They just don’t understand

My parents, that is. I know I talk all the time about how excited I am to go home and how much I love my mom and how we all get along so well… but life’s not always smiles and laughter.

I’ve said before that I got my start at a young age in running with girls on the run. My parents were both runners and signed me up, although they weren’t nearly as fast as I’ve become. At that age, I didn’t know any better. The running bug didn’t really hit me until junior year in high school when I joined xc on a whim to improve my swimming times. Before that, I had the endurance to run significant distances but I didn’t have the drive. Since then, my parents have stopped running due to knee injuries, back injuries, etc. They are still very active but running is no longer on the agenda.

When I go out and run 40-50 miles a week my parents criticize me. When I come home on vacations they try to convince me to go for 3-mile walks with them instead of going out for a 6-10 mile run. Sorry, but it’s not the same thing at all. I get so frustrated because I’m not running to “lose weight” or maintain compulsive exercise tendencies; I’m doing it because I love it. They don’t get that. But they should, since they did the same thing.

Yesterday when we came home from waterville, I went for a 3 mile walk with my mom. I had already run up a mountain and back (only about 6 miles) that morning, and was planning on going to zumba in the afternoon. While we were walking, she said “I thought you were going to take off running for 2 months after xc ended”. I never said I was going to take two months off. I said I had 2 months off of training to rest up for track, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop exercising. It means I can go out for a short run or a long run, depending on how I feel, and I won’t be doing intense speed workouts and races every weekend.

She proceeded to explain to me that I am going to ruin my body if I didn’t start cross training a lot more and run shorter distances and less often. She “knows it” and doesn’t know anyone that started running at such a “young” age who is still able to run. She’s convinced that I’m going to become injured to the point that I’m unable to run really early if I don’t cut way back now. I tried to explain that it’s different for me since I’m under close watch by my coach and that I’m following a very strict training plan. Not to mention that I’m not her and my body is different than hers.

It ruined the entire mood for the walk and it’s something that comes up every time I go home for a vacation, which really bothers me. I am careful in my training. I don’t overtrain. I make sure to stretch, I don’t do anything if it hurts me, and I have a coach that is extremely cautious. He never pushes us if there is a slight chance of us being injured.

I don’t know if any of you have ever experienced this, but for me it’s dejavu from when I was in the heart of my ED and my parents cut me off all exercise. I was miserable. I love working out. It’s a release for me. So to have parents who have been in my place before and still not support me, that’s really hard. I’m going to cut way back on my running, but I’m going to do it when I first get home for Christmas and I can go to the gym and do yoga, zumba, pilates, go skiing, walking, etc. It’s going to take time for me to adjust and this week I’m already cutting back to 35 miles.

I know that my parents only want what’s best for me and they’re worrying about me overdoing it. They want me to be able to run until I’m 80 if that’s what I want to do, but sometimes I wish they would pretend to understand where I’m coming from, and see what I’m saying. I really believe I’m doing the right thing for my body, and to have the people I care about most in the world doubt me is one of the hardest parts about coming home.

This is clearly a major vent session, so sorry if it’s boring to read. It’s just something that’s been on my mind for a long time.

Have you ever been criticized for over-exercising?

Are your families supportive of your workout habits?

About pickyrunner

I'm Sarah, a (mostly) health-crazed 20-year old New Englander living in Baltimore. Taste buds of a 4-year old, joints of a 90 year old, brain of a chemist, appetite of a teenage boy, legs of a runner. Mindset of a Champion. Follow @pickyrunner
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31 Responses to They just don’t understand

  1. Vent it all, my lady. I’m here to say “Thank flippin’ goodness I’m not alone”!! So let’s just start with the picture that said “I never thought a sport could change my outlook on life …” — that’s it for me. My Mom is still convinced that I’m stuck in the old outlook and that running perpetuates that. And when running gets brought up, she inevitably falls back into her old policing ways, which I know she only does when she’s afraid. But she doesn’t undertsandd that I’m healthier on days when I run than on days when I don’t — both mentally and physically healthier.
    While I think that your relationship with your Mom is different because she ran (mine is the exact opposite of active, though she is walking ~4 miles a week now) and I can’t directly relate to the circumstance, I think that she’s scared. She sounds hurt by the experience of running and also hurt by the experience of your illness, and I think that might be causing a lot of anxious feelings around it all and it’s translating onto you, the object of her fear projections.
    I think you need to hold onto two things (1) she loves you and she’s concerned, and (2) you’re doing everything you can to maintain your love of running in a happy and healthy way. What I would do in your position would be not to counter her arguments against running and heavy training, but to meet them. Tell her that you realize that she’s concerned, and realize that her fears may have some valid foundations, but that you love running with all your heart and you’re taking care of yourself. Let her know that if she should ever notice that you’re slipping or losing health or love of the sport, that that should be when she should become concerned, but not until then.
    I know that aspects of your Uncle’s tragedy probably play into it too … I’m not sure how I would approach that circumstance though.
    The end point is that she loves you.❤

    • pickyrunner says:

      Thanks for sharing all of this! It’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one. It’s definitely extremely frustrating, as if they don’t trust us to make a decision that’s healthy for ourselves. I wish they would realize that I’m just doing something I love. And I will take rest days when I need them. I try my hardest to show them that I’m eating when I go home and that I eat enough to fuel those 10 milers but I’m not sure they’ll ever fully believe that I’m running because its my passion, not because its exercise. At Least I have so many lovely people in the blog world who understand where I’m coming from to share my frustrations with. Together, we will get through it! Xoxoxox

  2. I’m so sorry your mom (mum) hehe that’s how we spell it btw… doesn’t get it! I know for me running is such a big outlet and without it I get depressed as it’s what has helped get me through some really crappy times, especially when I lost my mum, running was there for me and I wouldn’t stop and when I got injured I felt like someone was trying to take the very thing that was helping me through things. Anyhow, just wanted to let you know I get it. Your mum obviously is only saying it as she cares for you and that’s what she thinks is best in her own opinion, I know I have had the same problems with my dad, even though what he thinks is right isn’t always the way and now i have learnt to listen to what he says, take it in, and do what I want to do anyway. Wow another ramble. Hope your wkend gets better!🙂

    • pickyrunner says:

      Thank you for telling me all of this! Running is an outlet that works for everyone, I really believe that, regardless of the situation. For me, it brought me happiness when I was pretty miserable with swimming, or my town at home. Without it, I too get really depressed. This week I’m going to make a strong effort to cut my mileage almost completely and try cross training like walking and biking, but it is going to be really hard. I know our parents love us and want what’s best for us but sometimes they don’t know what’s best. Together we can get through it! Thanks❤

      • Just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone with that feeling hehe… I am also having to x train, still having some issues from back injury, even though it sucks, I know I will be running more soon… trying to keep positive, only thing I can do!🙂 And yes you are right, I love it on here, it’s like I have another family whoooa… oh gosh Im sad hehe… Hope you have an awesome week!🙂 x

      • pickyrunner says:

        Cross training is the worst but it makes us stronger both mentally and physically! We will get there! You’re definitely staying positive and it’s pretty motivating🙂

  3. Caitlin says:

    Hey lovely. You took the words right out of my mouth where running is concerned for my parents. They love me and support me and want me to follow my dreams to my heart’s content…but where running is concerned, they still have some trouble, thinking that I do it so much because of ED behaviors and that I’m going to hurt myself. And I don’t run nearly the mileage right now that you do! I think what it comes down to is that they just love us and don’t want us to get back to that dark place again. For them, a good amount of exercise=extreme=ED, and they’ll do whatever they can to make sure we don’t go back. It sucks and is annoying and I wish both our families would trust us a little more…but I try to think of it like that, and it usually makes me feel a little less frustrated…not always, but often.❤

    • pickyrunner says:

      I think it’s something a lot of us struggle with. The people who love us the most are scared that we’ll slip back into those bad habits, but I too wish our parents trusted us. I’m 20 years old, I’m old enough to make my own decisions. Not running is going to push me back towards my ED more than running will, and that’s what’s so hard about it. I try to listen to them to some extent and see where they’re coming from, but I wish they would do the same for me. Thanks for sharing your story, girl! xoxo

  4. Megan says:

    Yuck I’m sorry. It sucks when parents think they are doing what is right but really are just over stepping. I have adopted the Paleo lifestyle because I feel better when I don’t eat grains and dairy. We went out to lunch yesterday and I got a burger, no bun, no cheese, and swapped out fries for a salad and my dad shakes his head and goes to the waiter “paleo diet” I reamed him out because I’m not on a “diet” I’m not trying to lose weight. I eat what makes me feel healthy and strong. Same with your running!! If you love it and it makes you feel good just do it.

    • Megan says:

      One more thing – I can’t rant about this on my page because my parents read it sometimes. My dad decided to throw around his 2 cents AGAIN today about my eating habit and said the amount of meat I eat makes him want to be a vegetarian… I ate a 2 egg with some egg beaters omelet with sausage and some veggies for breakfast… I have just watched him finish a bagel, half a muffin, and is now eating pretzel. SERIOUSLY DAD.

      • pickyrunner says:

        Yep, prime example! My parents don’t like me going out for a run more than 5 miles, yet my dad will go for a 150 mile bike ride for a charity ride one weekend after walking for an hour every day and not riding more than 30 miles at once! And they say WE’RE the ones who don’t know what we’re doing? Ridiculous.

    • pickyrunner says:

      I think although your situation revolves around food and mine exercise, we’re in a pretty similar boat. I just wish they would trust us and realize we’re doing it for ourselves! At this point we’re old enough to have an idea of what’s best and when they criticize me, I just want to prove them wrong and run further and more. I’m extremely careful about my exercise and I know I fuel myself properly. I’m sure it’s the same for you and your paleo lifestyle. Ugh, it’s not fun but at least we all have each other to get through it and find the support we’re looking for🙂

  5. LifeByLexis says:

    I’m not criticized for exercising too much but believe me I know the feeling. They think they know what you want.. So frustrating. Just keep doing you girl!!

  6. Okay, this is really freaky. When I read your post title this morning, I knew EXACTLY what this post was about. Although my parents haven’t given me a hard time in a while, I know exactly how you feel. Since my dad is the runner in the family, he’s always giving me advice on how to train/how many rest days/etc. I always disagreed with him, because running is my way to relax. I know when I should stop, when I’m hurting, and whatnot. I think it was difficult for him to understand that what worked for him won’t necessarily work for me. I’ll admit, I’ve been running A LOT since my half marathons, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope it gets better!

    • pickyrunner says:

      It’s like we’re the same person! Haha I guess they think they know what’s best since they feel like they’ve been in our situation before but really every person is different. The worst part is that I’m more of a ‘runner’ than either of my parents were! Thanks for the support, hope you’re loving your time at home❤

  7. withlovedeidrelee says:

    I’ve been there too! It’s hard when others criticize you for love of running. The way I look at it, I could be addicted to drugs, or something terrible, and if my biggest issue is my addiction to something that’s really healthy and good for me, than they should be thankful! I understand there is another side to running, that people get hurt and that problems can arise if you aren’t careful, but as long as you are listening to your body and being careful, I say run to your hearts desire!

    I think a lot of people just don’t understand long-distance running. You know they mean well, but at the end of the day it’s your body and your life. You know what you are doing! Keep after it girl!

    • pickyrunner says:

      it sounds like a lot of us have been in this situation at one point or another. It’s really hard to feel like the people we love most don’t trust us enough to do what’s best for ourselves. I agree that my addiction could be much worse than a passion for exercise. Thanks for sharing your two cents🙂

  8. I know where you are coming from. My husband, mom, and grandmother think that I exercise too much. But when I do not have that release, I have too much time on my hands to dwell and be left with the emotions I cannot handle.

    • pickyrunner says:

      It’s really hard but knowing I’m not the only one going through it makes it a lot easier…knowing I’m not alone in this feeling is really nice, although I wish none of us had to. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Amy Lauren says:

    *hugs* I can kinda relate to this although I don’t run nearly as many miles as you. Last year, I ran a race called the Hot Dam 5K (it was at a dam), in the middle of the summer. I live in SC so it’s hot, obviously, and it was above 100 degrees and humid. It was just for fun, definitely no PR or anything, and I had lost weight for my wedding… well, I dunno what happened but I ended up having an “intervention” of sorts at work. The worst thing was that one lady, the one who didn’t understand obviously, kept trying to give me candy and junk food and buy me a soda (I started crying in the office. My boss’s boss kept telling her runners don’t really drink soda, lol). I’m not sure if someone was actually concerned (at this point I was doing pretty well with food issues, honestly) or if it was caused by this girl I was having a riff with at work, but for the longest time I didn’t feel comfortable ever discussing any sort of physical activity with my coworkers! It also got to where I didn’t want to talk to them about anything food related either. And I didn’t let this happen but to be honest, something like this could’ve actually made my issues worse if I’d let it.

    I do think your parents care about you… a lot of people don’t understand the type of training that a college athlete does or the training someone does for a half marathon or even a 5K. Plus they are your parents and are kinda worry prone anyway. Another thing I try to tell myself is that a lot of my IRL friends really do not care so much about my running and I just try to talk more about other things with them unless it’s runner friends… not that I avoid the subject, but just not go on and on about it- which is hard bc you know we all love it so much anyway🙂

    • pickyrunner says:

      Thank you for sharing this with me. I remember my first ‘intervention’ too. It was one of the most humiliating experiences I’ve ever been through. This is just frustrating because I know my parents are thinking about those days

  10. Brittany says:

    I can’t say I can relate because I don’t run 50+ miles a week, and my family tends to stay out of it. I do know what it’s like to enjoy something and have people criticize though because they don’t understand. As long as you know what you are doing, and it works for you..then keep doing it. You can’t make everyone happy, it’s you have to just focus on making yourself happy!

    • pickyrunner says:

      Thanks girl! It’s definitely hard but eventually they’ll come around. My hope is that one day they’ll understand and trust that I’m not being too harsh on my body.

  11. I have been ringed out the ho ha (WTF does that even mean) for running close to 100m weeks. Needless to say, it didn’t come from my parents (I’m very lucky they are supportive) but more from others in general who know exactly what is right for me…because I don’t. It’s a rough situation when your parents don’t want to do it though, I can’t imagine. Just think, hopefully you’ll be back at school and not have to worry about it. You can always email/fb message me whenever because I have a ton to say about this actually.

    • pickyrunner says:

      Thank you thank you thank you! I know you’ve been through if after reading all of your posts about people criticizing you, and I don’t think it’s all that different at all. It’s just one of those things that sucks and some people will never understand I guess. But you’re right, next week I will be back at school and doing my own thing!

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  13. Kaitlin says:

    I don’t think I have had a huge issue with over-exercising. It just becomes my outlet and my parents actually encourage me to work out. I have big anxiety issues with eating in terms of over-doing it and if I feel I have binged on something (freshman year was the worst…entire bag of holiday animal cookies), I start to freak out and then usually exercise is the only solution. Sometimes when I am in a bad mood, it means I haven’t exercised and my mom won’t talk to me until I have gotten out adn about. I think it is something about the endorphins. That might sound strange, but it’s true for me.

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