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Sunday, August 23, 2015

why I love running

I love running.

I can't believe I'm saying that. Who likes getting sweaty, hurting their knees and shins, and again getting super sweaty?

Well, I do.

I have always run, since I was a field hockey player in high school and doing crazy runs to prep for preseason. I lived across from the ocean, so I was pretty lucky to have a good backdrop to run near, of course.

I've always been good at running in the spring, summer and fall. And then it's like November hits and it all goes downhill. I live in Maine... so running outside is not actually an option (at least for me) in the winter months, too icy, I have a bad knee so don't want to mess it up more by falling out there. And running on the treadmill, well, it's fine, I've done it plenty, but it's not motivating like getting outside is. So I struggle each winter to keep up with running frequently. But I remind myself, it's only 30 minutes. I try to get through 30 and sometimes I'll be on there and want to keep it up and get to 45 minutes. Just tell yourself it's a short amount of time. You can do it!

Now, I run for sanity and my health. I run to be strong.

I hope this post helps you get motivated to run, but more importantly to do something healthy for YOU, to put yourself first, to do something that helps you feel stronger and more confident. Running may not be your thing, but all of the ideas here can be applied to another workout system like exercise classes or swimming or biking, walking, etc. Walking is a GREAT exercise!

I have posted many questions to the Mommy Stories Facebook discussion group in the last week asking moms what they think about running, what helps them stay motivated. Tons of great responses below in this post!

I have always enjoyed running. I mean, I'm not a Runner. I don't do long distance races, a 5k is a big accomplishment to me and it's all I plan to do. People ask, "Is a 10k next? Marathon?" Um, hell to the no. I just like running.

This summer I've put a lot of time back into ME and running is my self-care task of choice. I have been waking up at 5:45 / 6 ish every morning before everyone else is awake and heading outside for a cool, brisk, wonderful summer morning run all alone.

It's invigorating being up that early with nobody in my house awake and barely any people out on the roads. This is what Jessica Turner meant by fringe hours! Finding time for yourself in those moments that you DO have time if you choose to use it wisely. Sure, I could sleep in or get up to check email or blog or do laundry - all things I typically do first thing in the morning. But instead I'm choosing to kick myself out of bed (a few times it's been pretty hard to do - like the time when I was out until midnight with a friend and had to work the next day... eek waking up that morning pretty much sucked but I did it!

I find that if I get out and up and do something for ME even if it's only 30-45 minutes, I'm a better person. I'm more patient, more focused, and more energized. I am a better mother for sure when I take time for ME.

I know running is not for everyone. It really isn't, and that's OK. I know so many women who feel pressured to like running. Running is too damn hard and sweaty to feel pressured into liking it. So if you're one of those women who keeps trying to like running but you just don't like it, then give it up, it's too hard to do spend time on yourself or exercise as it is, hating what you're doing is not worth it!

Find something else- the elliptical machine I've found is a close second to running, it's easier though in that you aren't going long distances if you don't want to and you aren't pounding your knees to pavement. Find something you do like. This post is about running, but you could find something else equally positive for you fitness wise.

Here's my #1 advice though when it comes to finding an exercise routine or method that works for you: It cannot be to lose weight. If your only purpose in doing the exercise is to lose weight, that's stupid. Sorry to offend you, I have pretty strong opinions about doing anything to simply lose weight. Losing weight is fine if you medically need to, I get that. But if you are doing an exercise only to lose weight you will lose the interest quickly, it won't be fun or interesting to you anymore. Instead, I encourage you to try various fitness things - yoga, zumba, swimming, tennis, etc. and find what works for YOU, what makes you happy, what makes you feel better about yourself and in your body, what tones your legs and helps you feel stronger.

Here's why I love running:
  • A little goes a long way. You can run for 30 minutes and feel like you just put in a workout equivalent to at least double that. It's a lot of bang for your buck. As a busy mother who wishes I could take a very long walk over an hour by the ocean but really only I have 25 minutes to spare some days, running helps me get a lot of workout in me for not very long amount of time. 
  • I get to listen to MY music. Seriously who doesn't love music? I know I could sit on my butt in the house and listen to music, too, but there's something awesome about running and working out and knowing I'm getting healthier AND listening to Return of the Mack or Backstreet's Back or Vogue (yes, I have old ridiculous music on my iPod!). 
  • I feel stronger. I literally feel like I could lift anything or chase anything after I've been running. It works my whole body. I feel like I'm better able to chase my kids when I keep up with running on my own. I'm better able to pick them up and swing them as they laugh hysterically. 
  • It clears my head. Being out for a walk or run on my own is therapeutic. It helps me to think, process, figure stuff out, and even to NOT think and just be on my own and free. It's a great stress-reliever. If I've had a rough day pounding my feet on the pavement is a great way to deal with that.  It definitely helps me deal with however I'm feeling.
  • It's something I have to do alone. My husband walks but doesn't run. My kids are too big for the stroller now. So it's ALL ME when I'm running. It's not something I have to feel guilty doing alone, thinking "oh this could be better with the family here, I should invite them along." Um, nope it's just fine with just me. #momMEchallenge
  • It helps me feel confident. I feel physically and emotionally better when I'm keeping up with exercising. I literally feel like I've lost 10 lbs even though I haven't and even though I'm not aiming for that. I'm trying to be strong and toned. I'm trying to work my heart into a strong beat so I'm around for a long time. I'm keeping down my cholesterol. I feel like I can tackle anything if I've taken a run. And accomplishing a 5k? That makes me feel on top of the world, like I just ran a marathon. I get they are totally different, but for this busy mama, running a 5k makes me feel AWESOME. I feel better in my clothes, among peers, and just in general. Running boosts one's self esteem for sure. 
  • I have more energy. I am a lot more patient, less exhausted when I run. I have more energy for the big things in life, even the little whiney things in life are easier when I have energy from running. I feel a high after running, it's invigorating. 
  • It helps me sleep better. Of course! You're tired so you get more restful sleep, it's genius! 
  • I eat better. I want to fuel my body with food that will help me run longer, harder, faster, so I find that if I've run I eat better that day to keep on track of staying healthy. 
  • I feel productive. Especially when I run first thing in the morning, I can be like "take care of me? check!" I also like knowing how far or long I ran, so that's an accomplishment. 
  • I am more patient. I struggle with patience as many moms do. I find that I don't snap as much or yell if I've taken care of myself physically in the morning. If I went on a run, I'm happy that I got time for myself and I'm more patient. I'm also physically tired from running so I don't have energy to waste on snipping at stupid things. 
  • It makes me physically feel better. I don't get as bloated. I have fewer cramps once a month. My legs feel stronger, like I can walk farther and get up a set of stairs easier or carry my children. I don't get gassy as much. I just feel physically better. 

I asked moms in the Facebook discussion group why they love running. Here's what they said:
  • stress relief 
  • alone time
  • weight loss
  • "good for my body, mind and soul!"
  • it's spiritual
  • "For me, running feels like an escape. I am fleeing the past and racing towards that bright new future that I know is waiting for me."
  • helps deal with anxiety and depression
  • makes me feel better after running, even if I don't like actually running
  • makes me feel energized
  • makes me feel confident
  • it feels good to do something to better myself
  • it's my quiet time
  • it makes me healthy
  • it's nice to stomp pavement
  • makes me feel good beating a time or distance 
  • I like taking my child in the stroller and showing my child I'm doing something healthy
  • "You get a good sweaty workout in a short amount of time and all you need is to step out your front door with sneakers on."
  • time to clear my head 
  • ME time
  • it's a good investment in ME
  • it's the only time nobody else can reach me, no phone, just music and me
  • I can unplug
  • being able to listen to music that I can't listen to otherwise
  • it's fun to do with old friends
  • healthy self-competition 
  • setting goals and accomplishing them feels great
  • "Running is a part of who I am and without it I feel lost." 
  • helps with pregnancy nausea
  • it gives me energy to work full time and still have energy to play with my son later
  • it's a good way to teach my son that with hard work he can do anything
  • "It started as a way to lose weight, now it's my sanity." 
  • running has helped my breathing to be regulated
  • good time to organize my thoughts 

Why MOMS should try running:
  • to keep up with busy moving fast toddlers!
  • to reduce stress of parenting 
  • a good habit for kids to see
  • more energy
  • helps you sleep better 
What helps keep moms motivated for running or working out:
  • adrenaline rush
  • remember the feeling of accomplishment at the end of running
  • a friend waiting for me - someone to hold you accountable
  • feeling better, happier, more energetic
  • keeping up with the kids
  • feeling healthy
  • being able to say I ran today
  • self-competition with myself to do better, keep going, not give up
What got you started with running:
  • Couch to 5k program
  • Jessica Smith's You Tube videos
  • Turbo Jam
  • don't focus on beating certain times or going as fast as others, just get out there and move!

Give it a try! Do your best. Set a goal and work toward it. 

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