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Just Keep Moving Forward: Prioritizing Running

Deciding to keep their bodies and minds healthy through running is something most athletes never regret.

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Close your eyes. (Okay, so read this first, and then close your eyes.)

Imagine that you are 97 years old and it’s the end of your life. You’re dying, but you’re in a good place—and you are a really attractive 97-year-old, as well. (This is not a sad story, so don’t get carried away with drama.) Imagine that you are looking back on your life and remembering all of the good things from the last 97 years.

When you close your eyes, what does your 97-year-old self see? What were the good things?

I know for some of us this exercise elicits some serious eye rolls and shoulder shrugs. But I have found this little exercise to be most helpful. Why? Because it gives an almost instantaneous answer of what matters to me.

When I close my eyes and envision my life, I think about love, my family, some career events—and all those races that I have finished. To me, running and racing triathlon is a big part of the good in my imaginary 97 years.

When my kiddos were very young and in preschool, I sent them to school for Valentine’s Day with store-bought valentines and called it a win. As a working mom of two, I decided that was a big victory, and I patted myself on the back. Later that day, as my young daughter toddled in with masterpiece valentines made by moms who truly cared about said holiday, I came to realize a few things:

  • I really sucked at crafting; and
  • Making handmade shovels with candy bags stating “I Dig You” was not my priority—and likely would never be. (And that was okay).

When we look back on our lives at 97 (should we be lucky and blessed to live that long), the things we will remember are the people, places and events (yes, races!) that made us happy and kept us healthy.

In order to have the fullest version of our best life, learning to establish our special, individual priorities is a must. Running is a priority for us—and that’s okay to say. After all, we will not remember doing things that made us crazy. We will remember running those amazing races—because no matter what others might think about running, it is a priority for runners.

Running is a part of life and health and happiness. Being a runner is not selfish—quite the opposite. We are better people, significant others and parents when we run. Sure, we might run instead of making fantastic Valentines—and that’s okay. In the end, the kids would rather have a healthy, happy mom than a crafty one—you can quote me on that.

Additionally, at the end of our lives, we might remember the best places we traveled to have a run or race. We might recall the look on our friends’ and family members’ faces when they saw us finish a hard race. We might thank ourselves for taking such great care of our bodies that enabled us to live such a long, healthy life—at least that’s what I see when I close my eyes—and to me, that makes running one of the biggest priorities on my list.

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a weekly contributor to Women’s Running. She is a four-time IRONMAN triathlete, recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. You can download a free copy of the book here. Her topic on “The Sucky Rotation Schedule” is a frequently requested talk at events. You can read more here. Meredith is the host of the hit podcast The Same 24 Hours, a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. Read more at:


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