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A Love Letter To You, My Running Sister

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I am surrounded by beautiful women. Some I know in real life and some only through social media. Some are runners and some are not. But all of them are going through one or other of Life’s various phases. Some phases are easier and some are really tough. Some pass quickly, while others remain for a lifetime.

As runners, we know the value of being active while going through a tough time. And sometimes, the toughest part is actually to learn to survive without running. But running or no running, we are all women. We are all sisters. And we are all dealing with something at any given moment. The sad thing is, however, that with our busy schedules we don’t get to spend enough time with our sisters to really get to know what is going on below. Social media and short personal exchanges make it seem that everyone is passing life’s tests with flying colors. While the truth is that everyone struggles at some point or another. It is just getting harder and harder to admit it.

So to you, my beautiful sisters, all of you, I am writing this letter. I want you to know that you are loved.

My Dear Barren Running Sister,

I know your secret. I know how much your heart longs for that little one. The desire, so basic yet intrinsic, is consuming your entire being, the longer all the more. Yet, for fear of reprimand, pity or unsolicited advice, you choose to carry the burden alone, in silence.

We see you pounding it out on the road. For you, running is a double-edged sword. It helps to take your mind off the constant pain of longing, but you also run to punish your body for failing you. For not doing the job it was designed to do. Where you lack control over what happens in your womb, your mind has the upper hand when it comes to pushing your body in physical exertion. And for a brief moment in physical pain, the emotional pain is numbed.

My dear Sister, I want to tell you that you are not alone. Your pain is real. Your desires are valid. You don’t have to “just get over it”, and at the very least, you shouldn’t have to carry your burden in silence for the comfort of others. 

My dear Sister, you are not alone. Please reach out.    

My Dear Pregnant Running Sister,

Your beautiful baby-bump pictures on social media have all of us gushing. They are absolutely adorable. And yes, we are in awe that you are so incredibly motivated to keep up the running while also growing that little miracle inside your body. But, as your loving running sister, I want to ask you to take it easy. Please cherish the time with your tiny little one tucked inside. None of us will think you are lazy or getting fat if you don’t keep up the training, we promise. Even if you gained all the weight, we would still gush and support and love you.

So put your feet up and read that book. This is your time to rest while your body does all the hard work! Your pregnancy is a time to enjoy, not one through which you have to prove your strength by ignoring the fact that it is hard work to grow another human being. And the moment you hold that precious little person first you will know that it was all worth it.

My dear Sister, you are powerful. And we admire you!

My Dear New-Mom Running Sister,

Did you take the advice on taking a breather when you were pregnant? Well, those in the know will tell you that the fourth-trimester theory applies to the new mom as well. Nobody expects you to get back into running when your little one is three weeks old, nor even three months. New Mom, we know you may be struggling. We know that you may be taking strain in the absence of routine,  and the lack of sleep may be getting you. Also, the realization that you represent the entire universe to a tiny little person may be overwhelming. You are fed up with your pregnancy pants which you thought would be long tugged away by now. We know you want to get out and start running as soon as possible to just feel human again, and maybe look the part.

But my Dear, this too shall pass. We promise. You will get your beautiful pre-pregnancy body back in no time, and running is patiently waiting for you to get back in it. But be careful not to blink too fast while your little one is still so tiny. For it is true that they grow up so fast. Take your time to breathe in and soak up every single moment of this precious period. Everything else can wait. You are incredible in the way you nurture your family. We admire you, even with your unwashed hair and flabby waist. And you should know that to your little one there has never been another human more beautiful.

My dear Sister, you are beautiful. Cherish this precious time, it goes by so quickly.

My Dear Running Sister With Kids and a Job,

We know you are tired. That you can’t imagine a time when you weren’t tired. We know you devote your entire day to care for those around you and to keep up with deadlines. That every single moment of your day is spoken for, and none of it actually for taking care of yourself. We know you have been meaning to get back into running for years now, but that you can’t seem to find the time. You feed yourself quick snacks on-the-go or by cleaning the last slices of pizza off your kiddos’ plates. Because you think the time it would take to sit down for lunch could better have been spent folding the laundry or prepping tonight’s dinner.

When you had coffee with the other moms at your kids’ mutual gymnastics class last week we saw you sigh when someone mentioned running. You wondered where she finds the energy or time to exercise. Surely you must be doing everything wrong, you thought. With more feelings of unworthiness, you went home and had a few of little Margaret’s cupcakes that were intended for school the next day.

My Dear Sister, please know, believe and remember that you are doing your best. You are doing enough. You are enough.

My Dear Sisters, 

I speak for all of us when I say I am sorry for not acknowledging your struggle in a more appropriate way, and if I perhaps, unwittingly, added some shame or guilt to your already overfilled plate. Running, for some, is also a way of coping with life’s phases, just like writing or crafting is for others. Just because you see a sister running doesn’t mean she’s got it all together. Many times this is in fact far from the truth. But please know that we, your sisters, have your back. Running or no running, you are a friend. You are a sister. And sisters don’t judge. They support and encourage. And they are here to tell you that:

You are enough. You are worthy. You are beautiful. You are powerful. You matter. You are precious. You belong.

And whether you decide to go for that run, to put your feet up, go on that holiday, enter that race, stay in bed or stare at a blank wall for a solid week, always know that we, your Sister-Congregation, will be slow clapping, ululating, the entire time.

With all my love,

Your Running Sister

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