Parents on the Run

This or That?

If you are a runner who frequents social media – and chances are high that you are – you’ve likely seen the “this or that” images to share your running preferences with your friends. The image contains two columns and you circle your choice on the image. Do you like to run solo or with a crew? In the morning or at night? Trail or road? These little quizzes can be a lot of fun; I love reading what my friends chose (and also confirming how well I know said friends)!

But what happens when you read the columns and your preferences don’t match up at all with your reality? Take this image for example (I thoroughly apologize as I don’t know who created it, but if anyone knows, hit me up and I’ll add a credit). While it says “ideal run” at the top, which I answered, it also hit me hard that I almost never run my ideal run:

My favourite type of run is this: early morning, technical trail, group of awesome friends, long-long-long run. However, as a parent of two young children, my ideals simply don’t fit in with my reality. Throw in the factors of where I live and what I do for work and I’m distanced even further from those preferences. We don’t live close to trails. Mornings are busy busy busy with babies who wake early and kindergarteners who put the ‘high’ in ‘maintenance’. My spouse is wildly supportive (and even the fact that there are two of us evokes such gratitude), but ultra trail training isn’t something that just takes two hours on a Saturday. So, for now, my actual run looks like this:

And the best piece of advice I give myself is to let whatever the run is, be the run it is. Sure, for me, 30km is a dream weekend run. But sometimes 10 (or 5 or 7.34) is good enough. The trails are gorgeous and groomed while St. Clair West can be smoky and smoggy. However, the city streets are often my best bet. Which is ok. In order to be the parent I need and want to be and maintain my runner identity, a lot has to be “ok”.

Everything is OK

Sometimes, I run with a belly full of dinner. I mark it down as good ultra training.

Sometimes, I have only 28 minutes to run. It’s an automatic speedwork.

Sometimes both kids take turns waking up throughout the night and my afternoon run is a slugfest.

Sometimes, I run with my kids in a running stroller and we stop a million times to see trains and trees and trucks. So I bring snacks and call the stops “aid stations”. 

It’s easy to get frustrated when training isn’t meeting goals, dreams, and, maybe most impactfully, how things have been in the past. A friend shared a great piece of advice recently: “Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t train like when you were single or childless. Some days you get that long run in, other days someone is sick and it doesn’t happen. Give yourself flexibility and grace.” Oh how I loved her mention of “grace”. Yes. Yes.

Life changes. And so will running.

My current favourite quote is this:

Tips from Parents

In the spirit of more sharing, I posted a request for parents who are runners (also known as runners who also parent) to share advice and hot tips. Here are some awesome responses. Enjoy!

“Any run is a good run!”

“Involve your kids early – they can ride while you run!”

“Enjoy your “you” time!”

“I take my kids who want to run around the block at the beginning/end so they feel included.”

“Disconnect during your run. It’s your time to be on a run and don’t feel guilty about that.”

“Don’t let the guilt creep in. You deserve the time to do this for yourself.”

“It’s sometimes hard to schedule, but always worth it.”

“Run before the crack of dawn before you wake up the family.”

“Kids snacks are some of the greatest fuels!”

“Try stroller running with your younger kids (at least 6 months of age)!”

Parents out there: what are your favourite strategies for making parenting and running work in your life?