Shifted Perspective on Athletic Goals

I mentioned earlier this winter that I began training for a half marathon along with another mama friend. I had a plan, all the best intentions, and a support network in place to help me achieve this goal. But then…I fell off the training wagon. Hard.

I could list all sorts of reasons I didn’t go outside to run when I was supposed to (accumulation of ice on the sidewalks, fewer than 5–interrupted–hours of sleep each night, long hours of solo-parenting with no access to a double-jogging stroller…). I could list all sorts of reasons why I still sometimes don’t get out there to do it, but the point is I only trained, on average, twice a week for this athletic event that’s coming up in three weeks.

Long ago, I let go of my goal to run the entire distance. What I’m working toward now is completing the half marathon with a combination of run/walking. I have also let go of feeling disappointed by this reality.

When I spoke with Jen Ellefson (my inspiration to start this endeavor) all those months ago, I asked her to tell me her greatest athletic achievements. I expected her to list out specific things she did, like compete for the United States of America in a rugby match against England or run a 10K at altitude. She surprised me by not listing a single specific feat, but instead cataloguing the ways she has remained a healthy adult, the ways she is setting a good example for her children, and the ways she is raising her own kids to be active alongside her and her husband.

So, instead of going running many of the days I was supposed to, I either took care of myself by napping or else did some other sort of exercise in my basement while my children napped (or cried at my feet). And that is ok, because my ultimate goal is not actually to complete a half marathon. I don’t even like to run! My goal is to return to some sort of state of health.

The race will take place on May 5. One year prior to that date, I was in the emergency room with post-surgical complications from my cesarean. If I am ambulating 13.1 miles on the anniversary of that horrible physical experience, I think that’s pretty awesome.

When I do make it out for a run/walk, I love coming home to find my sons on the porch clapping and waving at me. On weekends when I try to do a long run/walk, I love when my husband takes the boys out in the bike trailer and we cross paths several times, all of us exercising together and enjoying moving our bodies.

I also know that by next year, my baby will be old enough to be alone with his daddy for longer stretches of time and I won’t have to time training runs around nursing sessions. I’m hopeful the night wakings will diminish, too. He’s only a baby for one small year…I have many more years to go out for long runs.

In the end, who really cares if I ran the entire Pittsburgh Half Marathon? I hope my children can see instead that I set that as an intention and worked toward that, finding what time I could to push my body and concentrate on my cardiovascular health. I also hope that after the race, we’re all continuing to go out there and move.

Did you shift your athletic goals once you had children? Leave a comment to share how your fitness changed once you had a nursling!

1 comment to Shifted Perspective on Athletic Goals

  • LOVED reading this! I sometimes get discouraged because I plan on running so many times/week and JUST end up walking instead. What’s important is I’m trying to live a healthy, active lifestyle and my daughter sees this.

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