Guilt And The Long-Distance Runner

AJW writes about the guilt long-distance runners sometimes feel when taking time away from the rest of life to run.

By on January 15, 2016 | 21 comments

AJWs TaproomAs runners around the world are gearing up for a new year of running and shaking off the winter rust, many are outlining training plans, organizing themselves for races, and collecting gear. In this process, in countless places, a balancing act is occurring: the balancing of training with the rest of life. We all have jobs, spouses, families, and other responsibilities, and so this balancing act can be particularly tricky.

I speak to literally hundreds of runners every year and inevitably this topic comes up. And, in particular, the topic of guilt is raised. Let’s face it, long-distance training and racing is an inherently selfish endeavor that can eat up days, weeks, and months of time that could be spent doing something else. Whether we are the mother attempting to care for young children, the son caring for an aging parent, or the successful professional caring for a business, inevitably questions of guilt arise and they can be painful at times and, in the worst cases, destructive.

For me, I battle this feeling of guilt often. Fortunately, I am blessed with an understanding and forgiving family, a more or less manageable job, and limited responsibilities beyond family, work, and running. As such, most of the time the guilt can be assuaged. But not always.

In the end, in addition to the inevitable balancing act, it also comes down to compromise and communication. And, long-distance runners aren’t always good at these things! But, we need to be.

So, as you roll into the new year of training and racing, accept the feelings of guilt that are inevitable. Claim them and name them and then seek the clearest path through that allows you to find that balance. In the long run it will be worth it for you and for everyone else in your life.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Lagunitas Brewing Company Brown Sugga'This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Lagunitas Brewing Company in Lagunitas, California. Their Brown Shugga’ Special Ale has really hit the spot for me lately. Yes, it has a high ABV and more than its fair share of calories, but its rich complexity is undeniable. It’s a great winter beer!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Do you feel guilty about your running habit? Of taking time away from work, family, friends, and other important things of your life?
  • Since we all experience imbalances in organizing our lives, have you ever let your running overtake other aspects of your life? If so, how did you reestablish the necessary alignment of priorities?
Andy Jones-Wilkins
finished in the top 10 men at the Western States 100 7-straight times. He's sponsored by Patagonia and Drymax socks and is iRunFar's editorialist.