I will be the first to admit that my running can seem very selfish on the surface. I spend hours every week running and cross training. I spend time away from my son and our family when I go to races and when I am training. I even plan destination races to fun locales and then I leave my son behind to pursue my wanderlust / running passion.
There have been times when my son tells me he doesn’t want me to go running but I go anyways. When he asks why, I tell him it is because it is something that I like to do. Something that I need to do for myself and my health. I also tell him that he gets to do things that he likes to do, so I get to as well. He’s eight, so he understands these concepts more now than when he was younger. When he was younger he would sometimes cry when I went out for a run. I went anyways. My heart always ached but I still went.
So sure, on the surface my running looks selfish. But in reality, it is the best thing that I can do for my son. It is the best thing I can do for all of my relationships. And it is certainly the best thing that I can do for myself.
It recharges me. It calms me. It relieves my stress. It makes me a better person, a better Mom, a better fiance and a better employee.
It makes me better at whatever hat I am wearing because like most people, I wear a lot of hats. And it can be exhausting. Sometimes I don’t want to wear a hat. Sometimes I just want to be me. And that is what running does for me. It lets me be just me. During those miles I am just Betsy. I am not a Mom, or a fiance, or an employee. I am just me. It’s my me time. It’s me putting myself first. And it is very needed. And I don’t feel guilty about it (most of the time anyways).
So you may be wondering what prompted all of this rambling. Recently, in a running group that I belong to on Facebook one of the members posted that she really needed to go on a solo run but her son asked if he could go with her. She emphasized how much she needed some alone time but also mentioned she wanted to encourage his interest in running.
Most people commented that she should take him with her. The comments included tidbits of wisdom that referenced how short life is, how you should spend as much time as possible with your kids, yadda yadda yadda. (I get it trust me….)
There was a small portion of us (myself included) that replied she should go alone if that is what she needs.
As parents we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of our to do list. It’s not healthy. It’s not good for ourselves or for our kids. When we put ourselves at the bottom of our list we are showing our kids that we do not value ourselves and that they are always more important. It is a path that is certain to lead to burn out and we are creating a version of ourselves that is less than our best.
Now I am not saying that she shouldn’t take her son running with her ever. She can certainly take him running sometimes. And I am certainly not saying that running should always come first because there are days when things won’t go as planned so flexibility is key. BUT she shouldn’t feel guilty about saying no to her son on those days where she really needs time to herself.
And it doesn’t have to be running. It can be whatever it is that makes you feel like you are not wearing a hat. Whatever gets you excited about just being you. Whatever it is that recharges you and makes you feel like the best possible version of yourself after you do it.
You also don’t have to be a parent. You can take time away from your significant other, your family, your friends.
So give yourself permission to be selfish. You deserve it.