Cat’s In The Cradle – Finding Time for Family and Training

I’m busy. Sure, we’re all busy. I’m no busier than you (more on that in a minute). Some weeks you have to be a little creative to cram in a run or a workout without sacrificing those precious minutes with your family. For many of us, that means just getting up a little earlier than we’d like to. For others, it means staying up later than we should. Personally, I have no idea why hitting the elliptical at the gym at 5 am seems to be more socially acceptable than at 11 pm, but that’s just me.

Running when the kids are in bed has always been my preference. I have both headed out the door after dark and arisen for morning runs before first light many a time. However, there are times when lack of sleep, meal schedules, and other activities just render that impossible. Such was my theme for the week.

Tuesday was a scheduled 8 mile Semi-long workout for me. A 2 mile warmup, followed by another 6 miles at a faster pace. The only “available” time slot? My son’s soccer practice, indoors at an elementary school. (Too bad – running barefoot around the plush soccer fields at Lone Elm Park is one of my faves – c’mon spring!). I could have driven over to the gym and hit the ‘mill, but that would have cost me 5+ minutes at either end. Instead, I was glad to find that the school had a super-long main hallway and a friendly custodial staff. It was boring, but I got in a solid hour of going back and forth. I didn’t count, I didn’t measure, and I didn’t bring my Garmin. I just went by feel and tried to keep my pace up with rhythmic breathing (something I have written about before – I didn’t know it had a name and devotees until this months Runners World article!). Pretty sure I got the 8 miles in. I also popped into the gym periodically to check in. It worked great – much better than a drop off and pick up.

Thursday had a 7 mile tempo run on the slate. My son caught wind that I was was headed out as soon as I got everyone in bed and pounced: “Daddy, can I run with you?” Cue Harry Chapin. There have been times when I have said no. Usually I have a “good” reason – it’s too late, I’m going too far, etc. Some reasons are about the kids, some are about me – admit it. This time, I’m glad to say I didn’t hesitate. It was about 8:30 pm. He had school tomorrow, but it was the last day before spring break. It was cooling off, but the temps had been in the 70s and there was that glorious post-dusk vacillation of warm air currents and cool valleys. Why not? Yes, I said. Let’s go for a run. We did a 3 mile out and back. Our pace was slower than I would have run for my warmup if I had been by myself, but I boosted my effort by carrying the conversation. After dropping him off, I headed back out for the fast-paced part of the tempo run – 3 miles with a mile cool down. I did that as a 4 mile out and back.

Finding the time and effort to say yes when your kids get excited about running is worth whatever you give up in terms of minor personal goals for a workout. Finding ways to spend more time with family and still squeeze in your run is always worth it – whether that’s running at weird times or in weird places!

Whenever I get a little too full of my own “busy-ness” I am reminded of the way the Count of Monte Cristo cuts down the self-important Villefort (like me, an attorney, I might add): “Why, in truth, sir, … man is but an ugly caterpillar for him who studies him through a solar microscope; but you said, I think, that I had nothing else to do. Now, really, let me ask, sir, have you? -do you believe you have anything to do? or to speak in plain terms, do you really think that what you do deserves being called anything?”

The Count’s point is not that our lives are devoid of meaning. I choose to think that we must strive to capture meaning through the estimation of others – not our own!

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