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Last week I welcomed my second child to the world, and as such I’ve been thinking a lot about what my life as a professional ultrarunner is going to look like in the coming months and years.  When my daughter was born in 2021, I was fully aware that there were going to be some changes to how I trained and what that looked like as a father of a newborn.  Now, almost two years later, my wife and I have doubled the familial workload and it has me reflecting on how my running career has changed since I became a father.

Whether we are talking about work obligations, family life, health issues or something else, life presents every single one of us with challenges that change the context of our routine and how we pursue the things we love to do.  I’ve learned over the years that rather than cling to how something used to be, it’s much more productive for me to acknowledge that my life is changing, and then discover how my lifestyle needs to adapt to embrace those changes.  I don’t consider myself an expert on this at all- in fact, I often feel like I fail to make these adaptations as quickly or as seamlessly as I would like.  That said, I have come up with a few rules of thumb that have helped me to cope with change and embrace a new outlook on my running career as it has transformed with the changes in my life:

  1. Dive into your gratitude for the things you love to do! When my daughter was born, immediately my obligations changed and I had a more rigid schedule with less time for training.  However, over time I came to realize that this cultivated a greater love for running and training!  Before becoming a parent, I could run and train at all hours of the day.  After becoming a parent, I had to be very intentional about when I would run and how that impacted my family.  My mentality shifted from “I can do this whenever I want” to “I get to do this now!”  That was a total mental game-changer.
  2. Use a new circumstance to shift focus. When your schedule becomes too busy or it seems like you no longer have as much time for something you love to do, it might be time to take stock of what other things bring you joy and haven’t been a regular part of your life.  For me, I’ve always loved cross-training and strength training as a supplement to my running, but those things often take a back seat when I’m in a peak running block.  So, when a new baby led me to spend more time at home rather than out on the trails, it was a perfect chance to dig into those areas that I wouldn’t have prioritized otherwise.  Rather than seeing something as a loss in one area, look at where you might be able to improve and gain in another area.
  3. Embrace the changes in seasons. New seasons of life bring about new opportunities, and in my case, becoming a father created an opportunity for me to embrace the off-season.  In 2021, I ran the Leadville 100 about a month before my daughter was born.  In a typical year prior to that, I would have run the race and then resumed my training a handful of weeks afterwards.  Since my life was changing in a dramatic way, instead of jumping right back into training, I used the opportunity to take a much-needed break that I never would have taken otherwise.  I continued to run, but I ran in an unstructured way that was prompted by the changes my family was experiencing.  My tendency might have been to lament the fact that I wasn’t getting out to run as much at first, but instead, I recognized that I was able to embrace that change and turn it into a positive.

Life is always going to through us curveballs, and perhaps the philosopher Heraclitus was right when he said, “the only constant in life is change.” But what Heraclitus didn’t go on to say is that the changes we experience are largely shaped by how we perceive them and the actions we take to follow those perceptions.  If you use your actions to see opportunities instead of losses, your life will forever be changed for the better!