I’ve been a runner for a long time. I’ve broken up with my sneakers here and there, but I always come running back. In second grade I ran my ass off so I could beat our school’s Prefontaine, Ann Marie Centrone, during the Presidential Fitness Test. She always smoked me on the last lap. Doh!
In college I ran because I had nothing else to do with my time after an accident left my jaw wired for two months. Lacing up took my mind off pizza pies, Jim Beam, and the inability to have a gab fest, so I did it.
And just a few years back, running kept me from turning into the crazy bag lady with 10 cats after my son was born still. I discovered it’s really hard to cry when you’re running, so I was forced to pick one: bawl or bust a move. I picked the latter in the form of six miles daily as the perfect remedy to work through my heartache.
Lately, I’ve gotten a little more serious about running. I find myself training most days of the week for a race. Simmer down now. I’m not all that. This just means I have a lot of thinking time on my hands.
One day this past summer, I had an epiphany while cussing these godforsaken Florida roads on my humid long run day: hitting the pavement makes me nice. Hitting the pavement makes me less bitchy. Well, dang, hitting the pavement turns me into a super mom.
Aside from the mental benefits and taming my lovely lady lumps, the lessons I get from running help me preserve the greatest gift of all: motherhood. How so, you ask? Brace yourself for my laundry list. I’m about to get more annoying than ISIS.
4 Ways Running Makes Me A Super Mom
Run the mile you’re in. Best. Advice. Ever. Read on a race poster. Seeing it, as I deliriously dragged myself from one mile marker to the next during my first marathon, helped me focus, take in the journey, and get to the finish line. In normal civilian talk, this poster was telling me to get the hell with it and enjoy the moment, without wishing it away.
When my 6-year-old was a baby, I remember being exhausted and counting down the days until she would sleep longer, play independently, and help me with the laundry. She has accomplished all of that including the laundry (cha-ching!), and now I feel guilty for not fully appreciating her adorable helplessness then.
With my toddler, I now know better. Whether she spits food on the floor as I Swiffer, stomps “No” to my every breath, or arches her back as she’s being diapered, I appreciate it. I appreciate all of her stinkin’ attitude because thanks to running I now enjoy the mile that I’m in.
On the course or in la casa, quitting is never an option. My immigrant never-go-barefoot-on-tile Peruvian parents tried all my life to instill this value, but nothing brought it home like the New York City Marathon last month. Good lawd, there’s a reason why they call this race the beast. Five bridges, 20 knots of wind, and being teased by the ups and downs of hills for 26.2 miles made my legs cry uncle after the half way point. When I saw my family at mile 17, I wanted nothing more than to jump the fence and pretend I was a spectator whose legs were cramping from standing in the hot dog line. Instead I dug super deep and finished the race because I knew that I physically could. My mind got me to the finish line because quitting was not an option. And because my ride was waiting for me there.
Though “the beast” underscored my say-no-to-quitting resilience, this adage is something that I tap into quite often as a mother, thanks to running. Just a month before I wrestled “the beast” and after 8 years of clemency from the hurricane gods, the entire state of Florida went into freak mode with the threat of a direct hit from the annoying class four Hurricane Matthew. Since we live three blocks from the Atlantic waters, our hood was under mandatory evacuation. My anxiety was on the verge of reaching the Mommy Dearest echelon by having to secure two homes, two pets, and two sick kids in two days. Until, of course, I closed my eyes (not while I was driving) and quietly reminded myself that quitting was not an option. I would guide us out of chaos and into the comfort of our recently booked three-star Orlando wannabe Utopian suite if I just kept going. And taraaaaa, I didn’t quit. In fact, I got all our babies to safety and lived to bitch about it. (Sorry, but a hurricane in October? A little uncalled for.)
You can have a game plan, but don’t get too attached. It’s happened to me when I’ve taken 45 minutes to gear up for a 16-mile run only to have a violent thunderstorm ruin it. It’s happened to me when I wanted to PR (that means personal record to all you bocce ballers) and missed it by three seconds. And yes, it even happened to me during “the beast” when I didn’t finish strong. Running has taught me how to manage expectations and, even better, it’s taught me how to parlay my disappointments into a better plan for the next attempt. I’m so grateful for this, especially when I’m treading water in diaperland.
Before I had littles, I naively imagined the mother-child honeymoon period to be an infant peacefully sleeping solo in her overpriced Pottery Barn nursery. Said baby would gaze lovingly into my eyes as she breastfeed, that is until she reached the mature age of 6 months. ‘Cause you’re not suppose to breastfeed someone with teeth, right? In real life, I breastfed my first baby until she was nearly 3 years old, my 2-year-old is still on my titty, and both their nurseries look like Pinterest fails. You’re also mistaken if you think we would ever allow them to sleep by themselves at night. Yet all this insanity happened organically. We thought we knew how it was going to go, but our kids’ needs compelled us to change course. And thanks to running, I can say I’m a better parent because I’m able to adjust (with a tiny amount of bitching) without dwelling. Cue the feel-good hip-hop.
Wired to be inspired. This is probably one of my favorite things running has done for me as a mom. During my first few races, I was mentally more competitive and would pretend-race people on the course, who by the way had no idea we were racing each other. Lame-o. These days I seek out people who have a great stride or look happy, essentially those who inspire me, and I follow them all the way to the finish line. And because this is something I’m so used to doing during a race, it’s become second nature to do the same in everyday life.
Talk about oozing positivity. Running has taught me to open my heart and seek out inspirational people because I need them daily to get me to the finish line. I have found these wonderful individuals in my hood, in my squad, and yep, even on social media. They’re invading my world and I love it. Funny thing is, I think they’ve always been around, but I just happen to be looking now.
Have I sucked you into the world of running yet? Or better yet, do you have another activity that owns your heart and contributes to your parenting? We would love to hear from you.
Photo credit: flickr.com
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