I’ve always loved the story of Esther. Here was a woman put in a powerful position with a strong commitment to her family and her faith. She had so much courage. I am in no way comparing myself to Esther but I think we can all relate to the last phrase of Esther 4:14- “for such a time as this”. This verse often comes to mind when I think about the different phases in my life.
On Monday a client I coach emailed me that she needed to take a break from training. She has a few young children (one who is still waking up throughout the night to nurse) and following a training schedule was proving to be too much for her right now. The very same day, a former client of mine emailed me to say that she would like to start back with training. She had taken a few months off due to personal reasons and she was ready to get back into a regular running routine. Both of these situations got me thinking about my own life and when I’ve been able to train and when I’ve needed to take a step back.
For Such a Time as This- Taking a Step Back
I remember when I had three young children (age 3 and under) and training was not on my radar at all. I tried to get in a few easy miles a couple days a week but I was not following any plan. I was running more for weight loss and a couple minutes of kid-free alone time. I went at very random times because waking up early was not realistic. Most of my 20’s were spent pregnant, nursing, and home with little ones. Could I have run competitively during this time? Sure, but the timing wasn’t right. My kids needed me with them. When I ran my first half marathon with my husband our youngest child was almost one. After this race I completely caught the running bug and decided I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I was able to qualify that fall but plans changed when I became pregnant with our fourth baby. I was very anxious and tried to jump right back into training after our son was born. I wanted to be that mom who could do it all. I was nursing around the clock and waking up early to run. Doing too much too soon led to a stress fracture and I was forced to take a break. I found out I had a stress fracture the week before the Boston Marathon and I was devastated. Looking back on this time I have to admit that this was the best thing that could have happened to me. It forced me (because I’m stubborn like that) to slow down and take a break. At the time I had 4 children (age 5 and under) and I did not need to be training for a marathon or any race for that matter. I needed to be home with my new baby and other little ones. I’m sure there are others who could handle it (and I’m not judging anyone!) but I know that for me personally it was too much and I needed to take a break. After several months I started running again but with lower mileage and my expectations changed.
For Such a Time as This- Running to My Potential
Fast forward a few years and I find myself in another stage. I have three kids in school and one in pre-k. I’m working part-time outside the home and have a little more flexibility with my schedule. I’m not waking up in the middle of the night with babies so running early is very doable. While I’m not at all trying to qualify for the Olympic trials or anything like that I do consider myself a fairly competitive runner. I love racing and pushing myself to be the best runner I can be. In the back of my mind I know there will be a time when I cannot do this. This past weekend I turned 37. I don’t feel that old but I know I’m not getting any younger! Yesterday was my first track workout in a while. I had 10 x 600m repeats. While I was pushing myself and sprinting around the track I had my usual, “why am I doing this again?” moment. I quickly reminded myself of a quote I saw years ago- “There will be a time when I can no longer do this. Today is not that day.” I repeated this phrase to myself each time I made another lap. This is where I am right now. I do not know where I’ll be in ten years or even next year but this is what I can do right now.
Wherever you find yourself whether it’s trying to juggle family, a job, or health issues- embrace it. Make the most of it. Set reasonable expectations and do the best you can with where you are right now. If training for a marathon (or any race for that matter) is not realistic for you with your family / job demands then don’t pressure yourself to do it. It’s really ok to take a step back. And as hard as it is, try not to compare yourself to others who are doing what you cannot.
If you find yourself at a time when you can push yourself then don’t be afraid to work hard. It’s not always easy and sometimes you’ll have the “why am I doing this to myself?” moments but it is worth it. Always give your best, “for such a time as this.”