I am running.
Not away. Not from something. Certainly not for pleasure either.
I’m just running, to exercise.
For those of you who know me, you also know how impossible and weird that is for me. Because I just don’t do that. I’ve always loathed running. Something always hurts - leg, sides, lungs, toes, you name it - and it never felt natural to me.
But it wasn’t until my first attempt at running with other moms, one of whom is a marathoner/triathlete who gave us great tips as we ran, did I realize that I’d been doing it wrong all along. No wonder I hated it. When I got back from my first session, nothing hurt. In fact, it felt right. And by our third running session, it felt great!
I never thought I’d use these two words in the same sentence: “running” and “great”. Yet here I am. Sunday would be our fourth week at this, and I’ve not missed a single day. We only run three times a week, first thing in the morning, but for a bunch of moms with kids, it’s quite a feat to get us together to do this for as long as we have.
Now that it’s Fall, the air is crisp and the leaves are falling from the canopy of trees all around us as we run on our neighborhood sidewalks, as well as the path by the beach. Some mornings, it’s absolutely breathtaking. Literally and figuratively. It has been a great motivating factor, apart from having a wonderful gaggle of moms as running partners.
We’re quite a posse, if you ask me. We may be slow, as we’re mostly trying to get a hang of this running thing so we’re running and walking to build our stamina and strength, but we’re at least determined. We talk, we encourage, we support. Mostly, we run.
And man, I don’t have to tell you the sense of accomplishment I feel when we complete our run. It’s no surprise that it’s one of the main things that keeps me going.
I chose to write about this experience because I know there will be days that I’m going to need the motivation to get out there. When it’s cold - we’re in Chicago, where the winters can be as brutal as you can imagine - and when all I want to do is to curl up with my girls under the blanket, going outside to run will be the biggest challenge.
I will have plenty of excuses to drop out of running, and that’s why I want to dispel all of them now, so that I can come back to this when I need it the most. So that when the time comes, I will remember why I need to get out there.
Excuse Number 1: No time
Bullshit. I know of moms of two, three kids with a busy full-time work schedule who train for and complete marathons and triathlons. And My Guy has been exceedingly helpful in making sure that I do get the time to get out there, which brings me to Excuse Number 2.
Excuse Number 2: I can’t do this alone
But I’m not. I have running partners, and even if I don’t, I have a partner at home who makes it easier for me to do this. When I’m running, My Guy feeds and dresses both girls, and he even makes coffee and sometimes waffles for when I get back.
Today, when I came home from dropping Little Miss off at preschool after my run, he had Thumper on his lap while he was on a conference call. She was silently watching a computer screen filled with Elmo as he used the other screen for his meeting. He did what it took so that I could get my run in.
As if that isn’t enough, he has also moved meetings, stayed home to take client calls and left for work later just to accommodate me. Because he knows how important this is to me.
They say it takes two, and I have that in spades in this amazing man of mine.
Excuse Number 3: Running gear is expensive. I can’t afford to run!
But I can’t afford a gym membership either. Also, if I don’t get some kind of exercise in, I won’t be able to afford my medical bills from sitting on my ass even more! I’m no spring chicken, and I already feel creaks in my joints. I know I will pay for it dearly in the long run (haha, pun intended) if I don’t do something about that now. While I still can.
You know what they say about an ounce of prevention...
So yes, my new running shoes were expensive. But it’s worth every penny if it means a longer, healthier life with my family.
Excuse Number 4: It’s too cold
I have to admit, this does concern me. I have never run in the winter. Hell, what am I saying? I’ve never run before, period.
At this point, I don’t have a good solution for inclement weather. I only know that, with proper attire, it’s doable, and I’m willing to give it a shot at least. More gear to buy! And if that makes me hesitate, see Excuse Number 3.
Excuse Number 5: It’s not as fun as...well, nearly everything else!
Okay, so this is a tough one to beat. My family starts the weekend mornings with a Planet Earth documentary. They lay on the couch, all piled on top of each other. It’s hard to look at that and not want to dive right in to make a little nook for myself.
But the thing is, when I get back, they’re still there. As are other things. Like brunch, a walk in the park, and a slew of other fun activities. It helps that I’m already out the door by 7:30 most mornings, which means I still have the rest of the day to spend with my family.
Excuse Number 6: Saggy boobs
Too late. Thumper got to them first. But there are also myriad options out there to keep “my girls” in place. Apparently, with the right gear, anything is possible. Again, see Excuse Number 3.
But we also need the right attitude. I get that. I’m writing this while I’m still on a runner’s high, and I’m all about High Five’s and Can-Do’s. Suddenly, achieving a 5K by the end of the year doesn’t seem so impossible. Or even daunting. And I want to do it.
LET’S DO THIS!
Above all else, running is important to me because of my girls. Not only do I want to be around for them, I also want them to be healthy. And as we all know, the best way to do that is to model the behavior I want to see in them. For the longest time, since both girls were born, our family made many excuses to just sit on our laurels/behinds. I depended on breastfeeding for post-baby weight loss (woot!), and both My Guy and I relied too heavily on decent genes in keeping us relatively in shape.
But exercise isn’t just about looking good in a bikini is it? It’s about health. It’s about energy. And oh my goodness do I have that now. I remember spending one evening picking up around the house for three straight hours. I felt like a bullet.
Before, I would just sit behind my computer and call it a night once the kids were in bed because I would be too exhausted from all the working and mom’ing. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I need to physically do something every evening. And fortunately for my family, housekeeping it is.
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I think I have enough here to keep me committed to running. However, ask me again when it’s five degrees and gusty outside. Let’s see if this post will be enough to get me out there.
If nothing else works, I should at least try to remember this: When I’m running, I feel capable; I feel strong. I feel like I can do anything.
I never could believe that before, but I am finally starting to.
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If you’re a runner/cyclist/<insert active lifestyle of choice here>, what keeps you going? How do you maintain your lifestyle with each season? What is your biggest motivator?
Tell me more. Tell me everything. Because I really want to do this, and I will take all the help I can get.
image source: Running feet, by Eva the Weaver.