questions. In my training, I have learned to focus my attention inward, getting lost in my own thoughts and forgetting about the miles below my feet. On the road, there is no threat of interruption.
Finally, marathon training, and specifically the book The Non Runner’s Marathon Trainer, has taught me life lessons that have made me a happier and healthier person. One of these is the “it doesn’t matter” technique, used to get past mental obstacles. You simply add to the phrase “but it doesn’t matter” to the end of a complaint or obstacle you see in your way. For instance: I don’t have a sweater and it is freezing out here…but it doesn’t matter. My running buddy isn’t here to motivate me…but it doesn’t matter. This technique worked great on the morning of my second marathon, after my 9-month-old son kept me up all night. I ran 26.2 miles on 2 hours of sleep because “it doesn’t matter.”
With a new baby in the house, there is a danger of getting lost in the duties of being a mom. I truly love taking care of my husband and our three beautiful children, but I have to make time for myself. Time to run, time to think, and time to rejuvenate my soul.