So I have been a runner (cross country and track) for just about majority of my life. I live an active lifestyle that puts running on the top of my workout itinerary. It’s my ‘bread and butter’. Running is one of the closest things to my heart, aside from Disney movies and cats. Running is forever going to be apart of who I am.
My mom has been the most influential leader in my running experiences, from the first pair of tennis shoes I had to buy at Pay-less Footwear in Mt. Vernon, Illinois in fourth grade to the winning the State Championship title for women’s cross country as a sophomore, junior and senior in high school: I shared those moments with my mom. I could always count on her to run through the woods at cross country meet or be at the 300m corner on a track cheering me on; the loudest out of most of the people out there. Rain or shine, if I raced, I never raced alone.
To give some perspective, but not too much: my mom does not have much experience in athletics, much less with sports in running. So when I took on any sport I could growing up, she has to get accustomed to the schedules, where to meet up for softball practices, how long a 5K is (3.1 miles to be exact), the difference between racing shoes and training shoes, etc. She learned a whole other language in each sport I did.
I am very lucky my mom wasn’t familiar with a lot of sports terminology. The pressure of a highly skilled athlete already in the family was never put on my shoulders, so essentially I got to start from scratch and pave my own way without trying to fit the mold of previous athletes in the family.
It has shaped our relationship
Running has helped shape my relationship with my mother. I can not tell you the number of times I have finished a race, dissapointed no doubt, and complained or cried in front of my her. And she would be my mental coach; she would say “breathe through your eyes” before most of my races to help calm the nerves. As I got older, into my junior and senior seasons of cross country, I learned that racing shouldn’t be the most stressful thing in the world and not to have such high expectations for myself.
Even today, I suffer from a constant pain my right knee that lead to me stop running for college and that decision killed me. It wrecked my mentality of what I could physically do from there on and my mother was on that journey to recover with me. My first year of college I think was particularly difficult because I started my first collegiate season of cross country by myself. My parents were still living in Alaska and I was just starting school in Washington and knew no one. I had to get used to real quick of not having my parents, my mom especially at any of my races because she wouldn’t be able to make it. So that was emotionally taxing and stressful at times because I had to run alone, no support around me that I knew.
But with every physical coach, there should also be a mental coach, and that’s my mom: she will always be my mental coach. To this day I will still call her and have a conversation of what physical challenges I want to accomplish next, whether that be the Ironman, a half marathon or triathlon and she will be just as excited as me to see it happen.
Running is a way of lifestyle for me and my mother. With every stride I take, she is there with me. She has taught me to breath smarter, be patient and to never settle for something I know I can do better at.
My mom is as much of a runner as I am.