“Beware the chair.” It’s a term used by Ultra Runners to symbolize the detriment of sitting at aid stations during a race. You think you are taking a break and recharging, but lactic acid begins to pool in your muscles and your brain goes into “rest” mode. I am NO Ultra Runner, but being a mom requires some pretty strong endurance, and as a wannabe Superwoman I often fear the chair; I fear that if I stray my focus from constantly moving forward with my cape on, everything may fall apart.
Though a recreational runner, I find myself using it as a point of reference in my daily life. In this very special year leading to the big 4-0 I’m setting goals that involve a hefty time commitment on my part. It was clear the stamina required to reach my goals while still #momming and #adulting could have me looking for that dreaded chair every once in a while.
Here are a few pieces of advice that I’ve been able to carry over from running to motherhood:
Life isn’t a destination it’s a journey, right?
There is certainly a sense of accomplishment in checking everything off your to-do list. Whether you are juggling work and soccer practice, fitness and family, or babies and laundry the fact is that we can get so caught up in getting it all done – reaching the finish line – that we forget to breathe.
If you want to go the distance in running, slowing down and taking a walk break can help improve your overall stamina. If you wait too long you may find the fatigue and stress more difficult to recover from than if you would have just slowed down and gathered your thoughts.
In life I like to call this hitting the reset button. After a week of business travel I return home hoping I can make up for the days I’ve missed with my son and still fulfill the other commitments I’ve made. I want it to feel as though I never left; never missed a beat. I start to short-circuit, collapse in my bed with a basket of unfolded laundry, unable to stay awake long enough to finish the first glass of wine I poured. Enter the slow down… Maybe that last hour of awake time would have been better spent watching my son’s favorite show with him, or taking a leisurely walk together with the pups. In fantasy world it could include a warm bath and some time with my 5-minute journal until I drift into a slumber which prepares me to kick but, fully refreshed, on the next day. Whatever that looks like for you, take a walk break every once in a while!
When you repeat any activity over and over again, as with running, you expose yourself to potential overuse injuries. As moms we set pretty tough standards for ourselves regarding what we think we should be doing. We are superwomen, so we need to live up to what we think that role involves, right? Every day we are up with the babies, walking the dogs, making the meals, punching the clock, washing the clothes, serving the community, keeping in touch with mom and grandma… That Pinterest project we wanted to try or cheese tasting we wanted to attend seems to move to the bottom of the priority list. Every day in the hamster wheel can lead to emotional fatigue. It’s important to make the time to stretch your “me” muscle every now and then. It doesn’t have to be a trip across Europe to remind yourself that you’re still important.
Ask for (and accept) Help
Sometimes it can seem completely unrealistic to make time for a shower let alone a trip to Whole Foods to taste cheese. We WANT to be with our kids and families. We CHERISH the sight of them digging into our latest recipe creation. We DREAD the day we won’t be able to control, um I mean PARTICIPATE in these parts of their lives. Just like running a marathon, we can probably complete our daily tasks without any help… we can finish and say we did it and be proud we made it through in one piece. But sometimes by asking for a little help we can really put our potential into overdrive, preserve some sanity, and maybe even have a little energy leftover to celebrate!
A new friend recently said some words that resonated with me, “Be gentle with yourself.” Whatever your mom-style is and however you get through each day – take a second to give yourself a big hug, because you are DOING it!!
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