Early morning runs are my normal routine. Watching the sunrise as I lace up my shoes. Trying to make as little noise as possible as I make a quick cup of coffee. Making my way out the door, turning the key in the lock—I cross my fingers that they’re still asleep. Whether you’re running, walking, cycling, or practicing yoga, if you’re also a parent you’ve got a similarly synchronized routine that gets you out the door, with about an hour to yourself, before you have to get back to it all.
At one point, I was running for them. Thinking I was modelling healthy habits, an active lifestyle and a healthy example of how we can all do what we love without compromising our commitments in other areas of our life. All it takes to make it happen is planning, time management, and self-motivation.
All of this is true, but things have changed. Now that my girls are both a little older, my early-morning running is reflected to me through their own healthy habits. Probably one of the most important lessons I’ve learned, in running and in life, is that taking time and care for myself is the key to perseverance. On different occasions, they’ve both expressed a desire for me to treat myself. It makes me stop, and while they know running is for me, they’re quick to remind me there’s much so much more. Running is for me. But, if it makes me my best me, it’s also for everyone else in life.
Through running I’ve built a healthy foundation, one that allows me the freedom to take part in other sports alongside my daughters. Hitting the start line makes me willing to physically challenge myself in other sports, and other endeavours, both personal and professional. Running gives me confidence. Gives me joy. Last winter, alongside my girls, running gave me the confidence needed to help my youngest navigate down a particularly challenging run down the ski hill. Over the past few summers, running has also made me willing to get back to golf. While my daughters took their lessons, I’d practice my swing—a humbling experience requiring a beginner’s mindset and approach.
Running inspires me. So does my girls. I’m inspired to do more simply by watching them grow, without fear. Ready to accept whatever stands before them. Like that best version of me.
I’ve often heard parents around me lamenting they wish they had the energy I did. When I explain that running, walking, and generally moving your body—even for a short period of time—is the secret to feeling more energetic, I see the skepticism in their expressions. It’s hard to tell someone who’s never tried. But studies have shown that even a brisk 15-minute jog or walk in your neighbourhood can have a positive impact on your overall health—especially your mental health. Reflecting on these conversations highlights the fact that just about everyone can set a healthy example for our kids. Note to self: You don’t have to be training for a marathon, you can do you, and still have a positive impact.
Time away from running isn’t a loss. That statement can sometimes be hard on a busy runner, a busy mom. However, not unlike a vacation, taking a break can give everyday runners like me some significant gains. Pause. Rest. Regroup. Refocus.
Right now I’m hoping to pick up my pace again—maybe even qualify for Boston. I’ve been saying this for years, but there’s something about hearing your kids give you advice that just hits differently. As a runner, I believe I’ve got more to give and in taking their sage word to heart, it’s clear as a parent, there’s much more to learn. As much as this sport has strengthened me mentally and physically, as I’m sure I’ll continue to be reminded, it continues teaching me about being a parent and being a mom. Strength and patience are essential. So is joy. So is love.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms who are runners. May we all find the strength to carry forward beyond the next finish line.