There are a lot of reasons I run — getting in shape is just one.
I’ve never been athletic. Thin? Sure, most of my life. But athletic? Nah. I lacked the coordination for team sports like basketball and volleyball, and I cared more about theater classes than joining the swim team. I dabbled in running as a high school and college student, but it wasn’t until my mid-20s that this simplest of sports really pulled me in. I started running because I could just walk out my door and do it, no fuss.
Over the years though running has unleashed the inner athlete in me and shown me that this part of me was always there. Once I became a parent, running was cemented as a permanent part of my identity. The reasons I run are multi-faceted, just like me.
Running has its obvious benefits — losing weight, toning up — but there are a lot of other reasons that I lace up my shoes several times each week and look forward to hitting the pavement.
The reasons I run include that…
I know moms and dads who love to run with jogging strollers, but that’s not for me. I’d rather go early morning/late evening but be able to do it ALONE than to bring along any of my little ones. I love them. I do. But I work from home so getting out alone to run is sometimes my only 30 minutes in an entire 24-hour period that I’m not holding someone, nursing someone, breaking up a fight, sleeping next to someone who snuck into bed and is kicking me, or yelling “HOLD ON A SECOND!” to a few someones from behind a locked bathroom door. Running is a healthy excuse to be alone for awhile and not feel guilty about it. Of all the reasons I run, this is probably the biggest.
I get to splurge on myself.
Running is often called a “poor man’s sport” because you can be successful at it without joining a gym, or buying expensive gear. That may be true for amateur runners, but once the running bug bites you, it can add up quickly. Road races cost between $25 and $40 usually, unless you set a half-marathon or marathon goal (try $75 – $150+ per race). Factor in needing new running shorts, bras, visors, shoes and any other gadgets that motivate you to get out of bed and hit the pavement, and it can be expensive.
I manage it by asking for running items and race entries from my parents and in-laws for Christmas, my birthday and Mother’s Day. Occasionally, I spend some of my own money, too, but I don’t feel guilty about it. I deserve nice things and what better way to enjoy them than by doing something that is good for me, physically and mentally? The reasons I run are acceptable reasons for people to buy me something I wouldn’t buy myself.
I can listen to mature music.
In fact, I often pick out some pretty not-kid-friendly music to accompany my runs because it is the only time I can enjoy this guilty pleasure safely. Cuss words, bad words, sexual innuendos, rappers spitting it out about guns/gangs/b*#@%es, “Brick” by Ben Folds Five, “Because I Got High” by Afroman, “Can I Get a F&%# You” by Jay-Z … Some people like to listen to soothing music when they work out, but that just makes me want to take a nap. Give me an angry rapper yelling through my ear buds, and I’m off and running.
I need to unplug.
I work at home and my laptop is usually open. When I’m not at home, I have a smartphone nearby. It’s true that I often take my phone with me when I run, but I’m not actively communicating with it. Stepping away from the over-connectedness that comes with my life is refreshing, healing and important.
It validates me.
Parenting often feels like one never-ending to-do list. Just as something is cleaned up, another something is messed up. Just as one homework project is complete, another one crops up. Just as the last dish from dinner is being dried and put in the cupboard, someone walks into the kitchen and declares that he/she is starving. The same is true of my work. As a freelancer, while I’m still in the midst of one project I am actively looking for the next one. Running gives me a starting and ending point that I can accomplish within a half hour. That small feeling of accomplishment goes a long way toward boosting my confidence. It also motivates me in other areas of my life. Shattering my goal time in a race, or the number of miles I wanted to run in a week? Cue “We are the Champions.”
I can do it with my kids.
I still stand by my first point – but I don’t always run alone. My two oldest kids (of five) especially enjoy running short distances (they’ve gone as far as 3.1 miles). They get excited to enter local races and it is something active we can do together. It’s been fun transitioning from them waiting at the finish line, cheering me on, to them crossing that finish line beside me. I look forward to running with all my kids as they get old enough to enjoy it, too.
Do you run? What activities rejuvenate you as a parent?
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