Daily Chatter

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I give you permission

Recently I had the opportunity to be part of a study aimed at finding out why women do Ultras and the challenges them face. 
 I have Barefoot Angie Bee to thank for being able to take part in the study. 
The interview lasted about an hour.  I was asked a bit about myself and how I got into running.  To be honest I felt a bit like who was I to be giving my two cents until the interviewer asked me how many ultras I have done in the past two years and I said about 10.  When she responded with "Wow!" I realized I was doing it again.  I was doing what many people do.  I was down playing what I have accomplished because I keep comparing it to what others have done. 
Our conversation continued and I hope that what I was able to offer through my experiences will help in some way.  But as many conversations hindsight is always slightly more clear.  Her final question was,
If I could say something to encourage a woman who was contemplating running her first ultra, what would I say?
Although I had talked about this challenge earlier in my interview, I wish I had answered that final question more simply with this:
I give you permission.

Why would I need to given anyone other than my own children permission to do anything?  Well, I shouldn't but that's often the problem.  Many women feel that they don't have permission to use the time in their days for themselves.  Women feel that family comes first

  Family First Subway Art  Large Wall Hanging Wood Sign
People paint it on signs and hang it in their homes.
Not that family is anything other than a top priority but women often forget that we need feed our own needs to be able to meet the needs of those we love.

I no longer feel guilty about taking a few weekends a year to enjoy races and I don't feel guilty about the time I spend running to be prepared for those races.  Having given that small percentage of my day to myself, I know that I am made a better person for everyone in my life.

I gave myself permission.
And in doing so I gave my family a much better version of me.

What finally made you give yourself permission?
What would you say to someone who is just starting out and feeling guilty?
Considering an Ultra?  What do you feel is your biggest hurtle?  How can I help you overcome it?


  1. Interesting, I thought you were going another way when I first read your advice. Sometimes when I'm at the start line, I feel like I don't belong there, like I'm an imposter, and I read it as "I give you permission, you have as much right to be here as anyone else". I love your take on it as well though! I think, not having children, it's so much easier, but your attitude is exactly what I want to copy when I do! I'm sure your children are lucky to have such a wonderful mother who takes wonderful care of both herself and them.

  2. I waited till my kids were all bar one out of high school to start getting a life of my own. And I wish I'd started earlier. I felt it was my role to be there for them all the time but I was denying them the ability to be independent and to problem solve on their own.

  3. Another beautiful thing about running is that it unlearns you all the not so great ideas that society teaches women, and men too.

  4. It took me until my last one was in preschool to give myself permission. I was not working outside of the home anymore and I felt like this was my job ALL OF THE TIME. Finally, over the holidays 2 years ago I had a revelation that the only way I was going to be a good mom is if I took time for myself. I gave myself PERMISSION. I like you don't feel guilty taking race weekends. I never miss their stuff and my running/racing makes me a better wife/mother/friend. Great post Shelly!

  5. First, what a cool survey. Is this someone's thesis project? Second, I love what you have to say here. You are SO right! I too have learned that we should not feel guilty for pursuing that which we love. Family does come first, but there's room for our passions as well.

  6. Isn't it a crazy lesson. I wish that I could "embrace" giving myself permission, but it seems to be a constant conversation in my head on some days. Oh well.....I love that mantra, and plan on using it the next time I feel guilty.

  7. Thanks for another great post.
    Please keep us informed about the "results" of the study, it would make an interesting read.

  8. I love this post. It's so true that it's hard to give yourself permission. I'm not going to lie, I often wonder if I'd be a better mother if I ran less (like running fewer miles would make me crafty or something), but I think running makes me a better mom.

  9. I have friends and even family who do not give themselves permission to take this time for themselves, whether it's distance running or anything else for their health. It pains me because it is so important and I believe it could really enrich all aspects of their lives if they would just give themselves permission. Well said!