I’m Not The Runner I Used To Be, But……

Last night I got in a run as I left work.  Over the past few weeks I have made a transition to going back to work.  I am lucky to have a job where I can set my hours and they are sporadic, fun, and active.   The other half of my job involves working with running clients which is also fun and active.  But once you have a child, it takes a lot of balance.  And when there are two runners in the house, there involves a lot more coordinating to get our daily runs and workouts in.

Gone are the days when I could wait around and then pop out the door on a whim and come back 15 miles later.  Now every run has to be carefully planned around both of our schedules.  We have to work to make sure that we each get a run in and have time to get everything else done too.

I start marathon training next Monday and I am feeling a mix of excitement and apprehension as that day approaches.  I’m excited to be back on a schedule and to even be considering a marathon.  But this time around I have goals.  The last time I ran a marathon I had nothing to expect and I surprised myself by qualifying for Boston.  I didn’t even push myself to my limits during the race and it made me wonder what I could have done.  This time I know what I am capable of, or should I say, what I was once capable of.

Back then I ran a lot.  I would run 55-70 miles per week and randomly go for 20+ mile runs on the weekend.  Just for the heck of it!  This time, I have struggled to find the time to get in some double digit runs between work schedules, weather, a sick baby, and life.

So last night when I was running, I looked at my watch as I weaved around ice patches and snow mounds to check my pace.  With each mile, I would think, “Ok, I only have to run that pace for 22 more miles.”  Then I would start to wonder how I did that so effortlessly in the past.

A thought came to my mind, “I’m not the runner I used to be.”  Talk about discouraging!  It’s true.  I’m not the runner I used to be.  I’m a mom now.  I’m older.  I have a new job and new responsibilities.  And that’s okay.

As I played with this notion in my head, I tried to put it in perspective.  That is when another thought came to my mind, “But I wasn’t the runner I am now.”  Sure I am older.  Yes I don’t have time to go run when I want and come back when I feel like it.


On the other hand, I have a lot of experiences under my belt.  I’ve learned how to properly rest and to know when my body needs extra time to heal.  I am more patient with my body.  I’ve coached hundreds of other marathoners and know things will be okay.

I also had a baby and I know that I can push my body to the brink…..and then some.  I know what it takes to push through the hard times and that when your mind says you can’t take it a step further, your body can take over (and vice versa).

I’m more forgiving with my schedule and know that things can be readjusted.  A training plan isn’t a Bible and a missed run or a crappy run won’t break me.  I know when to push myself and when to be patient.

I think as athletes this is an important lesson.  We shouldn’t get so concerned about living in the past, or missing what was in the past.  Those memories aren’t going to help move us toward our goals.  Instead, focus on what you have learned and what you can do now.  In many ways, we can use our experiences to move us forward and become stronger and smarter athletes.  And in the end, remember that as we got older, those qualifying times get slower!


30 thoughts on “I’m Not The Runner I Used To Be, But……

  1. Great advice and post! Very inspiring. I think our past is just building blocks to the present and future (in terms of running, our previous miles and runs are a great base!)– so can’t agree more with you! What marathon are you training for? Good luck!

  2. What I’m hearing here is that you are a wiser, more patient, experienced, and forgiving athlete and those are good things! Forget the time and pace, you’ve got the mindfulness that is so critical to life as a parent.

    • Yes, exactly. Thank you so much for your kind words. I rarely worry about pacing but occasionally as I start to think about getting back into it, those numbers start to creep it. I know that speed comes along with the training but it can always get a bit overwhelming. Thanks again.

  3. And know that it will get better when they’re older. My wife and I go on bike rides together all of the time now. It just takes some time to get it sorted. Good luck!

  4. It is like we tell our trainees: Work with you are, where you are, NOW. It doesn’t mean you are better or worse than you used to be, but you are here, now. I may have to be really careful going forward, but at least I’m going forward!

  5. Great post, as a father of a 3 year old, and husband of a runner, I definitely understand the balancing workouts with your spouse and scheduling. Kudos to you for continuing to make it work even after having kids. I think it’s so important for our kids to see us living a fit and healthy life as an example. Keep up the good work!

  6. Sounds like you’re mentally in a good place and that’s awesome! I’m finding it very difficult to get my workouts in. I thought I would train for a marathon this spring/summer but now I’m not so sure. Maybe a couple of halfs.

    What’s your new job?

    • A full is pretty ambitious. I love halfs because of the decreased time commitment. After these fulls I would love to work at speeding up my half times. I am now working again up in Winnetka teaching sports classes and skating lessons. It feels good to be back. When you are ready, I have an awesome child care place in Northfield that I just adore.

  7. great words of wisdom here. i’ve been trying to reflect more on this principle too, that we do the best with what we have, where we’re at, from who we are at that moment, and try not to be too hard on ourselves. sure, we can aspire toward goals and push ourselves to new limits and rejoice over challenges overcome — these are all great things. but we need to give ourselves some grace to accept ourselves exactly where we’re at, and work steadily from there. ❤

  8. As I read this, I had a couple of thoughts … the first was the ‘I am enough’ mantra. While it might not seem to apply here, I think it does – as the other commenters have said, we all have to accept who we are NOW. And that IS enough … it has to be. We can all be our own worst enemies – comparison is a terrible thing we do to ourselves!

    The other thing I think is “I’m not the runner *I* used to be” … when I had little kids I really struggled to juggle job, fatherhood, marriage, long commute, running and finding time to relax and maybe even sleep! Now that my boys are older, I CAN just go for that 20 miler just because it is a nice day. I know I am fortunate to have a body that is resilient and forgiving and allows that ‘get up and go’ approach. But regardless, now that I own more of my own time – I have become a better runner than I ever thought, and toss off distances daily that I once thought were impossible.

    Point being – be proud of who you are NOW, and then in the future you get to redefine yourself again!

    • As always, I love your comments. As a new parent I really appreciate the chances to run with my husband when I can. And I love the idea of, I am enough. Learning to feel that way is a freeing!

  9. Sarah – you are always so insightful! We are often our own biggest critics when we should really be our own best friend. If your bestie just had a baby and was getting back into running you wouldn’t expect her to be knocking out her pre-baby PRs, so why should we expect that of ourselves? We need to top being so tough on ourselves!

    • Ah, I love this! Learning to be your own best friend is so important. In many ways, running is so great for this. You spend a lot of time and miles alone and talking to yourself. You better be saying nice things out there!

  10. Great perspective. I have (chronic) bronchitis right now and until it goes away (several weeks from now) running will be limited. When I can get back to training, I will have lost a lot of fitness and will need to start over. It’s always a bit depressing at first.

    Love this post. I’ll be rereading this when I’m better and training again.

  11. I think one of the biggest challenges to get back to running after having our son was definitely coordinating the schedule to fit in the training. However, I think it’s been a good thing though, as my time management is much better and my training has become more purposeful!

  12. I compare me to younger me a lot. You flip it around perfectly! It’s important to make big goals, and remember there are so many ways to get there. I can’t wait to read about your next training journey!

  13. Pingback: You Can Be Like Fine Wine & Stinky Cheese | Running On Healthy

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