Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Something's Gotta Give

I know. Finding time to train is difficult. By the time you get off work, make the commute home, grab a snack and change your clothes something has come up that is going to delay or even prevent you from getting out the door. If your spouse is also a runner/athlete then the number of complications just doubled. Have small children? Trippled. And if you have kids that need taken to sports, band and chess club practice, squeezing in that run just got ten times harder.

So what's a runner to do? You can't get rid of your spouse. Or your kids for that matter. If you’re like me, getting up a 4am is out of the question. Asking your family to drop everything so they can support your running “career” is probably out of the question too. Taking them with you only works if they're willing or can fit into a jogging stroller and besides that, you're life is busy, that quiet time where it's just you and the sound of your heart pounding in your ears is priceless. I hate to say it friend but it looks like something's gotta give.

People ask us all the time, "How do you make it work? How do you guys manage two training schedules with all those kids?" As Chanda covered in her post You Don’t Wanna Know there are a number of household things we do (and don’t do) that help enable us to function as a family of runners but there are a number of things that…um…actually involve training, that also make this possible, often it involves compromise and a little sacrifice but in the long run (pun intended) it’s definitely worth it!

Here are just a few things that I have learned are necessary to making training work with our busy schedules:

Plan Ahead:
OK, this sounds really basic and you’ve heard it said many times but we take planning ahead to another level. See, I’m not talking about making sure you eat well and hydrate before a long run, that you go to bed in your running clothes or that you set your shoes by the front door the night before a morning run. No, I’m talking about synchronizing your calendars. Sit down and look at everyone’s schedules. Put them all in your calendar and then schedule your runs around everyone else’s commitments. Sometimes that may mean running on the treadmill at 10pm rather than your favorite trail at 10am but it sure beats thinking you were going to get that trail run in only to discover that you need to take your son to his chess club tournament thingy instead.

Remember, Your Training Plan is Flexible
Can’t fit in a long run next Saturday? Fear not, training plans are incredibly flexible if you have enough notice. Just because your plan has you doing your long runs on Saturday mornings does not mean that you have to do every long run on Saturday morning. As long as you make sure that you’re not doubling up hard workouts, feel free to rearrange them. Consider swapping Saturday’s long run with Tuesday’s interval training. That way you still get a hard workout in but don’t have to dedicate your entire morning to a long run. Besides, sometimes it’s just nice to mix things up a bit.

Don’t Get Too Hung Up On Where You Run
I’m a trail runner. I like to run in the woods. I love to be out there, on the trails, away from the sounds of people and traffic. Just me, the trees and the animals. Rarely do I feel closer to God than in those moments. But the trails around where I live are only open from dawn to dusk and driving almost an hour to the nearest national park with twenty-four hour trail access isn’t always an option. So I often find myself running along city streets or on my treadmill instead. As a matter of fact, I have a pair of trail shoes that I purchased a couple weeks ago that have yet to see an actual trail. But when faced with choosing between a treadmill run or no run, I choose the treadmill. And I remind myself that I will be better next time I hit the trails because of it.  

Put Your Spouses Training Ahead of Yours
Men, I’m talking to you. Want your wife to be supportive of your running? Do everything you can to ensure that it does not interfere with hers. If you both need the treadmill at night, offer to let her use it first and do something else (preferably something productive like dishes or laundry) until she’s done. There is a greater chance that she will be supportive the times you really need it if you have gone out of your way to show that her success in training is as important to you as your own.

Maybe you’ve been struggling to reconcile running with the rest of your life and you can’t help but think, “something’s gotta give.” Trust me, I understand. Just remember, all is not lost, sometimes a little compromise and preplanning can make all the difference.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chicago on my Heart

Today, being Valentines Day and all, it seems like a good day to share something that's been on my heart.

I'm a selfish runner.

Not what you were expecting?  Just stay with me for a minute.

I have always been a selfish runner.  It took me a year to even tell another person that I ran.  Once the secret was out, it took another 6 or so months before I even ran a training run with another runner.  Running was the one and only thing that I did exclusively for me and I wasn't willing to share it.  I felt like I would lose something special, something important, something that I can't even really name, if I let someone in to that part of my life.

Since then, I have learned the joy of running with a friend, with my husband, my children, total strangers.  I have learned that sharing running can definitely be something special, something important, something that I can't really even name.

But now, I don't wanna just run, I don't wanna just share running.  I want to do something with it.  Something special.  Something important.  Something that I can't even really name.

Many of you may already know that Nate and I have a heart for children who, for one reason or another, cannot be raised by their own parents.  Four of our six children could not remain in the home that they were born into.  Each of them, for different reasons, even though they had living parents, found themselves needing a permanent home.

While our children came to us for a variety of reasons, do you know what the number one cause of parentless children around the world is?  It's not domestic violence, it's not drug abuse, it's not teenage parenthood.  Its HIV and AIDS.  Sixteen million children worldwide have been orphaned by this virus, a statistic that breaks my heart.  And this isn't just a third world problem.  1.2 million Americans are currently living with HIV.  Every 9.5 minutes, someone in the United States in infected with this virus.

I am, by nature, a fixer.  And when faced with this information I felt like there was nothing I could do.  I can't go to Africa and build an orphanage.  I can't take in another child.  I can't provide healthcare to a sick mother.

But I can run.

I will be running the Chicago Half Marathon with Team to End AIDS (T2 for short).  My goal, besides to run my best race ever, is to raise 1600 dollars for this charity that provides hope, healthcare, education, and housing to those living with this disease.  I am already extremely close to reaching this goal.  If you would like to help, you can check out my fundraising page HERE.

I will keep you all posted as to how my training is going, and I plan to post some video blogs from our training runs in the windy city!

*An Aside:  Donation dollars are NOT used to cover race / travel expenses.  Each runner is responsible for the cost of the race fees as well as travel expenses.  Just thought you'd want to know. :)

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

You Don't Wanna Know!

How do you do it?

This is, undoubtedly, the question I hear the most. It is usually accompanied by any of the following statements:

You must really have your hands full.

Better you than me.

I don't know how you do it.

You're done now right?

Is your TV broken?

So I guess you're not going to be training for a big race this year now that you have another baby.

Are they all yours?

I've been asked the "how do you do it" question probably hundreds of times, and ya know what? I never have a good answer. I've been thinking about this a lot. How DO we do it? I should know right? I mean, they're are tons of blogs out there written by other parents of large families, with the sole purpose of answering that very question. They detail their schedules, routines, and habits. They have household tips and tricks. They have crafts, recipes, and potions for homemade everything. Certainly they are very aware of exactly how they do it.

The more I've read, the more I realize that our methods of raising 6 kids, managing a home, training for races, running a business, being faithful in ministry, might not really be blog-worthy. In fact, when it comes down to it, the askers of the inevitable question might not really want to know the answer. In my mind, when I sit down to write a post detailing how we do it, the post will come out looking like some type of Martha Stewart, Runners World, Food Network hybrid. It doesn't. At all. I'm not the kind of mom that gives household advice... I'm the type of mom that usually needs household advice. 

As I step back and assess myself, I can't help but notice that the things that make my life work are sometimes all the wrong things! They are things I know I shouldn't do but I do anyway! Things I should totally do, but don't! So are you ready? Are you really ready to witness the ugly truth? Well if so, here are just a few of my "large family confessions":

1. We don't go to the gym- Ok, this is only specific to the fact that we are big into distance running, and might not interest you if you are a non-runner. We don't go to the gym. To quote one of my favorite movies, "That crap is for rich people who hate themselves." (Kidding) kind of. Find a type of exercise that makes you happy. When your fitness activity feeds your heart instead of just your weight loss plan, you will stick with it. I love running and yoga. I hate weights and lifting. I don't have time or energy to do something that makes me miserable. And that might be totally wrong from a physical fitness perspective, but it's the truth.

2. I run the dishwasher half full- Do not send me angry emails. I am aware that this is not the most planet friendly household practice.  But when all my bottles, sippycups, and forks are dirty at the same time and I know I'm going to have to feed/water several little mouths in the next hour and a half, I run it, full or not.  Could I stand at my sink and handwash them all?  Sure, but I'm not gonna.

3. We don't home-school-  Now, only 2 of our children are school aged, I only bring this one up because in my "research"(that consisted of creeping around on the blogs of other large families) it appears that we are the only bloggers with half a dozen children who don't educate their kids at home.  Seriously, I could not find one family of 8 or more who happily ship their kids off to school each day.  Not that we have anything against it, its just not for us at this point in our lives.

4. Are you ready for this one?  This one's REALLY bad. So bad that I should probably type it in a teeny-tiny font so my mother can't see it.   I don't sort laundry.   What's that you say?  Ok, ok! I said I don't sort laundry!- I know, this goes against everything everyone's mother ever taught them.  I wish I could tell you that it was just a "sometimes" laundry solution, but nope, I actually really never sort laundry.  If we need compression socks, soccer socks, onsies, sports bras, and school uniforms, that's what gets washed.  Other blogs have full tabs devoted to solving the laundry problem that a large family creates.  They have charts, color coded basket systems, half of their kids make up the laundry task force.  I just can't do it.  My system goes like this:  throw dirty laundry down the chute.  put clean laundry away when (and if) it arrives in your room.  Four of our children are 3 and under so step 2 only applies to 1/3 of the population.

There are many (many) more things that fall into the "ugly truth" category, but they make our life functional and keep me sane.  Things like, my Christmas tree is still up. (It's FEBRUARY!).  We sometimes eat in the car.  We don't always (or often) wake up before the kids. I wash things in the dishwasher that definitely aren't dishwasher safe... that aren't even dishes in fact.... like an entire container of mega blocks.  I order pizza for the kids at least once a week during our business's busy season.  When we are going on a trip, I buy new baby/toddler socks instead of hunting for matches.  I have used a Swiffer to scrub my walls.  I change diapers wherever is easiest, I have never owned a changing table.  I don't garden, can, or sew (truth be told, I can barely sew a button on a shirt).  I have more DVDs out of their cases than in them. I often grocery shop several times a week, for no other reason than because long grocery trips stress me out.  So does spending large amounts of money in one trip that doesn't involve buying shoes.

Is is always pretty?  No.  Is Real Simple magazine going to call me anytime soon for an interview?  No.  Is it the truth? Yep.  So the next time someone asks "how do you do it" I'm gonna smile sweetly, tip my head to one side, and whisper incoherently i don't sort laundry. 

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