A couple of times each summer I get a brief taste of what life would be like without kids. In between soccer and basketball and outer space and music camps, they enjoy some time at one of the most popular camps ever: Camp Nana! I am lucky enough that my mother lives only 30 minutes away and can whisk the kids off to her house for swimming, library trips and movie nights while I continue on with my daily grind. But the grind is so different when the kids are not in the equation. I have time to do such ridiculous things as rest and relax, run errands by myself, and sleep in a bit. Pure insanity, right? (In between those shenanigans, I am messaging and missing them like mad, of course.)
I will be honest. I often lament how tricky it is to find time to run. I make it happen, but it is not always easy. I don’t always have a choice as to when I can go out for that run. It is not “when the mood strikes” or even when the weather is most cooperative. I simply have my windows of time and I have to grab them. With the kids away for the week, I had grand plans: “Oh! I will be able to run so much, every day, whenever I want — it will be an epic training week!”. And it could be.
But here’s the thing. When I get home from work, I am not rushing about unpacking lunch bags and trying to make a last-minute plan for dinner and wondering if my Garmin is charged because my run needs to start and finish within the hour so that I can get kids bathed and lunches packed again and lose my mind — and then find it — along the way. Instead, maybe I work a little later. Or maybe I stop off on the way home to run an errand that would be a hassle with kids in tow. And then, I make dinner. Adult food, just for me. Once I am on my butt, it becomes a little more difficult to get off my butt. My butt is perfectly happy on the couch, catching up on mindless TV (and enjoying the break from Disney Family – Hey, Jesse, you drive me nuts, girl!). Or sometimes my butt wants to retire to my bedroom early and read for a while. But what should my butt be doing? Busting itself out on a run.
When my schedule is wide open, I spend more time thinking about and procrastinating running than I actually do running. This is in stark contrast to my normal routine, where there is no time to question, no luxury of thinking “maybe later”, no option except to do it and get it done and move on. Running is my quiet time and I need it. At the moment, though, I am already getting my fix of quiet time at home. I don’t need the run to escape the chatter and chaos and to-do lists, because things are eerily quiet on the home front. No one is waiting on me to go out, no one is waiting for me to get back. No one is waiting for me to do the next thing on the list. (It’s a little disconcerting, actually!)
Case in point: Yesterday, I worked late. Then, I was hungry. Too hungry to run. After dinner, I was too full. Too full to run. Plus, it was still too hot. Too hot to run. And suddenly, oops it’s too dark. Too dark to run. (Emmy Award for best excuse-making goes to…). So after blowing off my run in favour of quality couch time, I got up at 5 AM this morning and went running. Yes, my butt would have preferred to sleep in or at least lounge in bed, knowing I have only myself to get ready. Easy peasy! No herding or chasing the little people. But there is no way my conscience could handle that. This is why my training never slips too far: my conscience is a bitch!
I have realized that the most successful training tool I have is, ironically, the busy schedule that often seems to be an obstacle. In fact, as it turns out, it is the great motivator. It helps me stay on track. It forces me to be consistent. It keeps me sane. Simply put, it leaves no margin for error. And, as an added bonus, running has morphed into a fun family activity. I love that my girls want to be like mommy and run, run, run.
So while I will enjoy my few days off from packing lunches and piles of laundry, I will be so happy to see my kids come home and to go right back into the frenzy of everyday life that we moms know so well. Not only do they keep me laughing and smiling, but they literally keep me on my toes — and on my game. Yes, there are compromises, but this quiet week has taught me that our system, in all its chaotic glory, really works. A body in motion stays in motion, as they say. And I can thank my kids for keeping this body in motion.
As I laced up this morning before the sun was awake, I was reminded that momentum is a beautiful thing. And a powerful tool. I often use it well. But, until the kids come home, I have scheduled my runs with a friend. You know, just in case.
Tell Us: What are your best tips for scheduling — and following through — on your runs?