Family · Outdoors · Running · Sports · Women

The Ladies Who Run

They’re always the first ones out in the mornings.  Sometimes alone, but more frequently in groups of two or three, and chatty as mockingbirds.

I call them the Ladies Who Run.  In my observations, they usually appear to range from their mid-thirties to mid-fifties. Judging from the snippets of conversation that I catch when I cross their path, most of them are mothers. And judging partly from those same snippets and partly from statistics, a fair number are single.

These women have vaulted to a new level of my respect.

I just finished a five-day stint of pet-sitting for five adorable critters – two dogs and three cats. They are very sweet and I would happily do it again, but they knew I was not their mom. They warmed up to me quickly enough, but: Whew!

Add to that the fact that it always takes me a little while to adjust to sleeping in a new place. Plus my commute was lengthened, so I got up earlier and got home later; and for the real kicker, this week at work has been a whirlwind of stressful, barely-controlled chaos. Toss a running habit into the mix and…

Holy crap.

Lots of women do that, by themselves, all. The. Time. Not just with pets, but with human children, too.

With no visible signs of psychosis!

Seriously, I have rarely felt so exhausted.  I will say this about having a plate that full:  you recognize priorities.  A couple evenings ago, the house had reached a quiet point, with everyone fed and the pets in full-tummy torpor. I think I was just kind of sitting there staring at some reality show, when my phone rang. It was my brother, and I practically cried out of sheer happiness to be talking to another human about non-work-related topics. Casual grown-up conversation and knowing you’re not alone in the world? A big deal, even to a pseudo-single-mom.

Another big deal?  Running. Of the four full days I spent at my friend’s house, I didn’t run on two of them. One was a planned day off, but the other, I’m a tiny bit ashamed to say…I just didn’t feel like it.

Normally I pride myself on differentiating between mental energy and physical energy – mentally, at the end of many a work day, I’m drained, but physically, after a mile or so, I find myself in the midst of a perfectly good run, and on course for maybe an okay day after all.

Not that day. I was tired and cranky, topped off by unusually heavy traffic on the homeward commute, so I threw in the towel for the day. Does playing fetch with a pair of energetic dogs count as cross-training?

I don’t presume to know anything about actual motherhood, but it really sunk in as to why most single runner-moms get their runs in before other people even think about stirring, and why a lot of them do it in pairs or groups.  They get a dose of casual grown-up conversation. They get energy and optimism for the day. They get the luxury of a more relaxed drive home and more time to spend with loved ones, whether two- or four-legged, whether helping with homework or playing a solid game of fetch.

Single moms, I don’t envy you.  But I am in complete, utter awe of you.


3 thoughts on “The Ladies Who Run

  1. As a parent I can atest to the wonder of a run. I shed stress, bring myself back to a neutral position. It makes me feel more balanced when attempting to navigate the world of my eight-year old. Now I am not a single parent, I am blessed with a terrific wife, who also appreciates the chance to get out with some friends and have grown up conversations about anything but work or children. Your post speaks to the very core of how we manage some of the challenges of being parents. Great writing!

  2. Being part of a ‘step’ family running helped me work through ‘issues’ that arose on a daily occurrence and was and is something I do for ME. 15 years ago I would have wondered why people ran, now I totally understand. Great blog.

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