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Running…the sport for people who aren’t good at sports.
That’s how I fell into it, anyways.
My mom wanted me to have an activity that occupied my afternoons in high school. My friends were doing things like field hockey and soccer, but they weren’t for me. So I joined cross-country and track (winter and spring).
I was pretty good at it back then. Nothing spectacular, but I won some (smaller) races in my day.
I kept up with running in my twenties, mainly to counteract the lifestyle I had of eating too much pizza and drinking too much beer. (I was not yet into the wine.)
As I turned 30, becoming a mom of a little one made running a bit more challenging. No longer could I decide to go for a long run on a whim, grab my sneakers, and go. “Be back in an hour!”
Now planning was involved. If I wanted a run by myself (with no jogging stroller), I would have to do it early in the morning or at night when my husband was home so he could watch the baby.
These types of runs were never thought of in advance. They were more of a “Oh hey, I actually got more than four hours of sleep last night? I should go for a run!” Throw on my sports bra and sneakers and go, sometimes in the same sweats I wore for pajamas the night before.
No more time spent making fun playlists on my phone. No more stylish running outfits.
I just got out when I could, for as long as I could. Usually I wasn’t even doing more than three miles. Still. I kept running as a priority.
When my second and third kids came along, running got even more difficult to incorporate into my life. The three mile minimum runs turned into one mile runs. Sometimes two, if I was feeling brave.
But I needed those runs. Especially on the mornings when I woke up and everyone was annoying me…my husband, the baby, the older kids. As I tried not to scream at each of them, I wordlessly laced up my two-year-old sneakers that I got for $40 at Kohl’s with a coupon. I took the dog and I left.
That’s what I love about running. It’s just so simple. The decision to run can be turned into the action of running in less than a minute– just put on your gear and head out.
Sure, having kids throws a wrench into that, but you have to take advantage of your limited windows of opportunity. (And I know they are limited, my friend. Trust me, I know.)
Even though it was only for twenty minutes, it was enough. It was twenty minutes without whining. Twenty minutes of getting my endorphins going. Twenty minutes of sweating, calorie-burning exercise that was making me healthier and stronger.
It made me feel sane again. By the time I had circled back around to my house, all was forgiven. My children, even though they were probably still screaming, appeared angelic again. My husband wasn’t the enemy. I could shower and feel accomplished for the day.
I had gotten my run in.
As my kids are getting a little older (the baby will actually sit up and do things now as opposed to just demanding to be fed and changed every two hours), I am able to run more. Longer.
My friend Marta convinced me to run the Princeton Half Marathon in October. My previously long runs of four miles have turned into ten miles. (I’ll be aiming for eleven on Saturday.)
I have even found a way to turn what I always worry is a selfish way of spending my “free” time into a way to help others. Each time I run, I open the Charity Miles app on my phone and start it up. It tracks my miles and lets me raise money for my favorite charity at the same time.
I have a goal of running enough miles to raise $5 per week for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which funds research for a cure to Parkinson’s disease. $5 per week is $20 a month, which is $240 a year just by running at no cost to me.
And during the month of September, I also log these miles in the Alex’s Lemonade Million Mile fundraiser. (You can do it, too– just sign up by clicking on the link!)
It’s funny how something deemed as an individual sport, something that I feel guilty leaving my kids to do, has the ability to do so much for the community…and even more for my own sanity.
So what are you waiting for? Get your run on. All you need to do is take that first step.