Dads Who Run: Meet Ben Tanzer

This is the next installment of Dads Who Run here on cubicle dad runs.

Working parents have a lot on their plate. And as a working dad, I think we sometimes get taken for granted. It’s tough to balance work, family and life in general. Now add in endurance sports? You’re upping the ante a bit. I thought it would be nice to highlight some Dads who run! If you’re a dad who runs, and want to share your story, send me an email and we’ll talk!

With that said, take it away Ben!

1. Introduction

I am Ben Tanzer, and I am a co-founder of Wham!, the Director of Communications for a nonprofit, an author, the father of two boys, Myles, 9 -1/2 and Noah, 5 -9/10 and a highly compulsive, albeit endlessly slower runner.

2. How long have you been a runner?

I have been running for thirty years this past spring. I was obsessed with joining the track team in 7th grade, there was something magical about it, not sure what I thought it was, and I was hooked, first day, hooked like when I first started reading, which had also been a profound experience for me, escapist and calming. And running as soon as I tried it, was something I was immediately desperate to do and thought about all the time. Writing is like that now as well, I thought I was supposed to write and once I finally started, a switch was flipped and there’s no choice anymore.

3. What are your running goals?

Keep breathing. Ignore all the people passing me. Get out 3-4 times Monday – Friday, 1-2 times over the weekend. Run a minimum of 30 minutes with one run per week of at least an hour. Don’t hate myself. Ignore the constant pain in my arthritic right knee. Lower my 5K time every year. Never look at my stomach or run shirtless. Mostly in that order.

4. When do you run? Do you schedule time or just go?

Since my kids were born I have focused primarily on getting out before everyone wake-ups, though my older son can now somewhat fend for himself in the morning, so if he’s the only one awake, I hide the knives and go out. Twice a week, however, I work now at home and put in two shifts, around 9:30am – 2:30pm, post- and pre- school drop-off and pick-up, and then later at night when the kids are asleep. This schedule has allowed me to run right after drop-off or during lunch, which is helpful and something I can count on. Either way, running is always scheduled in some fashion and I am always plotting days in advance the time slots look best in the days to come.

5. Is it easy for you to balance everything? (i.e. work, family, running)

It’s easier to be calmer about it than I used to be, embracing the big picture idea that not every day or even week goes as planned or hoped and that not every predetermined slot will work out. Work and family are the priorities, so most of the time running and writing suffer the most if anything suffers. For years I had more balance because while writing was a need, I was not quite as desperate to do it as I am now, so there is a constant effort to balance and schedule. I also travel for work, and when I do that, I’m not sure how much the family suffers, or try to not think about it, but when I travel, I make sure I write and run every day I’m on the road because I feel like if not then, when, never, maybe.

6. Or do you make running/ training a priority?

It is a priority in that after work, family and writing I would put running before most anything, and sometimes I put it before those things as well. I certainly bend them to make it work. I know other people have perfect days that involve all kinds of wonderful and cool activities, full of meetings and fashion shows, hanging out with celebrities, going to college football games and tailgating, or being invited to the White House, but for me a perfect day is getting-up early and running and writing before the day starts, everyone is still asleep and everything is still to come. The idea of writing and running cause me the most anxiety, when will I do them, will that slot work, or this one, what if I can’t get them in, or either, what then. But when I accomplish both first thing, everything is calmer. The grass is greener. And everyone, including myself, is better looking.

7. Do you share your story? (i.e. blogging, twitter, facebook)

Some might say I over share. I am an active blogger, Twitterer and Facebooker. I have also published a collection of essays about the intersection of writing and running titled 99 Problems that not only delves into ten different runs over a 4-month period and the things I was writing and processing during and after those runs, but the various compulsions mentioned here, along with aging, injuries and sex, not that the latter is a compulsion, much, really.

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