We had just moved to a new city, Tyler started a brand new job and was working a lot. I had a 2 year old and a 6 month old and I knew literally one person. That one person (hi Erin!) somehow convinced me to join her running group and go to one of the weekly stroller runs. Much to my surprise, I did. So, basically, my first foray in to consistent running was my desperate attempt to make friends. And guess what, it worked. I’ve met some of the best people through running like Heather (have you heard of her? 😉 ) and am so thankful it has made making friends as an adult, dare I say it…. easy.
My firstborn was not an easy three year old. He was the epitome of a three-nager, if you will. Add in the always fun dynamic of a six-month old baby barnacle, life was challenging. The moment when I realized that the same deep breathing techniques I used while running longer distances was helpful in not losing my cool with said Three-nager was life-changing. In turn, on runs when I couldn’t possibly go any further, I would give myself a pep talk: keep going, this is a great patience-builder, this will make you a better mom.
I played basketball and volleyball in high school but was never really a runner. It’s a weird thing, taking up a sport as an adult–starting something new and working your way up from beginner is tough stuff. It takes equal parts motivation, flexibility and patience.
Below are more ways running saved me in those super hard years when I definitely felt like I was losing myself.
As I touched on above, I joined a running group to make friends in a new city. It worked like a charm. I developed the deepest friendships I’ve ever had running with women. I have a few theories on why this happened: there’s something about running long distances with others; you’re physically and mentally exhausted, your filter is gone and you talk about everything. Literally everything.
An Always Needed Break
Even when I was a stroller-pushing mama, it was freeing to be able to strap my kids in to the double stroller, load them up on snacks, put headphones in and GO. Now, when I can get that alone time it is, literally, the best.
For awhile, running was my medication. It helped keep anxious feelings and thoughts at bay.
The parallel between the mental toughness of a runner and a mother is striking. I’m terrible at both, I’ll admit, but goodness I feel such a difference in my patience when I’m running consistently.
I am about to admit something that may sound shocking but: I like being indoors. I like to lay horizontal on the couch and binge watch Real Housewives. I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THIS. However, getting outside is so important for my mental health and running is the perfect excuse.
Beer runs. Brunch runs on the weekend. Coffee after a long run. The food (and beer!) at the end of a race. It’s all my favorite.
Look, I’m not on an exercise high-horse, I know I’m not going to win any races or be the fastest runner ever. For me, running has been that thing that has helped me find myself after becoming a mom. Maybe yours is something different. For me, it was either this or professional wine drinking and decided maaaybe that wasn’t good for my long-term health.