Last week, my friend Kelly, from “Redhead on the Run”, asked me to guest blog about running and our busy family. This is a different type of post than my usual, but I thought I’d let the friends of “Flourish” in on one of the challenges my husband and I are taking on this Fall. We’re running a marathon together in 49 days!! If you’ve read this blog for very long, you know that I really enjoy running and always have, but with a busy church and a growing family, some of my interests have gone by the wayside. I feel like I’m finally in a place to be able to pick up running more seriously now and the challenge has been so life-giving to me. It’s easy at this stage of life to steer away from doing hard things, but doing so has invigorated me and caused me to rely on the Lord for “new” kinds of strength.
As a little 8-year-old girl, I started running road races. My dad, who was in the Army and very skilled in running longer distances, says that I didn’t train like I should have, but could hold my own among the other girls. So, when I think of running, I have fond memories of listening to my dad’s footsteps along side mine as he sang Army cadences to keep me motivated and focused. It worked. I still sing those same songs today as I run!
(Gotta love those 80’s feathered bangs!!)
Now, I’m a mom of four little girls who are 3, 5, 7, and almost 9. I home school the first three and run tirelessly after the baby! Our house is busy at all times of the day except for sometime after 8:30 pm when they are tucked into their beds.
In between babies, which as you can tell wasn’t much time, I would try to get back into shape. I even ran through my pregnancies until my belly could no longer handle the jolting. But, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t breaking any PR’s nor were these quality workouts. Over the past 10 years or so, I have simply been a mom-one of my highest callings.
But, this past May, we took our two oldest girls to NYC to see the sights and enjoy an end of the school year field trip. During our visit, many pictures were taken. One of which, changed a lot for our family. My husband saw himself and decided that he needed to quickly lose weight and so he was going to run a marathon this year. My husband is one of those “all or none” kind of guys. There is no middle ground, so leaping from “I’m fat” to “I’m going to run a marathon” from a guy who only ran a couple of times a week, but was a sprinter in high school, was a true leap.
When he told me about the idea and invited me to join the “fun”, I immediately resisted. So many questions surfaced, like “How in the world would we have time for this? What about the time spent away from our girls?” And just, “why?!?”
I counted the cost ad nauseam and finally came to a point where I felt I could actually attempt such a goal as my first full marathon. In November, my husband and I intend to make this big dream a reality. But, I’m not going to lie. It’s been a real sacrifice and has taken a lot of planning. Here are a few things I would recommend when trying to juggle marriage, family, and racing:
- Develop a workable schedule. Seems simple enough, but with work schedules, early morning meetings, schooling children, and children’s sports, it’s no small feat to work around. My husband and I try to run opposite each other, whether that’s one of us running as the sun comes up and the other in the evening or on opposite days of each other when that is applicable.
- Run together whenever possible. This is extremely difficult for couples with young children, but it’s wonderful if your speed and effort match each other in any way. “What do you do with your children?” has been a common question from friends. Well, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be chanting, “It takes a village to run a marathon” by the time this is all over with! We have hired babysitters and asked family and friends to watch our girls so that we could run together. It has taken a lot of coordination and outside help, but it’s worth it! My husband and I have loved the times we’ve gotten to run together simply for the moral support and the joy of watching each other fiercely accomplish a goal. It has brought us together in a new way that after 14 years of marriage has been really fun to experience.
- Keep traditions a priority. If you have kids then you know that there are certain elements of family time that are just non-negotiable to them. Sitting down for meals together is so healthy and tucking them in for bed for a few minutes of valuable one-on-one time is necessary to their little hearts. Before attempting a marathon or some other intense training, I’d encourage you to talk it over with your kids and explain that Mom and Dad are working hard towards a goal and will have to miss a few things during this “season”.
- Celebrate the finish. Since the whole family has sacrificed, be sure that they also get to celebrate with you! There’s nothing quite like a child cheering you on and tucking the truth into their hearts that they too, can work hard and accomplish a goal. During our training, I’ve talked to my girls about my hard runs or how I persevered through the heat, so letting them celebrate the finish will be as satisfying for them as it is for me….well, almost!
I hope this encourages you to get out and run or exercise! Encourage healthy habits in your own family by setting the example yourself. Set a goal. Work hard. Finish!