Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Anyone who runs long distances and has a family life outside running, eventually encounters tension between the demands of the sport and the responsibility of being a full-time parent or partner. Let’s face it, distance running requires a certain amount of discipline and training which take up time that could be spent doing other things. With the paucity of free time most of us have to spare for anything other than work, conflicts on how to best utilize that time are bound to arise.

Some of us are lucky-I have access to a gym (with a shower) at work and I’m able to log 25 miles per week on the treadmill during my lunch hour-but not everyone has that luxury. I’m also fortunate to have a family that understands that running makes me a better person, and by extension, a better father and partner. I think that is the key. It is imperative for the runner to communicate to his or her family the depth of commitment to the running lifestyle in a way that makes sense to non-runners. This isn’t easy. Runners tend to be fiercely dedicated to the sport in a way that elliptical jockeys simply aren’t. Putting on a light coat and heading out to run in the driving rain or snow seems totally insane to most people, yet it makes perfect sense to me, as I’d imagine it does to most runners. Put simply, I have to get out there and put in the miles the same way I have to drink water or eat. Running keeps me fit, gives me the mental acuity to solve seemingly intractable problems, clears my head and improves my mood. It is meditation in motion, poetry in physical form.

Running is such a part of my identity that I can’t even imagine life without it. I would willingly get up at 4am, in the winter, to run in the dark, rather than push it aside in the name of time constraints. Of course, I love my family and would do anything for them. I’d give up running in a heartbeat for them if they asked-but because of how much it means to me, I know they never would.

I think I do a decent job balancing the demands of family life with running. It is easier for me because my family is incredibly supportive-they come to my races and cheer me on in all kids of nasty weather. Could I do better? I suppose one could always do better. I strive for balance. You'll have to ask them if I've managed to achieve it.


  1. It's easier when the kids get older. It's a tough issue though-I wanted to stay in town for a race last year when it was our anniversary weekend....the trick is to get your spouse into it as well, even for shorter distances, as many events have multiple distances to choose from.

  2. Erin runs occasionally, but it isn't really her thing. She's very into yoga and I support her doing it-would do it myself if I had more time. It would be great if she were interested, but I'm not going to push. You can't force someone to run, unless you're in the Army.