That is a question I encounter time and again and quite frankly, a question that gets me fired up. Many times, I’m asked this question simply because I am a woman and after all, if I want to have a relationship in the future, if I want to get married, be a great wife, and someday become a mom, well then most certainly I can’t run anymore! Right? And sometimes, this questions pops up due to age. With the assumption that aging people can no longer run.
I apologize in advance for my rant today. It’s in part due to an article I read this morning of an amazing man who, at the age of 81, just ran the Toronto Marathon and finished in 3 hours and 30 minutes! That is incredible! That inspires me! What a true story that you can continue to compete, you can continue to run, you can continue to find joy in your sport, even when most think you should have retired. Ed Whitlock is to be admired for never giving up and lacing up his running shoes as long as he can.
Here’s my take on when I think I will finally “give this all up.” Never. As long as my legs will take me there, I will continue to lace up and hit the road. To the claims that to be in a relationship I need to sacrifice my strict training schedule and be more lenient to make room for “love” in my life. Thanks for your concern into my “singleness” but what I actually need is a partner who supports my running. Because it is not a hobby. It is not just a sport. It is a lifestyle. It is my lifestyle. It is my time. It is time where I can be free with my thoughts, struggle through life, pound out frustrations, and come home with a clearer mind, a renewed, refreshed spirit. If I didn’t have that time, believe me, you wouldn’t want to be around me! And the challenge I force upon myself, my journey to get better, to work on speed, to work on strength. It makes up for a mundane job. It fulfills me and gives me what I need to feel whole. I can’t give it justice what running a marathon does for me. What going through 18 weeks of training does for me- both physically and mentally. What feeling I get when I cross that finish line and know that I did this. I worked for this. I pushed myself. Is that selfish? Maybe, but it’s an accomplishment and a sense of self-worth that I will not give up for anyone. It’s for me.
As to the claim that someday when (God willing) I am a mother, I will need to give it up. I run with mothers every day. We get up early. We adjust our schedules to fit the schedules of their husbands and their kids, but we run together. My running friends are amazing wives and mothers and they inspire me. They fit it in because it is their lifestyle. They have found partners who are supportive. And it works.
And finally, the claim that as you grow old, you simply must give it up. That may be true. Some runners experience pain in their joints. However, there is no scientific facts that support that runners face more injuries or do more harm to their bodies than any other sport or athlete. I believe it all comes down to genetics. And as long as my legs and my body cooperates, I will lace up. I can only hope that when I am 81 years old, I am out on the marathon course, relishing the crowds and gaining that sense of strength and accomplishment that fuels me now. And if not, you can bet that I’ll be out there on my bike, I’ll be out there doing whatever my body naturally allows. Because I do not intend to slow down. This is me. Accept it or not. This is my lifestyle. And I acknowledge that it does not work for everybody, but it works for me. I am a runner. It’s in my soul.