Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving- and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity, by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea
Reluctantly, over the last year, I’ve become a runner. I started as a walker, setting out in the mornings and looping around our neighborhood or on paths near our house while the kids started to stir. Around the same time, my husband took up running during lunch breaks and started asking me to enter races with him, so I upped my pace. And it was fine. I was fine. Sometimes, I even enjoyed it. Last summer and fall, I ran two 5Ks and took part in the relay portion of our local marathon. Since it got cold, I have given up altogether but honestly, I miss it. My husband and I were discussing this a couple of weeks ago and got ourselves so wound up that we decided to run a half marathon in September. 13.1 miles seems do-able but when I think about it, I get crazy nervous. I picked up this book and it’s companion Train Like a Mother because they sounded just right up my ally.
And I liked this, I really did. I thought that maybe it was aimed mostly at runners who were a bit further into their running careers than myself, but that’s fine- it was inspiring to read that someone’s favorite course to run was the 15 mile loop around their local lake. I loved reading about the nutrition changes and gear purchases I’ll need to make as my milage wracks up. Running low milage has meant that not eating before and wearing cotton legging has been fine, but I knew that all of this would probably need to change and it was great to get tips on that. I thought that the women who wrote this were funny and smart and open about their running struggles, which I really liked. I liked that there was one woman who was competitive and serious about numbers and one that wasn’t. I cannot at all relate to running to beat someone else, but running as a stress reliever, that I can get behind.
I felt like there was a big connection here to the little community we’ve built at WSR. These are women who have refused to give into the mom-bot “I am a mom. I am programed to mom” attitude- they have decided that this thing, running, is important enough to continually pursue. I feel like at WSR, we’ve said that this thing, reading, is important enough to keep doing although it doesn’t seem like there is enough time. This idea wasn’t ever really explicitly stated but kind of draped here or there in different chapters and it really stood out to me. What they were saying was that we, as humans, are important enough to have hobbies that can seem inconvenient for the sole reason of just plain old loving the hobby. Running, reading, whatever it is. I connect deeply with that.
However, the chapters on their kids and husbands? That I couldn’t really get behind. The kids chapter was more understandable for me- a mother running is important for them to see for many reasons (showing a healthy lifestyle, letting them understand that you have needs too, etc) as well as keeping you sane enough to love them when you are with them, also important. But how Sarah talked about her husband made me really sad. Pretty much she painted a picture of resentment and duty which made me really uncomfortable. I don’t know how to describe it except to say that if running were putting me in that place in my marriage, I wouldn’t do it.
All this to say, I think that the promises in the subtitle didn’t exactly come through for me. Yes, it’s a great guide on the hows/whys of running, maybe less so on family management.