I used to hate running. No, I mean, really, really HATE running. I hated gym class generally (being a nerd, I was always picked last for teams), but the running unit was particularly bad. In high school, I remember one day, we were forced to run laps around a muddy track, in the rain, when I was feeling less than well. If teenage resentment alone could kill a gym teacher, it would have happened that day.
In those days, if you saw me running, you probably should have started running too, as something big and scary was probably chasing me. I even disliked people who ran, with their perky little ponytails, and perfectly coordinated stretchy outfits.
If you had told me back then that I would take up running, I would have wondered, first, where you got your nifty time machine, and second, who you had me confused with.
Then I had kids, and something invisible inside me switched on. It told me to run, as fast and as far as I could, away from the ear-splitting tantrums, the pee-soaked bathroom floor, and the battery-operated toy piano with the demo-mode that only plays Christmas carols all year round.
Fortunately for my husband, the switch in my brain also contains an override function which is activated by some sort of motherly instinct and love for my family. So, I come back.
I really enjoy it now. I get quiet time to myself. I don my stretchy outfit, pull my hair up in a ponytail, grab my earbuds, and take to the streets with the masses of identical moms. I suspect many of them share the same motivation.
Exercise is one of the best ways to combat anxiety and depression. Most people know that exercise releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings. It improves sleep, battles countless physical ailments, including some cancers, heart disease, and even some infectious diseases, and hey, look what I just found: it can even improve memory and concentration. Who couldn’t use more of that?
And, of course, I’d be willing to wager that most moms would like to lose a few around the middle. I also get to run through a lovely greenbelt, and take advantage of all the additional benefits of greenspaces (you can find half a dozen other blog posts by me on this topic, like this one.).
I have never been healthier. People change, habits change, abilities change. I’m not a fast runner, and I don’t go very far. People often pass me, (people pushing strollers, 80-year-olds, particularly ambitious turtles), but I don’t mind. I have no ambitions to run a marathon, or even a half marathon for now. However, a casual 5K at this point is quite manageable, and that’s 5K more than I could run 20 years ago.
So, take that, 15-year-old self! I’m more than twice your age, and look what I can do that you couldn’t!