“What are you running from?”
I hear this pithy remark on almost every run through my neighborhood, usually from nice older gentlemen who are trying to be clever. Depending on my mood I either chuckle and respond with a wave or simply nod my head all the while thinking, “Obviously you have never been a mom or you would know what I am running from.”
Today, it was the editing class I, in a moment of weakness, signed up for in order to be a more effective writer. I haven’t read the chapters or even thought about completing the assignment and my next class is tomorrow morning. I am running from the added stress this class has brought into my already hectic life.
But there are so many things a mother runs from. Sometimes it is the laundry that is piled chaotically on the floor of the laundry room or the dishes that couldn’t fit in the dishwasher after this morning’s playgroup. Often it is the toddler pulling at my legs or screaming at the top of his lungs while playing some game I couldn’t possibly understand. But most often it is the mom inside my head that wants to scream at the toddler who causes me to run.
Whatever it is that I am running from, I am able to lose it on the roads. The stress of my class, the pressure to keep a clean house, or the need to be the perfect mom is shaken off by the pounding of my feet on the pavement. They may come back to haunt me again but for that day they are left in the dust as I run up one court and down the next.
As a runner, this is the part I look forward to the most. There are days I run because it is in the schedule. I need to run long in order to be ready for the marathon, or I need to do speed work so that I might be able to pass my daughter in the next 5K but these days, the running away days, they are the best. There is no expectation of greatness, no schedule to adhere to, just me and the road. If I have left the house running from the mom who wants to lose her temper I may sprint the first mile, if I have left to avoid the work of motherhood I can mosey through the entire run and feel no guilt. This is the run with no pressure and no rules.
Maybe those old men are clever after all because now I realize there is something I am running from but there is also something I am running to. I am running to a peace I can only find on the roads.