“I am a runner.” The path to saying these words and really mean them has been difficult and suprising to me. For most of my life, when asked if I ran, my reply was something along the lines of “…depends on what’s chasing me!” Books or music were my preferred pastimes. Even during those episodes where I vowed to “get in shape”, I’d work out at the gym, or work with a trainer, and even walk frequently. But running? Never. Runners are gazelle-like, lithe creatures who breezily pass me by on the road, ponytail perkily bobbing along. In no way do I resemble a gazelle. Running is hard, sweaty, and tiring. And did I mention hard?
About a year after our second kiddo was born, my husband and I were both a bit frazzled with managing the challenges of parenting young kids, working and dealing with the household. He decided he was going to start running. An avid soccer player in his youth, he was used to running. Off he went. He started feeling less stressed out, more relaxed. He ran farther… and faster. And I thought, “Hey – that would be something fun we could do together which doesn’t involve parenting!” So I bought a pair of running shoes and started. My first mile ever was brutal. Up the street half a mile and back half a mile. The fact that it was July and about 98 degrees and humid didn’t help. But I kept trying.
It was slow going. I walked sometimes. I felt ungainly. I did not magically transform into that lithe, agile person who ran for miles without strain. But I did get some alone-time (precious to any parent). And I wanted to be able to do it. It took me forever to manage running three miles without walking. But I did it, with help from good playlists, and encouragement from friends and my husband. The first time I ran six miles, I did it out of sheer stubborness. I still didn’t consider myself “a runner”. I registered for a 5K race, and I finished! Then I ran a 10K in the July heat. I wasn’t fast, but I finished! Three weeks later I ran a four-miler. And I finished! And I started noticing that when I didn’t run, I missed it. It is still hard. I usually hate the first mile.
Why do I keep going? Because the running allows me time to be alone; because my stress level drops dramatically after a run; because I can ‘zone out’ to my music and to the scenery and recharge my mental batteries; and because I know I am getting stronger. I run because being a relaxed, healthy person makes me a better person, wife and mom. I run, not because I’m being chased, but because I’m chasing something – my goal of staying strong and healthy. What about you? What is your me-thing that makes you feel great, recharges your mental and physical self and lifts you up?
About the Author:
DecaturMamaofTwo is a Gemini, a reader, a linguist, and a recently-inspired runner. She is mama to two kids (almost six, and two) and married to a very patient man. Some of her favorites include reading, laughing, eating chocolate and a-hah moments. Her secret vice is reading trashy romances. Currently she is teaching high school French.