Running is Cheaper Than Therapy: Runner’s Guilt

It’s happened to all of us.  That dreaded moment when your boss asks you if you could stay a little late, or in my case, a student asks if you are available after school.  You get that disappointed feeling in the pit of your stomach as the reality sets it. It is at that exact moment that you realize won’t be getting your run in today. And in comes the guilt.

It’s called runner’s guilt. And it happens to all of us from time to time. For me, it happens almost daily. I feel guilty when I run. I feel guilty when I don’t run.  I feel guilty all the freakin time.  And running is to blame.  Getting a run in can completely consume my thoughts some days. And if I haven’t run, that will consume my thoughts too.  That little voice in my head (you remember the one that MADE me run a half marathon) taunts me all the damn time. And it spills over to every aspect of my life. Honestly, that annoying voice does not know when to just shut it.

josie-shoesPicture this. Asleep on a Saturday morning…snug and comfy in my nice warm bed, I roll over and peek at the clock with one eye, as not rouse myself awake too much. I peer at the clock and it reads 6:27 and try to go back to sleep. And there it is.  That dreaded voice scoffs. “Wake up Josie. Time to run!”  I ignore it, and try to go back to sleep. “Perhaps you didn’t hear me? Get up!! Saturday morning is for running, not sleeping!”  I turn over, put the pillow over my head and desperately try again to capture another hour of sweet slumber. “psst…I said get your lazy butt out of bed, drink your coffee, and GO RUN!”  Score: runner’s guilt 1  Josie 0

Oh, how I mourn the loss of lazy weekend mornings!  Sipping coffee slowly (not gulping it in order to rush the bathroom ritual which must take place before any long run…you know what I mean!), reading the paper or catching up on my DVR. Playing with my kids.  Indulging in a big family breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Mmm, how I love bacon!  As I run by the other houses, I’m completely envious of the people inside, still in their jammies, or better yet, still asleep….completely unphased by runners guilt.  Gone are the days I can enjoy such a leisurely morning and not feel guilty about it. In the rare event I do allow myself a weekend morning without a run, the guilt over takes me like a lead blanket and any relaxation I might have enjoyed has vanished.  And if I should spy a runner outside on the road on such a day, it is enough to make me go postal.

Aahhh, but when I do run on the weekends, there is guilt too. My kids begging me to stay home. To make a big family breakfast. To play monopoly.   They ask me not to be gone so long “this time”.  And there it is. Again. The runner’s guilt.  Even when I DO run, I feel guilty. What’s a mom to do? It a battle I’m convinced I shall never win. Score: Runner’s guilt 2  Josie 0

And then there’s runner’s guilt at work. The guilt that comes from choosing not to coach a sports team or chair a committee.  The guilt that comes when I tell a student I am not available today after school. The guilt I feel for choosing my own health. For choosing my run.  I have precisely 1 hour and 32 minutes from the time I get out of work to the time I need to be at the bus stop for my children, and a 27 minute commute home.  I have carefully calculated that if I am to get my run in that day, I must leave work within 18 minutes of quitting time or it just ain’t gonna happen.  On many days, I find myself like a deer in headlights, eyes wide open,  heart beating fast as I am forced to make a split second decision between staying after school for an extracurricular obligation or to get my run in that day.  In an instant, my brain starts calculating how many miles I’ve gotten in that week and peruses my mental schedule to determine how many potential runs I can get in if I commit to said obligation.   By this point it doesn’t matter which one I choose.  I will feel guilty either way. Score: Runner’s guilt 3 Josie 0

And we must not forget the ever popular relaxation runner’s guilt. You know the guilt we feel if we actually allow ourselves some much deserved down time without running to earn it?  I give you vacation. Gone are the days I can vacation without packing my sneakers and IPod. If there is any relaxation to be had, a run had better precede it. Or else. Or else that little voice will pipe in while I attempt to sit leisurely in my beach chair and sip an umbrella drink “Hey Josie…you gonna just sit it there on your butt?” I attempt to sip quicker in hopes of silencing the little voice that somehow snuck its way into my suitcase. “Yo! Josie, you know how many calories are in that yummy cocktail right?…and let’s not forget that buffet you made three trips to last night”.  Frick.   Score: Runners guilt 4 Josie 0

Runner’s guilt finds me almost anywhere. Sitting for two hours while watching my kid’s soccer practice makes me feel guilty. That time could be better spent doing laps around the field.  And you’d better believe if I haven’t run that day, that’s what I’ll be doing.  If I decide to meet the girls after work for drinks, it’s there too.  How dare I choose cocktails over my run! “Josie, you are such a slacker”. I even felt guilty not running when I was injured and ordered by my doc to take 8 weeks off. “You can fight through the pain”.  On the flip side, runner’s guilt is also the reason I have chosen not to pursue the dreaded 26.2 yet.  I’m not quite prepared to deal with the guilt that comes from choosing running over family time. Not yet anyway. But the voice is still there….tempting me. Taunting me.  Telling me I can do it. That I should do it.

Truth is, I know I shall feel guilty either way.  And what’s worse is the only way I know how to deal with the guilt, is to go for a run.

So runner’s guilt, I give up.  You win.

 

About Josie RunnerGirl:
Josie is a mom of two. In between working full time and being a mom, she enjoys running, friends, beer and good food. Usually in that order.She will be contributing to a series of blogs entitled “Running is Cheaper Than Therapy”.

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