When I began my real running journey it was as my first year as a single mom. I was re-learning my life, my identity, and struggling with just about everything. As I’ve explained many times before, a friend of mine who has become family, my running Dad “Jim” said, “Run With Me”. That year I started training at the gym and taking long runs with him where he’d travel all the way from the East Side (Detroit-Metro) to the West Side to help me train for my first half-marathon.
As a single mom, working full time how did I do this? How do I do this with THREE dragons instead of two? Now, it’s largely due to having an insanely supportive partner, but then it was something I really had to fight for. It was a mix of sheer will power, focus on my goal, and fear of letting Jim down when he believed in me. I’ll tell you how I got through it and what will help you as well.
In most scenarios during a separation and divorce you’ll be splitting your children with your ex. This is by far the most difficult thing to adjust to when going through a split. The truth is it never goes away. It is entirely unnatural for your kids to be gone from you for any time, but they do need both their parents.
I spent my spare time working a lot and at that time I worked at a bar. It wasn’t ideal, but it was the only job that was flexible with my availability and I could make any reasonable amount of money at. With no child care on my days with the exception of my brother who was also a single parent it was challenging.
When I did have spare time it was depressing and it was easy to fill that void with negative things. Late nights I played video games. I also had become obsessed with Game of Thrones and was ingesting the entire novel series, but those were distractions and I needed something pro-active.
I was beyond broke, but there was a Planet Fitness literally across the street and the membership was only $10 a month. I was serious about the half-marathon and knew I’d have to work for it. So I started going before work shifts, after work shifts and in the morning. Whenever I had a free moment and the dragons weren’t with me I was on the treadmill at the gym. It was a distraction sure, but it was a healthy one.
- Availability – You DO have to fully commit. It’s easy to say there isn’t time. You will have to adjust to not always having the same schedule every week and jump on the opportunity when it’s available. That’s probably hard for most people, but if you keep with that mentality you will be successful.
- Cost – Other than a good pair of running shoes you really don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can find gear relatively cheap on Amazon or on clearance at Dicks. Even Walmart, Target and other super stores have reasonably priced clothing.
- Tracking – This goes along with cost, but there are a TON of free apps via phone you can use to monitor your runs, calories, heart rate and manage your overall health. I use Runtracker, but other great apps are MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, and SamsungHealth.
- Accountability – If you don’t have that motivation yourself there are tons of running groups and accountability groups that will give you that extra push and support you need. These also are free. Feel free to join mine “Accountability With Heather”. I’m there to support anything you are going through.
Honor The Journey
I started this running journey nearly 9 years ago and I still don’t have everything perfect. The hardest part of doing this is making the commitment to yourself to do it. I say it again and again, but you can’t make excuses for yourself. If you set your mind to it, anything is possible. If you are on a health journey, running is great physical activity, flexible and doesn’t have to be expensive.
But I didn’t just start this for me. Look at all the pictures I shared. I did this for them. Indirectly sure, but running gave me focus, it gave me confidence, strength and belief in myself. Because of this I’m a better mother to them and that’s what they deserve. I keep running now for all of those reasons plus more.