Running: A Love Story

I started running eight months ago, not because I needed to lose weight or had gotten a diagnosis from the doctor, but because I turned 39 in February and was feeling a little lethargic. As a work-from-home mom of three teenagers, I spend a lot of time putting out fires while sitting at the computer or driving a kid to rehearsal. I knew I needed to do something to clear the cobwebs in my head and get my blood pumping, or I’d slip into middle age with declining energy and increasing girth. So when my sisters challenged me to train for a 10K this year, something I’d never considered before, I took them up on it. I ran my first race in April and I’m training for another one in the Fall. At this point, as far as running goes, I’m all in.

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But, as wonderful as running is (my sisters and I refer to it as “fun-pain”), it isn’t a panacea. In the last eight months, I’ve sustained personal loss and experienced struggles both in my job and in my parenting. Running, as great as it is, hasn’t solved my problems. But it’s helped me keep going.

When my beloved grandmother lost a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer this past Spring, I ran as tears slid underneath my sunglasses and dripped off my chin. I ran through anger and listlessness and fatigue. I ran like a bear was after me. I was surprised to find that, while I can’t outrun my sorrow, grieving while moving feels better to me than grieving standing still. I’ve discovered I like the wind to dry my tears.

fullsizeoutput_b47As well as being a homeschooling mom, I’m a writer whose current manuscript sits in a (seemingly endless) editing phase. I often fight frustration and, let’s be real, shall we? total despair as I try to coax what’s in my head to reappear on paper for the sixty-seventh time. Running does not give me “ideas” like it seems to for other writers. It does not untwist plot problems or unlock inspiration. On the other hand, the grit and consistency I’m developing in my runs seem to be helping me stay the course in my work, too. When I’m tempted to procrastinate, or to make excuses when I’m stuck in a literary quandary, I remember that I’ve learned to run when I feel like it—and when I don’t. This means I can work when I don’t feel like it, too. Feet on pavement, butt in chair. One kind of showing up helps the other.


fullsizeoutput_b4eHave I mentioned I’m a mom of three teenagers? Parenting is hard. Parenting wannabe adults is, arguably, hardest of all. I find myself short on patience and long on irritation, these days. Running does not produce in me a Zen-like serenity that remains unruffled in the face of my kids’ less adorable tendencies. It doesn’t offer ‘aha’ moments when I suddenly see where we all went wrong (see above). Then again, running gives me time to myself, to be quiet and breathe, to pound out adrenaline and fear, to pray. And it must be helping because, if we’ve all had a particularly trying day, or I get a certain look in my eye, my kids’ll say, “Hey, Mom. Maybe you should go for a run.”

And I do.

7 thoughts on “Running: A Love Story

  1. My kids say the same thing! In fact, everyone in our home knows the best thing for our family is that I run. Frequently.
    After my Dad died, running was the only form of exercise I could stomach, and it still helps me…somehow. The physical and mental (maybe even spiritual) benefits far outweigh the investment in time, shoes, and reflective tops. I can’t imagine how much MORE difficult my summer would have been without running!
    Then there’s the alone time–just me and my public radio news friends. (I know. Weird.)
    Maybe I should sign up for a 10k, too. Hmm…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura says:

    Yay running! And look at you! Ok, I’m over the top, especially for just having found you, but I can’t wait to read more. I’m a running-writing-homeschool-mom-of-a-teenager, too. In fact, I’m late for meeting friends in the dark for our early jaunt. On a serious note, so sorry about your grandma. Mine comes with me on every run and every time I make pie. So glad her spirit is with me. xo for now.~Laura


  3. Yes, yes, yes! Running is a balm, a familiar friend, a training ground for life. I followed you over from Jamie’s because your name looked familiar and realized our paths have crossed many times over the years. All the best to you.


    • Laura says:

      Oh wow, hello, Caroline (big fan here!). Just popping back on to let you know my 11YO daughter – whose name is May – and I are enjoying May B. right now! I will have to tell her that you are a runner, too. I love it when the Internet shrinks the world into a sweet, cozy room of friends. Thank you for your beautiful books. xo~Laura


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