Like most working parents, I find it hard to juggle everything that needs to get done. But no matter how much laundry or research I’ve got to do, there is one priority I almost never let slide: Exercise.
Call me a fanatic, but it keeps me sane. I started to run in 1978, when I was in 8th grade. Back then, I was virtually the only one jogging the waterfront streets of my home town in the late afternoons. For my 14th birthday, my parents bought me a yellow and blue striped sweat suit and some cushioned Adidas sneakers to replace the flat-soled Keds that gave me shin splints.
I love to run. I love the endorphins and the feeling of stress relief that comes from pounding the pavement. As a working parent, I prize the peace and quiet and freedom from interruptions that come from putting some distance between myself and my wonderful but demanding children and job. When I let my mind wander during a run, I often find it helps me problem-solve.
Ten years ago, I ran a marathon. These days, I’m happy if I can fit in a 3 mile excursion 3 or 4 times a week. Luckily, that’s not too hard. Running is an ideal sport for working parents. It’s ultimately flexible: Where I live, in New York City, you can even run at 2 a.m.—as long as you stick to well traveled streets. (I have yet to try that.) It’s cheap: All you need is a pair of sneakers and sweats. And because you don’t have to travel to a gym to do it, you can easily fit a run into a busy schedule. If I need to work on a weekend, for example, I’ll run the 2 miles to and from my office. On the two days of the work week when I’m at home with my kids, I’ll run home after dropping them off at school. Last year, when New York City's subway employees went on strike, I ran to and from work.
I’m lucky: Most people don’t enjoy this convenient, cheap, and time-efficient sport. Others find their knees can’t tolerate the constant pounding. But give me a baby jogger for my little guy, bicycles for my two older sons, and a half hour, and I’ll find a way to fit some exercise in. That’s one New Year’s Resolution that shouldn’t be tough to keep.