I had a long conversation with a coworker the other day about how people choose to spend their money. Is a latte frivolous? Maybe, if you need that money for something else.
The next day, I was running with a friend and she made a passing comment about having poor time management – her Christmas tree was still up, and it’s February.
She probably could have taken the morning off running and taken her tree down, just like I could have stayed home and folded the neverending laundry I have or sorted through a pile of mail to pay bills.
But instead both of us – and a few others – found ourselves meeting on the north side of town just after sunrise to log a few hours of running out in the country on the gravel.
It’s one way to spend a weekend morning.
We followed it with coffee and breakfast downtown, and then went our separate ways.
I hung out with the family. Did some laundry. Laid on the couch for a while. A fairly normal low-key winter Sunday afternoon. And I did what I always do – spend some time thinking about what my week looks like, where I can fit in time at the gym, where the weather will hold to run outside, when I’ll have to hit the treadmill at 9 p.m. on a weekday just to fit something in.
Just like anything, you have to find the time to exercise. You have to make it a priority and make sure the people you love understand that. In our house, we do our best to model the behavior and encourage it.
Is it distracting when my 8-year-old wants to do a strength workout with me? A little. But it’s also hilarious when she decides the weights are too heavy, so she lifts her earmuffs like a kettlebell instead.
And on a recent night when my son was sick, Patrick cleaned up a bed full of unpleasantness to allow me to run another mile on the treadmill, blissfully unaware, for a few more minutes, that things weren’t, after all, improving.
I thought about all these things on Sunday, as we ran out on Ditch Road. In two hours, we saw two cars and one very mean German Shepherd (fair warning – about a mile north of the well).
We could have all been doing something else.
We talked about the struggles of continuing to train while time marches on. I lamented how heavy I feel lately – this winter hasn’t been good to my waistline. Natalie talked about how maybe this is the last year she has it in her to continue to run 100-mile races. Sharleen talked about finding the time to train. Karen joked about having to go home and make breakfast for the kids after we were done.
There’s always something else to do – and for many of us, there’s nobody else to do it. To pick the kids up. Take them to practice. Load the dishwasher. Earn the paycheck. Get the oil changed. Every day is a list of tasks that need constant prioritizing.
It can be exhausting.
But here’s the thing: I needed that.
I needed those women and I needed that run, and I needed to turn out of the horrible north wind and have a negative split back. I needed to sit in a coffee shop with my winter hat on and laugh and talk about kids and makeup and nothing at all for a while.
It’s really easy for me – and maybe for you, too – to isolate myself. To run alone. To read all the time. To say no to lunches out with my coworkers, to not answer my phone, to feel like an outsider when I do go to things. Sometimes people are surprised when I say that – thinking I’m much more outgoing than I am. It’s true, in some ways. But it’s also true that too much of it makes me feel like I need to shut down for a while.
I’ve been watching this in myself lately, and trying to make changes. I’ve been talking to the person next to me at the gym. Trying to make myself go to cocktail hours or new classes or saying ‘yes’ when someone asks me to do something – like lead another book group.
And when friends ask me to go for a run, and then invite other folks I don’t know, I’ve been forcing myself to show up anyway, remember that most people are pretty friendly and that if I feel dorky, it’s OK to just be quiet and let them carry the conversation.
So maybe you’ll see me at 605 Running Co. on an upcoming Wednesday or Saturday – trying to make time to brave the cold – or at the Sioux Falls Area Running Club social at The Cookie Jar at 4 p.m. on Sunday, or at yoga with Jeri Light. And if not me, you’ll see 605 Ambassador Deb Shissler, or yoga teacher Jeri or any of the other regulars.
And here’s the thing: Come say hi. Let’s talk about where you work or what you’re reading or if you think peanut butter Cap’n Crunch is the best cereal ever (it is).
If you feel like you need a friend, someone to stand next to just for some solidarity because maybe you feel weird that day or need motivation or just need to know you’re not alone, then any one of us would be there for you.
Let’s be there for each other.
Sometimes I need it, and maybe you do, too.
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Story ideas are encouraged.