How Running Became My Job

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind career-wise as I try to figure out whether I want to be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I was a teacher for a long time, had a kid, went part-time, had another kid, took a year off, went back to work, then left work altogether.

When I’m asked how I’ve been able to improve so much with my running, I must admit that I think a big reason is just that—I haven’t been working. There’s definitely something to be said about work stress impeding on running performance, at least for me.

I honestly think I did so well racing last year because running became the only thing I worked for/towards. Besides taking care of my kids and home (two huge things), my only other big commitment was staying on track with my training schedule. I really considered it like my job. When Thursday said 11 miles at tempo pace, that’s what I did because that’s what I was supposed to do, per the schedule. When that 4:00 a.m. alarm went off, I got up and went to work.

I felt like since I wasn’t employed, running/training was something I could get fulfillment from–something that could make me feel a different sense of accomplishment. Not to say that I don’t get fulfillment as a SAHM, but having had a job my entire life, being employed had become a part of who I was.

Running became my job. And since I really do love working, this wasn’t such a bad thing. I clocked in and out on my Garmin, and each week I’d collect my mileage paycheck. My bonus? Finish lines (and PRs).

101 miles, 176, miles, 152 miles

One, sometimes two days off per week..

It hasn’t been a bad gig, but I’m still at a crossroads on what I really want to do. I love having a job and actually really miss it (who am I?!). On the other hand, I’ve also enjoyed being at home with my kids and making training a big part of my daily life.

I always admire those who can do it all– work full-time and train full-time and be parents full-time. I just know for me, one of those is going to eventually suffer and when it comes down to it, I know it will most definitely be my training.

With big goals like trying to Boston Qualify, a part of me wants to sign another contract with running.

Yet, the workforce keeps calling….


27 responses

  1. Goodness I understand this. Running, in many ways, became my job before I made it an actual part of my job. I think it is because it is where I felt most fulfilled. Before that, it was horses.

  2. I love this post. I felt similarly that running was my thing to focus on/work on that was separate from family life. And I agree that it is a lot easier to be dedicated to training when you don’t also have any outside job that requires your mental or physical availability at specific times of the day. Let alone the responsibility that comes along with it.
    It was pretty easy for me to leave my job as a financial analyst before I became a SAHM though. It was a paycheck rather than a fulfilling career 🙂 I hope to stay home for quite some time since I want to be able to freely volunteer in my kids’ classes as they get older, but I do think about what I want to do eventually.
    A friend of mine is a reading specialist and works part-time – I think 2.5 days/week. She really loves it because she gets the fulfilling part of teaching and the flexibility of being home half the time.

    • At the time (and still often now), it was easy for me to let go of teaching. Class sizes kept growing and growing and so did the stacks of grading. I dreaded taking so much work home when all I wanted to do was play with my kids. That’s what keeps my desires to return at bay. And like you, I look forward to volunteering and being active in my kids’ scholastic lives.

      Part-time would be lovely if there was something available that I liked. I’m picky now that I don’t necessarily have to work, lol!

  3. Oh gosh, two full time jobs. Training for a 30+ mile race takes a ton of time. Luckily the wife is extremely supportive because I’m sure she wanted to kill me at times lol. With a full time job and a fsmily, it really takes support from those close to you to be successful and see improvements. Only way to make it work.

  4. I’ve always wondered what I would be capable of if I had the opportunity to spend a year (or even just a few months) literally dedicating myself full time to running. What finish times would I be capable of, how fast could I get, if I had the time and energy to work out twice a day and run 90 mile weeks? I don’t think I’d find that very fulfilling as a permanent career, but I have ALWAYS been curious what my potential is.

    To be perfectly honest, I actually enjoy my job, but I wish I could afford not to have to work. Or to work part-time. It’s a double edged sword: the “daily grind” gives me structure and a steady paycheck which are good for me, but I often wonder what I’m missing out on spending so many hours of my life sitting in a cubicle. But at the end of the day, there’s no such thing as a perfect situation – I’m thankful for the good things I have and I know the grass always seems greener on the other side. 🙂

    • Oh totally, the grass seems greener a lot of the times even though it may not be. I think that’s a big reason why I’m frustrated–I’ve tried being a working mom and I’ve tried being a SAHM. You’d think I’d have enough info to make a decision, lol! I’m definitely grateful though, that I have the choice and I don’t *have* to actually choose.

  5. I sincerely appreciate that you wrote this post. I often get annoyed when runners say that they accomplished their goals because they worked hard and you can do it too because they usually leave out the element of privilege that allowed them to work hard at running. You had a great opportunity to focus on your running and you took advantage it.

    • Definitely. I remember telling Ben exactly that–I was going to take advantage and make the most of my time at home. Even though I woke up waaaay earlier than I would’ve for my real job to go train, it was worth the sacrifice.

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  7. I love that you took full advantage of your opportunity to train hard in 2016. It was very inspiring and motivating to read about!

    I love my job, but there are aspects about it I wish I could change. Even though my work hours are somewhat flexible I wish they were more flexible. I’d love to work from home a couple of days a week so I could slip out and go to the doctors or grocery shopping or do other little mundane tasks during my lunch break, and then just eat at my desk. As it is now I often eat at my desk and work through lunch anyway, so it would be nice to use one hour in the middle of the day to do something that I could take off my list at night. That being said, I have worked from home full time before and that wasn’t for me either because I missed being around other people!

    • It’s the being around other people–even teenagers, lol!–that I miss as well. We do play-dates but sometimes I like adult interaction just by myself, you know? That being said, my youngest will be starting school soon so I will have the school day to myself and I’m looking forward to that! 🙂

      I would work through lunch all the time too b/c I wanted to have as little to take home as possible. Sometimes writing it out really helps put things into perspective!

  8. Until you have children, you have no idea just how time consuming it will be. Running and being a parent is a full time and a half job! But I cannot imagine being a mom, working full time, and training for a marathon. That would come with the title of Wonder Mom.

    • You really don’t. Adding kids to the mix makes all things harder, lol! I trained for Phoenix Marathon (’15) and Chicago Marathon (’15) while working full time (and parenting) and yeah, if you recall, those weren’t my best races, LOL.

  9. Ahh yes. This is such a common dilemma; you are definitely not alone! My situation was different because my degree didn’t really get me anywhere; I need to go get my masters if I want to do physiotherapy or I need to go get my teaching certificate if I want to teach. So essentially, I ended up working at Starbucks, The Running Room, a physio office (that didn’t pay well at all) so when I was single with three kids, I was barely hanging in there. My running was amazing, because I had time to run when the kids went to Jason’s house or when they were at school and I wasn’t working that day. Plus those jobs aren’t exactly that taxing. Like, I can punch out and leave my work at work. Now, Andrew makes way more money doing his thing, so if I take care of everything/everyone at home, it frees him up to work long hours, etc. We have a good system going on. Staying at home with kids is not for the weak, that’s for sure. It’s thankless, it’s messy, and the potential to build resentment and develop a day drinking problem is huge. No other adults are around to validate or reward us for all the hard work we do, and nobody really knows how much we really do (except other stay at home moms/dads). It’s a tough decision, and it’s a personal one and there is no textbook answer. AHHHHH!!!

    • It’s definitely not for the weak and I knew that going in b/c I knew that it would be waaaay outside my comfort zone. I’ve definitely loved it, but I also think b/c I worked so hard for my degree (first to go to college, worked full time during) it makes me a little sad to think I might not use it again or for a long time. I think the solitude is what gets to me the most and I tell myself that having 150 essays to grade isn’t enough to justify adult company, lol!! At the end of the day, I know what my answer is, and I’m lucky that it’s not a bad one at all 🙂

  10. Wow, what a great opportunity. I am jealous. I am currently teaching, coaching and trying to balance my home/ mommy life. My running def takes a hit some days when I just don’t have enough of me to go around. Luckily with coaching track and cross country, I manage to get some miles in with my team and then I can squeeze some early morning miles in too. It’s quite exhausting and some days I’m beat and I feel completely guilty when 7 pm rolls around and I am too pooped to play with my dear daughter. This time of year is definelty the hardest. I am training for Boston and that is my main motivation to push through the dark cold months . I much prefer training through the summer months and running fall marathons. I will probably stick to halfs or shorter in the spring next year.

  11. I’m finally *trying* to get caught up on my blogs! I am a former working mom turned SAHM who feels that running and my events (marathons, including Boston, and triathlons, including an Ironman) gives me my own identity outside of being a mom and wife. I’ve tried some part time jobs through the years (my kids are 14 and 10), and what I’m drawn to the most is running. I noticed a void in affordable running programs outside Stride and Girls on the Run, so I started my own company and that’s what I do to do what I love and make a little money. I coach a program at the elementary and middle schools my kids attend – it’s all centered on teaching them about running, making it fun, learning the keys to success, and I find that if I can make a difference that way, then that’s all I need. I coached a few clients to marathons or half marathons, and that’s what I would REALLY love to do. I have time to train, take care of my kids (no one has to worry about when they’re sick, summer vacation, doctor appointments, anything, because that’s what I do), my husband (who truly appreciates all I do and the athlete I am and want to be), and work part time doing something I love. So if you’re struggling, think about what makes you happy, because you just never know where it may lead. If someone had told me ten years ago I would have a youth running program, I’d have to tell them “SHUT UP” because I would’ve never believed it! Give yourself a ton of credit, because staying home with the kids is not easy (nor is working for that matter, I did it, wasn’t for me), and I don’t think many people understand how hard it actually is.

    • Thank you so much!! You’re so right, it’s so hard and I really did not think it was going to be for me but I also know, having tried both being a working mom and SAHM, that it’s better to be home than having the added stress of a job. I think I go through phases, lol!!! So much congrats on you taking that giant leap and starting your own business. So inspirational! Thank you for sharing!

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