Emma, a Running Mums Australia Ambassador, is a 35 year old Mum living with her four children (aged 6, 9, 12 & 16) and her partner, in Busselton, on the coast of Western Australia. She works full-time in the Hospitality Industry and is studying part-time towards her Education Degree. This year Emma is training for two big running events, ‘The Ducks Nut’ at the Wild Goose Chase in the Avon Valley National Park in May (A 3-day Event clocking up over 100miles and 6500m of elevation), and her third attempt at the WA 24hr Track Ultra in Bunbury in August (which will be hosting Nationals this year). So far in her 4 years of running Emma has taken part in 7 Half Marathons, 7 Full Marathons and 14 Ultra Marathon running events. Emma has a passion for writing and enjoys sharing her journey of the highs and lows experienced whilst combining motherhood and endurance running.
Every day there is a battle going on in my mind… A battle between all the things that I know need my attention in my life. Study, housework, my kids, my partner, ultra-marathon training, work, finances, sleep… The list is endless. Each day I wake up and the battle begins. What will win today? Will it be the 3 hour long run scheduled, the shower that desperately needs to be scrubbed or the catch-up sleep my body is craving?
I feel like one of those time/life analogies where they put pebbles in a jar and ask if it’s full, then add sand and again ask if it’s full and then finally add water!
Photo Credit: Pinterest
My life reflects that analogy pretty well! My schedule is already full, but every day I try and find ways to squeeze more and more in around those pebbles and sand that are already taking up a large part of my jar! Like many others I wish I had more hours in my day. We all have the same number though, and the only control we have is choosing how we use what we do have… choosing what our priorities are, and using that information to determine where we spend our time.
So… I plan, I plan a lot. But like the saying goes ‘The best-laid plans often go awry’, and mine do – ALL the time! So here’s where the battle comes in! Even though I make my plans (either on paper or mentally) I constantly have that battle of what needs my attention most, of getting that BALANCE right. So maybe it’s not a battle as such. Maybe it’s just constant state of reflection and reassessment to ensure that the balance is there in my life.
So how do I do it? How do I decide what takes priority in my ridiculously busy, time-poor world? That’s where goals come into the picture. Unless you have clear goals in your mind of what you want to achieve it’s very hard to work out where your priorities need to be!
For example; these are my most current set of goals:
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night and look after myself emotionally and with good nutrition/hydration
- Complete my Teaching Degree
- Train consistently towards my two big ultra-running events of the year
- Maintain a healthy, loving relationship with my partner by having at least one ‘date’ a week with him
- Ensure my kids are happy, healthy, loved and are getting to explore the maximum of their own potentials in life
- Contribute (at least once a week!) in some way to the running of the household e.g. cleaning or cooking
- Earn enough money to make sure I can financially support all my other goals!
When you look at your goals written down on paper you realize the complexity of them! The goals above are only my overarching, general goals – each goal then has its own series of sub-goals so to speak. It then becomes clear why you need to constantly assess and reassess your priorities in your mind on a continual basis. Our lives (especially as Mums!) are constantly changing. What is paramount in this moment won’t necessarily be paramount to the next and so the juggling and balancing act begins!
Today I planned to get up early when my partner left for work, get my 3 hour long run done first thing so I could then spend the rest of the day focusing on my study. The reality? The alarm went off and I said ‘No way! Too tired.’ And decided instead that I’d get up at the normal time, drop the kids at school and then run. But guess what, that still didn’t happen! Trying to go back to sleep after the first alarm and my boys got up earlier than usual and started arguing loudly, resulting in me yelling at them from my bed to ‘BE QUIET!!’ meaning I still felt exhausted and not at all loving the thought of that looming long run. So again I changed my plans. I decided to swap my runs around, do a shorter run today and rest while I catch up on my study and some housework, then do my back to back long runs before going to work over the next two days. Is it a good plan? Maybe it is, maybe it’s not – only time will tell, but the important thing is that I learn from it. If my back to back long runs don’t happen over the next two days then I need to look at things and say ‘Emma, Training Runs HAVE to take priority!’ or they simply won’t get done! It’s a constant fight between my body and mind saying ‘I’m exhausted, let me sleep!’ and the other part of me saying ‘Come on Emma, just get it done!’
Real life exhaustion: Struggling to go to work the day after the ADU 100km in January this year
Failure is a given. I fail ALL the time! But here’s the thing… It’s OK to fail! What’s important is that you know how to get back up again! It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, it’s whether or not you pick up, carry on and try again! It makes you STRONGER! By failing, you now know what doesn’t work! You can now change things (and keep changing them) until you find something that does work – there is ALWAYS a way. It may not be the way you like or want but there IS always a way.
Three years worth of change at the same ADU event:
Top Left 2015, Bottom Left 2016, Right 2017
The most important thing in all of this is NOT GIVING UP!! You can and you will get there if you keep trying! It has taken me FOUR YEARS to find some sort of consistency with my running and still I sometimes suck at it! Four years of on-again, off-again running, of saying I was too tired, too busy and too overweight to be consistent. Thankfully I’m stubborn and I kept trying. I did lots of stupid things, learnt from my mistakes (most of the time!) and I kept trying. I’d get tired, lose faith in myself and my ability to do anything successfully, but something would tell me to keep trying. DO NOT give up! It is possible and you will get there! It may not be the way you think it’s going to happen or it may take a lot longer than you think it should take, but if it’s important to you and you continue to keep trying even when it feels completely pointless and hopeless you WILL get there!
Never Give Up! The 1st year I attempted the ADU 100km I DNF’d at 75kms, the 2nd year I was returning from injury so only entered the 50km, this year, the 3rd year not only did I finish the 100kms, I also smashed my 100km PB by 30mins and placed 3rd Female. This pic was me dying afterwards!
And so, walking away from this article now, have a think about your goals and everything you balance in your life. Are things set in stone or are they fluid, changing and evolving with you depending on what’s going on in your day to day life? Do you throw away a goal after failing once, or do you learn from what didn’t work and keep trying? Remember, your goals are yours. We are all different and what works for one person might not work for another. What’s important is that you’re able to look at your life and what works for you!
Celebrate your achievements no matter how insignificant you think they might be to others! We are ALL facing our own battles and recognizing our ‘wins’ is such an important part of climbing those mountains! Be kind to yourself, congratulate yourself on the victories and try not to compare yourself to others. Chances are, people who look to you like they are thriving are actually battling their own wars underneath the surface. Love yourself and others around you as we’re all doing our very best to navigate our way through this journey of life in the best way we possibly can.
Thumbs Up, Be Positive, You Can Do It!