Saturday, December 7, 2013


Recently, an ultra-running friend of mine was disappointed to notice a number of negative comments on her personal social media about her increased training output. It seems that a few "do-gooders" felt it was their right to imply she was being a less than stellar mother because her focus seemed to be on her training rather than her children.

I’ve had the same reaction by people in my life who feel that I’m somehow spending too much time focusing on my own “hobby”.  Apparently, I’m being selfish and neglectful. Most of the time, I simply nod my head and mentally unroll my middle finger to them.

Yes, it is true that preparing for a race, whether it is a 10k or a 100M, does take time. And let’s face it when you are preparing for an ultra, the majority of us are training to finish, not even thinking about placing.  The fact is though that we don’t sacrifice time away from our families but actually carve out time for ourselves when others are probably say, sleeping or watching T.V.  This particular friend of mine gets up long before the sun rises to get her training done. That way, she can get a full day of work in, be there for her girls after school, and be the best Mom she can be. I have other ultra-friends who will run two or three times per day (to work, at lunch, back home) to get their training in.

But here’s the shtick.  We tell our kids constantly that when you set a goal, you need to have a plan, and you need to work hard through your plan to get to your goal.  But how many of us excel at being role models for that philosophy?  I hear many parents say to their kids, “Sure sweetie, of course you can be the next Christine Sinclair! You’re just as talented!” But how many kids really understand the level of commitment needed to get to that goal?

One of the reasons I started running races, and setting ultra goals for myself, was to show my kids that when you have a dream/goal they don’t just happen because you want them to.  You have to work at it. You have to train. And I believe my kids are getting that message.  They have become very vocal when I start to make excuses about not training. They are the ones who remind me that I need to head to the gym on the days I’d rather be curled up knitting. They are the ones who get my butt out the door for a run when I’d rather be lazy and have another coffee.  They are my biggest cheerleaders and love being at my races. And in turn they have begun to pursue their own interests with a commitment that comes from within and with very little pressure from me.

I’ve come to the realization that people who criticize tend to be unhappy about some part of their own lives. Perhaps the negative feedback we get as runners is because those who criticize wish they could figure out a way to carve out the time for themselves. Perhaps they wish they had the support of their loved ones to pursue their own goals. The one truth I have learned is that our children respect us more for the people we are rather than as an ideal that society thinks we should be.

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