I started calling myself a runner 16 years ago and it didn’t take me long to realize I had found a soul mate in the sport. Running helps me make sense of my world and guides me through both the ordinary and spectacular crazies of life.
Running quickly became my number one elixir and my every metaphor. I found confidence, friendship, power and patience. I ran to empty my mind of the spinning thoughts. I ran for laughter and conversation and sometimes to be “alone together.” On darker days, the mileage helped me shed anger, sadness, weariness or disappointment. That fact that running was cleansing may be cliché, but it was fitting nonetheless.
I still gain all this from running, but these days the sport no longer consumes so many of my hours or thoughts. Like many women before me, motherhood abruptly and decidedly hijacked more than half my life, leaving little room for intense pastimes.
This fact has worried me. I’m proud to be a hands-on mom, but giving up everything for my offspring was never part of my plan. And because running was such a big piece of my life, even cutting back a little felt like losing something. For years this loss has been a small, but nagging source of sadness and guilt.
What I’m finally understanding (seven years after I became a mother–sheesh) is that my running life is actually mirroring the rest of my life, just like it did a decade ago when I was young and unencumbered. Today I am paring things down. I am doing fewer things, but they are more focused. I am socializing less, but with more quality time. I am running consistently, if not quickly. I run when I can and run hard when I feel like it. If I race, I race—but I don’t lose any sleep about pace.
I am cutting myself slack and making peace with the undeniable fact that I cannot do everything I want to do with my life, all at the same time.
If balance is my goal, I must remember that balance doesn’t always mean equal. I think this has even been covered on Sesame Street…three apples might weigh the same as only one cantaloupe. Perhaps not equal, but somehow even.
So right now I’m focusing on three little people. Soon I will add more of my career back into the mix. Eventually I will pursue my long list of interests. Maybe I will bump up my mileage, or maybe I will keep running a relaxed pre-dawn loop around the trail.
For now I’m content. My personal scale holds a mish-mash of passions, responsibilities and dreams, but somehow it’s steady and balanced.