Over the last couple of years several people have asked me to comment on how to manage ultramarathon running with a full-time job and raising an energetic family. Admittedly, I’ve basically dodged the question but recently I’ve thought more about it and can think of five essentials for balancing running, work, and life:
- Pick a family that loves ultrarunning. Without my wife and kids as supporters and guides I would have quit this game a long time ago. But with them along with me in races and in training the events are as much about the family as they are about the running. I admit that it takes time to nurture this (my son Carson ‘crewed’ his first race when he was 10 months old) but, in the end, it’s worth it.
- Learn to integrate running into your life and not have it as an ‘add-on.’ Since my family knows running is important to me and my sanity they support me in doing it every day. But I can’t let it get in the way of our daily existence. As such, I have run in such inauspicious places as airport terminals when I’m traveling, around multi-field soccer complexes where my kids have games, and up and down ski runs while my boys are waiting to race. It’s not always perfect but it is part of the deal and it’s better than not running so that’s good. And I can say things like ‘I once ran around a mall eight times while my kids tried on clothes.’
- Wake up early and run. While it is brutally hard, the best runs happen before the spouse and kids are awake. There is nothing better than coming home from a 15-mile tempo run and then waking up your family with fresh coffee and hot pancakes. It takes will power to drag yourself out of bed two hours before the milk man and you’re likely to doze off in the third quarter of the Rose Bowl but, again, it’s worth it.
- Make sure your employer/employees know how important running is to you. Most of us don’t have jobs in which running is part of the deal. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to be sure to let those who care for us, love us, and employ us know that running is not only what we do it is who we are. Once we have convinced them of this it is easier to share in the endeavor and to spread the joy of running to others. Or, at least, it lets us squeeze in a five miler at lunch.
- Keep it simple. As a fully-employed, married father of three it is impossible to really stick to a training plan. Sure, I like to think I have one but, in the end, all I really need/want to do is run. If I can do that every day I’m good. Then, when May rolls around and I need to be a bit more prescribed in my thinking/planning/processing I have some money in the bank to do so. And then, it’s time for vacation in Squaw Valley.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales in Delaware. They make a great Imperial Pale Ale. Their Robert Johnson’s Hellhound on My Ale is a lemony, hoppy brew made on the occasion of bluesman Robert Johnson’s 100th birthday. It’s a great springtime beer.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- Do any of AJW’s essentials resonate with you as ways you balance it all?
- What are your essentials for fitting in your sport with the rest of your life?