3 Lessons I Teach My Kids Through Running

Running has a plethora of health and emotional benefits, but the greatest thing it does for me is constantly teach me life lessons that I can pass down to my boys.22730150_10101881008949964_95213028041673266_n

1). It’s not all about them.

My life could easily revolve around my kids if I let it. Between school, activities, and friends, they could control my entire schedule and every waking moment. But if I let that happen, what I’m teaching them is that my time isn’t valuable and that my needs don’t matter. I run for many reasons including “me time”, to have solitude, it makes me happy, it keeps me healthy. I run because it makes me a better wife and mom. I want my kids to know the world doesn’t revolve around them. I want to teach them to respect and appreciate others and their needs. My running plays a role in that lesson.

2). It’s important to always have a goal.

I want my boys to feel they have a purpose, and what better way than to continuously set goals and strive to finish? If I’m not modeling that for them, who will? Someone will be influential in their lives, and I want that someone to be me. Believe it or not, my setting a running goal and crushing it feeds their drive to set and accomplish their own. It teaches them that they can do hard things and that the journey is always worth it.

3). You’re never too old to dream.

How many of us stopped dreaming when we had kids? Our lives became so saturated with the daily grind of sleep schedules, diaper changes, and cleaning up messes that we forgot to find something for ourselves. I want my boys to know that their dreams don’t need to end when they have a family of their own. Their dreams matter. If I don’t continue to dream, how can I truly support theirs? A life of a dreamer is beauty in the mundane. Dreaming takes us to places we’ve never been. Successful people are dreamers. My running models for them how to dream big.

My running feeds my soul, but it also teaches my boys that it’s not all about them, to always have a goal, and that they’ll never be too old to dream. Those lessons are invaluable, so I will continue running, learn new things, reach new heights, and inspire my boys to be better in the process.

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Running a Good Race

Twin Cities Marathon 2010 009Motherhood is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. I ran my first marathon 5 years ago this fall. In the midst of training for the Twin Cities Marathon, I started to compare running to my journey as a mom, and now, 5 years and four marathons later, I still see the correlation.

I have learned that I can train as hard as I want, but I will never fully be prepared. How can you prepare for the unexpected?  I can study the terrain, but there’s always going to be that bump in the road that I didn’t see on paper. And it may get simpler with each race – I may have more clarity with each race – but the journey to the finish line is never the same.

Thinking back to 5 years ago, what did I do to prepare for my first 26.2 mile race? I associated with runners who have already been there who could give me words of encouragement and advice. I followed the game plan to build my endurance – the payoff? I finished. Did I finish perfect? No, but I finished strong.

The same thing goes for parenting. As mothers, we need the association of moms whom we see as positive role models who have already been there. They’ve traveled that road and paved the way. They can train us, teach us, and give us a game plan for success.

We also need the association of moms who are in the same season as we are. They know exactly what we are going through at each stage because they’re going through the same things. They can give us a shoulder to cry on, make us laugh, or encourage us to keep going. They will become our best friends. A shared experience always brings people together.

When I crossed the starting line of the Twin Cities Marathon, I was engulfed with many emotions: fear, nervousness, excitement, joy, and a sense of accomplishment.

The first couple of miles seemed easy — The same happened when I became a mom. The first few weeks I enjoyed the honeymoon stage of motherhood. I was so in awe of my precious gift that I saw no flaws and thought that the road would be simple.

Around mile 5 or 6, it started feeling mundane. It started sinking in that I still had a long way ahead of me. However, the crowds of people cheering me on made it fun – In the same way, after weeks and months of tending to baby’s every needs, I began to feel like I was in a rut. It seemed like the same routine day in and day out. I was tired from a lack of sleep and feeling like I didn’t have time for me anymore. But then a mom would say a word of encouragement, or my beautiful baby would giggle, and my joy would be renewed.

By mile 13, the halfway point, I realized running a marathon was a huge commitment. I started seeing the endurance and toughness that it takes to go on – being a mom is no different. I started to feel challenged by my boy’s tantrums or stubbornness. I saw that I needed to be emotionally tough to handle challenges that being a mom brings. If I don’t know my purpose, I can stress and feel like a failure.Twin Cities Marathon 2010 001

By mile 18, I started questioning my ability to go on. Negative thoughts started creeping in. I began playing the comparison
game with all the other runners who seemed unaffected by the pain. I started to think I wasn’t strong enough to be a marathoner — There are times when I question my ability to be an effective mom as well. Sometimes I compare myself to the mom who looks like she has everything put together – she appears well rested and fashionably dressed with makeup on and well-behaved kids right by her side. But then I have to step back and realize it’s not fair to me to compare someone’s best with my worst. And then a little voice softly whispers, “I love you mom,” and it melts my heart.

By mile 23, I started to breathe a little easier. I knew the pain was temporary now. I started to believe in myself and could see the end – I think we all have those days where we breathe a sigh of relief or a little prayer of thanks when a stage our children are in comes to a close.

At mile 25, the adrenaline took over, and I began to sprint with a smile on my face. I was thrilled that it was almost over, that I was about to accomplish something great. I crossed the finish line at the State Capitol with tears streaming down my face knowing my hard work paid off – There’s always a finish line.

I know a mother’s job is never done, but there is a point of victory at every stage of the journey. It’s the little rewards: their first steps, their first word, their first A on a report card, their starting spot in the basketball game. The ups and downs are all worth it knowing you’ve done all you can to raise your children to be men and women of strong character. I see the finish line as all the “I love you’s” and “thank you’s” and hugs and kisses that you get along the way, but ultimately, the finish line is letting them go to affect others the same way you affected them.

I think of Paul in Philippians when he says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

You’re in the race of your life as a mother. Stay on the course and finish strong. It’s always worth it!

Walking in Love,

Gabe