Why I Run: Karen Burrows

At the Rock the Parkway. I am #604.

I’m not just another mother runner; I’m another teacher runner. Between my own munchkins at home and a flock of kiddos at school, my time on the run is the only time I won’t be asked to wipe a bottom, open a jammed locker, mediate a conflict, find a missing sock, chaperone a dance, organize a bake sale, sit in a dunk tank, or proofread a paper. (The sole sisters I run with might cop a squat by the side of the road, but they don’t expect me to wipe them.) When I run, nobody talks back to me, nobody asks me the same exact question I just answered two seconds ago, and most importantly, nobody needs me.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids, I love teaching, and I love being needed. But I also love the freedom of being inaccessible. In this season of my life, the only way I can get that is to literally run away from it all. And so I do. During the school day, I’m consumed by No Child Left Behind, but once I strap on that Garmin, it’s every child left behind.

I don’t want to sound flippant. When you invest your life in children (either your own or the ones you borrow for the school day), you pay the price in worry. Is Jimmy taking drugs? Did Susie eat breakfast today? Are our test scores high enough? Do these kids realize how amazingly beautiful, smart, creative, and important they are? As a teacher and a mother, I know I have the power to both nurture and destroy. I want my legacy to be a positive one, but I never know when one off-hand comment or poorly-phrased attempt at constructive criticism will crush a tender ego. And while I know I have considerable power, I so often feel powerless.

Wearing #7 at the Mud Run.

Except when I run. Although my pace puts me squarely in the middle of the pack, when I hit the pavement, I’m invincible. Running is my way of coping with the inevitable anxiety, pressure, and heartache that are the hazards of caring—and living.

There are other benefits, of course. Running makes me more patient and less stressed, happier and healthier-- all usual suspects. But here’s one more benefit: I may spend most of my life surrounded by hormone-flooded, acne-plagued, perpetually inconsistent adolescents, but if worse comes to worse, I know that I can outrun them.

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21 responses to “Why I Run: Karen Burrows

  1. I loved your post and can relate in every way. I think as teachers we are also role models for fitness and for setting and reaching goals. My students love to hear about my races and seeing my medals. Some of the little girls from my class run at recess and pretend they are in a marathon!! I am out of the classroom this year and so miss sharing my running stories with my students.

  2. I’m so right there with you!! Running totally keeps me sane, and I think my students benefit from me getting out there and getting some “me” time. I find I do some of my best thinking, and yes, lesson planning, when I am just out there, putting the pavement under my feet. Everyone around me benefits from my running: me, my family, my friends, and my students.

  3. Hey there, I have 4 kids of my own but teach preschool to 12 amazing 4-5 year olds. I am so glad you shared about being a teacher. I just spent a week off of work due to medical issues. I was having chest pains. My doctor said stress and made me take off work. I run not because of the clarity I need to deal with children but for the stress my coworkers bring me daily. I also know that I am the fastest “tickle monster” on the playground and could outrun any of the kids or teachers. And that is why I run!

  4. Wow. I don’t think anyone could sum up the mother/teacher/runner better than you. When our lives are consumed with No Child Left Behind, we need to at some point Leave Every Child Behind. Running provides that. Thank you for providing me with a mantra for the year. LECB!

  5. Love this! I am also a (fairly new) mother/teacher runner. I started running to lose baby weight, but I keep running to give myself a break. It’s cheaper than therapy 🙂

  6. I am with you too! A husband, 4 kids and my work pager — aka the “electric leash”. “I also love the freedom of being inaccessible.”

  7. Karen, good stuff. I find that my time on the road is definitely an escape as well. Most of the time the only thing that keeps me sane is knowing I’m an hour+ out from home. lol.

  8. Love this and proud to know you, do some of life with you, be a Soul Sister, and yes, run with you. You always inspire me and when I leave you…….being better because of who you are! Run Strong!!!!!


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