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How Does Running Reflect A Mom’s Personality?

March 2, 2010

I’ve often thought about how a person’s sport choices reflect their personality. It’s not an original line of thinking—many studies have been done on the topic. Knowing myself, I realize I steer clear of sports like cyclocross or ice climbing because I’m not a thrill-seeker or a risk-taker. (What can I say: My dad raised me to be the world’s largest chicken!)

This weekend, running highlighted traits and quirks in myself and my good pal Molly, the mom of three with whom we carpool to elementary school. On the docket for me was a 16-miler that needed to include hills and have the last six miles be at 8:45- to 9:00-minutes per mile as prep for my upcoming marathon. I live on the flat side of Portland, so I needed to plot my route thoughtfully to ensure it had enough ascents. A kind pal gave me a highlighted map showing the way to an extinct volcano called Mt. Tabor. In my mind, Mt. Tabor is light years from our house, yet a few minutes on mapmyrun.com told me it was just four miles away. So I schemed and plotted a run that took me to Tabor via the other big eastside geographic zit—Rocky Butte. I was so excited about my new route, I couldn’t stop thinking about it on Friday afternoon and evening—the anticipation was almost too much for me. By 8 a.m. Saturday, I was raring to go.

Molly, on the other hand, was headed to the Oregon coast, where she planned to run eight miles as half-marathon prep. She called on Friday afternoon, full of angst and worry. She rattled off a litany of concerns, such as getting lost, running into dead ends, tweaking a muscle running in the sand, getting knocked down by a sneaker wave (had to laugh at that one—runner, sneaker wave–ha, ha), getting kidnapped, or being swept out to sea by a tsunami. Other than the latter, which became a legitimate, albeit random, threat after the devastating Chilean earthquake, it seemed Molly was being a worry-wort. How do you think your approach to running reflects your personality?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2010 10:26 am

    I love your post, Sarah. First, let me just vent some feelings – I’m so envious of the hills you have access to!!!!! Let’s see – I have parking garages & football stadiums…hmm, what to do, what to do??? I seriously wonder how a southern runner gets any hills in? Okay, the treadmill? Yes, I know, been there, done that. I’m just such an outdoors person. I’ll survive…oh, and the word “sneaker” gets me to – always has – I feel like I’m a Brady when I hear that word – “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” heehee

    Anywho, I’m definitely one to think of all the wonderful what-ifs…running has definitely increased my confidence in everything. Come on, if we can pound out a 20-mile training run, jump in an ice-bath, shower, eat AND be on time to pick up kids at school, soccer practice, cook, oh, and homework…surely we can do just about anything, right?

    The only thing that ever enters my mind, and it’s a very legitimate concern down here, thank you very much, is the dog factor. My golf-course neighborhood is pristine & fabulous and everyone obeys leash laws, but leave my hood? Sometimes. Those runs are planned ahead of time. Get this – I was at a traffic light a couple of weeks ago, looked over into the next lane – there’s a pick up truck with a black pitbull, unleashed, with a PIERCED EAR. Yes, you read correctly – the DOG (devil-dog in my book – eeewww), had an EARRING – big, silver stud. Just imagine the internal conversation the dog’s owner had in reaching the conclusion that this was a good idea. So, yeah, we don’t have tons of law-abiding dog owners on some of the more desolate streets in my neck of the woods. So, sometimes, I opt for a little of the mundane and just stay where I’m comfortable…but I’m always happy about it! 🙂

    • SBS permalink*
      March 2, 2010 10:53 pm

      Stop it: a pit bull with a PIERCED EAR!? Unleashed dogs are right up there on my list of, dare I type it, PET peeves. Sounds like yours are more threatening (and style conscious!) than ones I encounter, though.

      And Mary B., a mom we quote in the book, was the first Southern runner who told me her only outdoor hill option was parking garages. I thought she was joking until she convinced me she wasn’t. That stuns me. I grew up in Connecticut where it’s nearly impossible to find a stretch of road more than a quarter-mile long that doesn’t have a big ol’ glacier-carved hill in it!

  2. March 2, 2010 1:02 pm

    That sounds like an awesome run–was it beautiful? I always love trying out new routes/terrain.

    In answer to your question, I think running reflects my “creature of habit” tendencies. I love routine, to a fault, and having a hobby like running fits in quite nicely, thank you very much. I love the pattern of a long run on the weekends, speedwork on Tuesdays, and shorter runs in between. I do try to shake it up a bit each week, however, b/c as much as I love routines, it’s good to keep variety in your running.

    • SBS permalink*
      March 2, 2010 10:55 pm

      Sometimes I’m a total creature of habit and LOVE the predictability of Tuesday track workouts and Thursday tempos…but ocassionally that feels like a straight jacket to me and I have to bust out a different workout. But for marathon training–and mothering young kids–I think acceptance of a routine is always a winning trait.

  3. March 2, 2010 1:05 pm

    What a great question! I would sometimes describe my personality as tormented. Not that I torment people (though please don’t check with my hubby on that point), but that I tend to torment myself. If I have an idea, I mostly think, “Darn it, I thought it up, now I’m going to have to try and do it because, what if I don’t?” Now the tormenting part… I then proceed to freak out, come up with reasons to back out, whine and fret and otherwise try to sabotage my plan. Enter running. In my 38th year of life, in the middle of a sleepless night, I decide to run a marathon by the time I’m 40. Dammit, I thought it, now I have to do it. [ insert self-tormenting here] But, alas I did it!! Then I run more marathons. I love running, but of course, it torments me; how can I get faster, stronger, better at it?

    JUST last night at 1:38am, I’m thinking about the discussions my running partner and I have been having about running an ultra. Do I sign up for the Siskyou Outback 50K in July? Doh! I thunk it…. don’t tell anyone, but I will probably register today.

  4. SBS permalink*
    March 2, 2010 10:57 pm

    You are killing me with your, “I thunk it, now I have to do it!!” I think there’s a bit of the daredevil in you, too! GOOD LUCK with the 50K–and the training for it, more importantly.

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