So this Sunday is Mother’s Day. If you haven’t bought or created your mom a gift, you should do that now and I hope you have two day shipping on Amazon.
Being a mom is hard. I’ve always thought that birthdays should really be a celebration of not just the child but the mother who fought to bring their screaming naked ass into the world.
Mom’s who are also runners are amazing women. Juggling the responsibilities of being a mom and finding time to run is hard. It takes sacrifice, determination, and creativity. I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade over the last few years.
Include your kids in your running. Strollers, bikes, scooters, the younger you can start including them the easier it will be for you in the future to continue to include them. Make it something you do together. They don’t need to go all the time, because mom needs time for herself too. It’s important for them to know you are taking care of yourself so you can be there for them. We put our children before ourselves all the time, but as our kids get older they need to learn that mom has needs just like they do. Taking time, even if it’s only thirty minutes a few times a week, for yourself will make you a better mom.
Run early or late. When my kids were younger, they are teens now, I would run early enough that I would be home to make breakfast when they got up. Sometimes this meant that I got up at 3 am, but being there for breakfast was important to me. You can also run after they go to bed or at lunch if you are also a working mom.
Because I am also a single mom, my kids have always known the route I was running and what time I would be back. They had a phone to call me if they woke up before I returned. I always stayed close enough to the house that I could get back within ten to fifteen minutes. They knew which neighbors they could go to in case of an emergency. They knew when to call for emergency services. If you have children too young to be left alone, find another mom who is willing to trade running days and child care days.
You’re running is important not just for you, but for your kids. You are modeling healthy habits. Too many children, especially in the United States, haven’t grown up being active. It makes me sad when I walk my dogs each evening and see very few children in the streets playing. They are not even out in their yards. When I was a child, we were always running around outside:exploring our neighborhoods and creating adventures.
The hardest decision comes when you have a conflict in schedule with your child’s such as when there is a race you really want to do, but your child also has an event that day and time. This may be an easy decision for some, but for others, me included, it’s hard. I typically went with being there for my kids. The race will be there when they are older. They will never participate in the event in the same way.
Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Running.
Not all runners have a wonderful support system who understands when they take off for hours at a time to get long runs in on the weekends or spend hundreds of dollars on one race. Those of us who do, count our lucky stars.
Having supportive friends and or family is important. Why? Because running can be hard. There will be times when you lose your motivation. There will be times when you want to celebrate and you should be celebrating.
Supportive family and friends offer you the chance to improve even when they don’t really know anything about running because they give you a sounding board. They may be able to give you new ideas because they see it from outside the running box. If they do know about running or are runners themselves, they probably like to talk about running stuff: new gear, new shoes, upcoming races, training strategies and so on.
You can build and adjust what you are doing based on their experiences about training, particular/similar races, injuries, fueling, and preparing (other than running) for a race.
How do you handle the lack of support? If you’re support system is just indifferent to you, it’s much easier than if they actively oppose your running hobby.
If they’re indifferent and don’t show up to your races, don’t take any interest in your accomplishments, or just project an attitude of we don’t care, find people who do care and who are supportive. Get involved with the running community more. You don’t have to abandon your family or friends who just don’t get it, but you do need to find a support system that does for all the reasons stated above.
If they actively oppose you, seek understanding first. Friends are unlikely to actively oppose your running. They may give you a hard time about it once in a while. Active opposition comes from family and significant others.
Find out what it is about your running that they don’t like: the time commitment, concerns for your health, the cost, or feeling like an outsider.
Provide information to address their concerns.
I can’t count how many times people have told me running as much as I do is not healthy. I send them the research that says it is and I explain what it does for me personally regarding physical and mental health.
Running can be expensive, especially, if you are running multiple 100 mile races at about $300 a pop just for registration. Then there is gear, food, travel costs, and shoes, just to name a few things. This one is obviously going to be a potential issue with significant others who share financial resources. You’re going to have to compromise and explain why running is so important to you. Encourage your other half to engage in a hobby. Make sure you are not using all the extra spending money for your running. Help them feel like they are a part of your running experience and team.
If they are “jealous” because they feel like an outsider around your running friends or when you talk about running (because you do and you use running metaphors to teach life lessons), get them involved. Include them with planning races and choosing races. Pick places they want to see. Try not to use inside jokes around them, unless you’re ready to explain. Help them learn the terminology.
The big one is the time commitment. This one can become a sore spot for the runner too when they have conflicting desires. It’s always a balance. Try to choose times when your family is engaged in another activity where you can’t really be such as working, school, or asleep. This works well when you have young children. Help the other person understand the benefit running has on you and how that impacts your relationships. Everyone needs time for themselves to recharge and breathe. If you don’t take care of your own needs, then you cannot be fully present for others. Be willing to adjust things for important events the other person has. Get them involved with your running. They could meet you along your run for refueling or lunch. They could run a portion of the route with you. Both of these work even on training runs. Make sure you are contributing to family chores and other “unpleasant but necessary” activities as much as the others. Try scheduling a down season and commit to spending more time with the family. Make sure you are taking your rest week every fourth week and make an effort to spend quality time with those you love.
Is there a minimum age limit for running marathons? Many races require runners to be eighteen years or older. If they don’t, they require their parents to sign a liability waiver. I have to admit, I’ve had some reservations about having kids out on the course for that distance because their bones are still growing.
There is a bit of a debate about this issue. In 2001, the International Marathon Medical Directors Association said, “It is in the overall best interests of children to make participation in a full marathon an adult activity, reserved only for those 18 years old and older.”
Their position is based on concerns for overuse injuries, psychological burn out, increased eating disorders in young athletes, and their lower tolerance for heat stress. Here is the thing with that endurance running, like what you find in a marathon, is no more damaging to a child than the intense training adolescent athletes go through for basketball, baseball, American football, football (aka Soccer), and every other high school sport.
Some things to keep in mind when deciding if you child should run a marathon or even participate in intense athletics at a young age:
- Kid’s bodies don’t do as well in hot or cold weather as adults do. They also don’t notice when they are not doing so great because of the temperature.
- Their bones are growing faster than their muscles and tendons, which means they can get soft tissue injuries easier than an adult.
- Due to their shorter stride, kids hit the ground more often when they run, which can increase the risk of stress fractures.
You don’t want them to get injured when they are young and have that injury follow them through the rest of their lives. This happens with many people who played competitive sports in high school and even in college.
Don’t get me wrong, I think sports programs are wonderful for children, adolescents and young adults. There are so many benefits to the child such as social skills, healthy life style, following rules, being a leader, adapting to a changing environment, quickly assessing situations, and here is the big one working hard for what you want.
For children and young adults it’s very important to make sure you and their coaches follow the golden rules of run training: first, never increase miles by more than 10% a week; and second, every fourth week decrease miles by 20% to allow time to rebuild. It’s critical that they learn to listen to their own body and rest it when it needs rest. If they learn this skill early in their running or sports, it will benefit them throughout their active lives.
If you are going to allow your child to participate in marathons make sure it is their choice and that they can stop when they are no longer interested in running that distance. This one is always a balance because you don’t want them to walk away from a commitment just because it’s not fun anymore. Make sure they have all the information and know what training will look like and what the race will look like.
It occurred to me today while I was running that I’m selling out on the HURT 100 finish. What! Yeah, I know, right? But here’s what I’ve been thinking this whole time.
HURT is really hard, it’s the most difficult race I’ve ever run and it’s hard for really great amazing runners who are genetically blessed. Plus there are two significant things working against me: first, the total climate change, and second my inability to shape my training to match the environment I’ll be running in.
Because of this line of thought, my goal has been to just finish the HURT. Just cross that finish line in one piece before the 36 hour cut off. My goal was to finish under 36 hours…finish at 36 hours…squeak across the finish line minutes before 36 hours.
And that’s when it hit me. I said goodbye to just squeaking across the finish line a year and a half ago when I finished Bryce Canyon 100 eight minutes before the cut off. From that day forward I set out to become faster and stronger. Every work out and run I’ve done since then has been with the intention of becoming faster and stronger. The only “goal” I’ve had has been to become better than I was the day before.
That got me thinking about the difference between goals and intentions. A goal is something out in the future. It’s an object or place we want to reach and sure goals are great, but they are a moment in time. I think this is the underlying problem in lack of motivation. We get board of achieving particular goals. We get bored checking the boxes.
Intentions are unstoppable.
Goals are future oriented. They are a single moment in time—setup, achieved and passed on by. Intentions are right now, they are in the moment. Intentions are guided by your values and beliefs about yourself— who you are and want to become. They are continuance and evolving.
Sometimes with goals we don’t really care how we get there, so long as we get there. Sometimes we take short cuts or cheat a little (only a little). You can’t do that with intentions. You’re either in line with them or you’re not. Every day is not going to be easy and there are days that are going to be downright hard without much movement toward the GOAL, but if you’re true to your intention you’re always making progress.
So from now until HURT I’ll be getting stronger and faster, I will do my best in Hawaii, and my best will be better than what I’ve done in the past.
It is easy to think of things that are not going right in our lives. It’s easy to lash out when we feel like we don’t get what we deserve. It’s easy to be angry and hurtful when we feel unheard. It’s during these times, when we have to remember all the simple good things in our lives, because so many people don’t have these things.
I’m thankful my body is strong enough for me to push my limits of endurance and strength.
I’m thankful for the ultrarunning community, who shares their experiences and lessons with one another.
I’m thankful for my friends who stand out in the wind and rain waiting for me to come into aid stations.
I’m thankful for my family who is supportive of all the goals I set.
I’m thankful for all my readers and supporters in the community.
I’m thankful for my education, which has given me a chance to give back to the vulnerable.
I’m thankful for healthy strong children.
I’m thankful I have a job that provides enough for my family to have their basic needs of food and shelter met.
I’m thankful my family has access to medical care and clean water.
I’m thankful I live in a country where I can express my opinions and build a future for my family.
I think it’s important to address runner safety periodically, just to remind us all to consider it, at least on occasion. Runners should be mindful of their surroundings day or night, road or trail. Bad and unexpected things can happen to anyone, anywhere. The number one threat, in my book, to runners is other people.
I know out on the trail there is the possibility of getting lost, falling and having a serious injury, or animal attacks, however, these are less frequent than attacks by other people.
It’s also my opinion that road runners are at higher risk, just because there are more people around them. The approaching winter always makes me think about these things because I’ll be on the roads almost exclusively since the mountains are covered with snow and ice to the point where both running and driving in the canyons become an issue, unless you snowshoe or ski/snow board, which I don’t.
Here are my tips for staying safe out there:
- Run with a friend
- Make sure people know where you’re going and when you expect to be back
- Carry your phone
- Run against traffic
- Wear lights (red flashing rear/front and a headlamp) and reflective gear
- Wear bright colors
- Carry runners mace: buy here
- SING: solar plexis, instep, nose, and groin. These are the places to hit in order to disable your attacker quickly and effectively.
- Change your routes and/or time of day that you run.
- Keep at least one earbud out at all times
- Have identification on your person. Road ID is great for this, you can find it here.
- Pretend you’re invisible, in other words assume drivers and others don’t see you and act accordingly. If a driver doesn’t make eye contact and waive you through, stop and wait for them to go.
- Be cautions around blind turns and hills.
- Use extra caution during the early morning at dusk. Lighting is strange and the sun can be directly in the face of drivers.
- Make eye contact with other people as you pass them.
- Call out when you approach others from behind (you don’t want to scare the shit out of them).
There are safety apps out there for both the iphone and android. Not only can you use them for running but put them on your kids phones and tell other people about them.
- Bsafe has an alarm you can sound with a touch on your phone. It activates your camera and starts recording a video, and broadcasting your location to your friends. The video, voice, location and time are stored on bsafe servers. You can set up a timer that will alert friends/family if you don’t check in by that time (you can update this as you move). Best of all this app is free! Android and apple.
- Glympse allows others to track you while you run. They don’t have to have the app on their phone to do it. Android and apple.
- RunSafe allows you to track your activites like any running app. It has a panic button feature which alerts your contacts and sounds an alarm, activates your flashlight and records sounds. This is free and has upgrade options for a $4.99 monthly subscription. Android and Apple
- RoadID has an app as well. It lets your friends and family actively follow your digital trail, sends an SOS message with your location if you stop moving for five minutes and don’t respond to the app’s alert within 60 seconds. This is free. Only for apple.
- Reactmobile alerts 911 or sends your GPS coordinates to your emergency contacts with a touch of a button. It’s similar to bsafe. Friends and family can also track you real time. Free. Android and apple.
- Kitestring is an app you activate when you enter a potentially unsafe situation. It checks up on you after a period of time and if you don’t respond or post pone the check in, it sends a customized emergency message to your pre-selected contacts. It’s free.
Be Safe out there and if you have other ideas please share them, we have to stick together.
Stress can be good and stress can be bad for our running. Stress forces our body to adapt and get stronger, but too much stress can wear us down and not allow us to recover. Too much stress plus to many miles or hard workouts can lead to injury which then causes more stress and thus the cycle goes on and on my friends.
Stress can come from many different places in our lives leaking into our running, impacting our performance, and syphoning our energy until we dread getting out of bed in the morning resorting to smacking the snooze button half a dozen times.
Maintaining a balance in all aspects of our lives is a very lofty goal and impossible to maintain on a consistent basis making ebbs and flows the standard. That is standard procedure in my world. Sometimes my life blows up and nearly every facet of it becomes a hot mess pressuring me to not get out and run at all, but focus on putting Band-Aids on everything to stem the catastrophe.
Our bodies are interconnected systems. If one system is overwhelmed with stress, it impacts others. Most people divide their lives into seven different facets: physical, emotional, social, environmental, occupational, intellectual, and spiritual when one of these is out of wack, another picks up the slack. This is not a bad thing as long as it’s doesn’t become the norm, in fact, we see it when we have a physical injury. Our supporting muscles take on the work of the injured muscle or tendon allowing it to persist in that way will eventually lead to additional injuries and imbalances.
Chronic stress reduces your body’s ability to recover by compromising your body’s immune system. Breaking your body down too much is not going to produce performance gains. You need to allow your body time to adapt and get stronger. It can’t do that when you’re putting it under high levels of stress on a regular basis even if it’s from different angles of your life.
How should this change the way we train? If you know you have an especially difficult day, make your training for the day easier. When you are planning your training for the season, look at the things you know are coming, which could cause some extra stress. Schedule a rest week during those times. By reducing your miles you will reduce the risk of over training. Schedule your intense workouts such as speed work and long runs for days where you are least likely to be high stress days. Prioritize your workouts. If you have to skip a workout or change things around, dump the easy days and keep your high quality workouts like speed work and long runs.
I am so excited. After four and a half years, my memoir is being released today! This is the story that has given me the strength, passion, and ambition to become all that I am today, including an ultrarunner. The book is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook check it out here.
Here is an overview of the book
Nikki’s story is terrifying and heart wrenching, but most of all it’s full of hope. Readers will move between Nikki’s life on the streets and her life in the courtroom representing the state in a trial to terminate the parental rights of a mother stuck in a cyclone of drug use, violence, and life on the street so similar to her own.
Nikki’s trials began at the age of thirteen when she decided drinking alcohol, sloughing school and having sex were her new path in life. She attempted suicide and began running away from home soon after. By fourteen, she had created a new identity within an alternate reality full of vampires, werewolves, elves and magic. She joined a vampire coven running the streets in the heart of Salt Lake City, Utah.
She was raped shortly after her fourteenth birthday by a rival coven member and in order to gain a sense of security and protection Nikki began a relationship with a man who was ten years her senior. He became controlling, intimidating and violent.
She latched on to hippy boy who freed her from the violent relationship by stealing a car and fleeing to California. They hitchhiked up the western coast selling drugs, using acid, and following the Grateful Dead. Sometime after her 15th birthday, she returned to Utah only to run again within two weeks taking her older brother along. She continued using, selling, and believing she was destined to change the world in some remarkable way.
Shortly after her seventeenth birthday, she realized she was pregnant. The tiny fingers and blue eyes of her son brought her back to reality and propelled her on the journey to becoming an assistant attorney general for the state of Utah, author, and ultrarunner.
Every once in awhile, it occurs to me how lucky I am and how I take many things for granted. I had this very thing happen during my run last Thursday. I was out on a trial I had only been on one other time. It’s very beautiful with aspens trees standing right up against the trail edge, and as you climb higher this changes to a pine forest. The temperatures dropped with each step up toward the saddle of Lambs Canyon Pass. I watched the sun rise from behind the mountains surrounding me. I heard the rustle of birds, squirrels, and all manner of other small creatures waking up.
Whenever I realize how lucky I am to have the opportunity to be out on the trial, I stop and just breathe it all in and try to appreciate it. I think about everything that has to happen and come together to allow me to be out there such as time, where you live, financial ability, freedom, work schedule, family support, and obviously health.
Injuries make us stop and think about how much we do have as runners. It’s unfortunate that, in many aspects of life, we forget what we have until it is gone. As a western society, I think we tend to focus on the negative things in our lives. With our focus on the things which are going wrong or badly in our lives, we lose sight of what is going well and how much we have.
In the United States, there are still many people who live way below the poverty line and lack the ability to meet their own basic needs. But there are also many who are able to do so and those who are able to have enough financial means to provide for their wants and desires as well.
It’s important to remember and be grateful for how much we have compared to those who have so little in our own community and worldwide. This change in perspective will make you more content in your daily life. We all have struggles and obstacles we face at various stages in our lives and because of our choices. Dealing with stressors is easier when you see the things that are positive in your life.
Life gets busy for all of us and we lose sight of the positive things in our lives, but once things slow down stop and remember the beauty in your life. Surround yourself with small reminders of the positive things in or to slow down and see them.
Next time you are out there with your feet floating over the trail or pavement, take thirty seconds, breathe in the beauty that surrounds you, and call to mind all that is positive in your life.