Two and a half years ago, I was on vacation with my family in Michigan and set off on a run. It was a beautiful day with a gentle lake breeze. My kids were napping, and I felt the freedom to ease into my workout that day. At the time, I had a one-year-old and a two and a half-year-old, and it had been a long time since I felt ease and enjoyment in my workouts, especially my runs, which I used to hold near and dear. I decided to go with that momentum and ran every day we were in Michigan that summer.
When we returned home, I posted on my local moms Facebook page looking for running partners while my boys were in school on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. From there, I was connected with the St. Louis Mother Runners page, and ultimately to a group of moms who were running in my area several mornings a week. I began running with them, and my love for running and morning workouts reignited. One of the other moms in the group was training for a marathon so I put in a lot of miles with her as she prepared. As November came to a close, I looked at my running log and realized I had run 100 miles. December 2017 ended with 116 miles logged. So I set a goal; I decided I would run 100 miles each month for the whole year of 2018. When 2019 came along, I kept running. This past month, I completed 108 miles and my 25th consecutive month of at least 100 miles a month logged. While I cannot say it has always been easy, I can say it has always been worth the time and effort.
I have sworn several times that I am done running and will instead invest my time in strength training and yoga. I have complained about the weather and early morning wake-ups. I have had bad runs that felt like torture and sore muscles that I could not seem to stretch out. At the end of the day, though, I cannot quit running. For me running is physical, mental, and spiritual.
While there are days I loathe running, these are the reasons I run:
*To clear my head. I never listen to music while I run and typically only listen to a podcast half the time when running solo. My running time is the time I spend clearing my head and thinking through whatever is going on in my life. Running is my therapy as I fixate on the good and talk myself through how to handle the bad.
*To connect. Running is the time I have to spend connecting with nature, my loved ones that have passed, and a being bigger than myself. I find myself full of gratitude as I take the time to connect with the world and people outside of myself.
*To get my heart rate up. I have always been one to exercise and value physical health. I enjoy the feeling of a good sweat and the importance of maintaining a healthy heart and strong muscles.
*To spend time with friends. I have made some genuinely great friends through running. It turns out that when you spend hours a week simply moving your bodies together with nothing to do but chat, it’s easy to form a close bond.
As a mom, I find the number one reason I run is to be a better mom. I have had to recognize and come to grips with the fact that I am more mentally clear when I have the opportunity to move my body before I face my day. I can meet my kids with more grace and patience when I have found the time for my morning endorphin release. When that early morning alarm sounds and I consider lying in bed just a bit longer, I typically picture my kids. I imagine how they will want and need me shortly, and for the remainder of the day. I envision my patience, or lack thereof if I chose to stay in bed. And I get up. And I move my body. Because I have found that the extra 45 minutes of sleep holds nothing to the mental clarity, personal connection, friendly encounters, and endorphin release of that early morning run and as a double whammy, my kids benefit too!