I ran a half marathon in college, without training for it, and while my knee has been damaged ever since, it taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to, as long as I keep going. Because that’s all I really had to do to finish the race…keep going. I remember stopping a few times because I was too warm; I had overdressed for my first race in a location that was not Florida. It turns out running in 30 degree weather is not that awful because your body produces more heat as you run, and I was wearing too many layers. I was also in pain because back then I didn’t understand the concept of pacing yourself. Who cares how far ahead you are of the pack if you are going to burn out and not have enough energy to keep up and might actually slow down way more towards the end?
Anyway, ever since then, I like signing up for races because I know I can handle them. I hadn’t run anything other than a 5K up until this year. I signed up for a half marathon last year but then I found out I was pregnant and didn’t want to risk exerting all that energy from a body that was not trained and would now be carrying a child. Therefore, I lost the $45 and “free” drinking glass, but I think it was the best choice.
This year, I was determined to start exercising again once my doctor gave me the green light, but with two kids at home and very little energy to do much after I got home from work, I didn’t quite get into running until this fall when I kind of decided that I needed to live my life differently. I am still young and there is so much I want to do that I never do. And just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean my life should stop. I remember with my first child I felt like I lost all of my identity and I didn’t want the same to happen. Kids don’t take away your personality; you are the one who does or doesn’t choose to make your life about them and not you.
This time around I wanted to hold onto the pieces of me that made me happy, and while I was still working on myself, I knew that running was one of the things on that list.
I signed up for a race on Thanksgiving Day and was proud to only have stopped once for the half-way mark water. I looked online and saw this 10K was part of a Minnesota Run Series, so I signed up to run another one in early December. The races were only two weeks or so apart, but I was confident I could do it. I ran the Turkey Trot then the Reindeer Run, and I would have signed up for a Christmas Day 5K, but I’m not rich.
My friend wants to run the Polar Dash together in January but I’m probably going to save the money and just decide to run more regularly around my neighborhood. The problem is that it’s Minnesota, and there’s sometimes snow or ice on the ground, so it’s a bit dangerous and annoying. But I think it’s going to help my mood a lot.
I sometimes suffer from depression, and while I’ve worked hard to redirect the bad thoughts that drive me into anxious spirals, I really need something consistent to keep my body actively producing endorphins. I truly believe that faith in God, casting all your worries on Him, is effective, but when your mind is in weak shape, it can make it that much more difficult. I want to run to keep my mind sharp, because half of the spiritual battles is learning to recognize not only your weaknesses but how to overcome them, which is rarely simple or easy. As I work through my struggles, I will be happy to be a runner again.
I ran cross country in high school and college, and though I was never amazing or the fastest girl, I could finish every race and continue improving. My times for these races were not what I would want, but I wasn’t paying attention to finish times. I focused on finishing without stopping, and improving from one race to the other–which I did.
Since I’m also doing Muay Thai on the side now, I want to improve times next year and be in competition with myself, but it’s not necessarily my top priority, so we will see how it plays out.
In the meantime, I just hope to encourage others, especially new moms, to not get too wrapped up in the haze of parenting a brand new baby and to remember that by diving into an activity that you can call your own, you will be in that much better of a condition to be a stronger and healthier mother for your kids! Wait the time you need for your body to heal, but don’t put it off forever. Exercise is a wonderful outlet for stress, and your kids can eventually do it with you, too. Next summer, I’m going to enroll my toddler in a kid race and see if he likes it 🙂