When I started running, I had one goal in mind: run a 10 mile race in August. But as the months passed by, I realized I was doing much more than just training for a race. I was learning along the way. Because of the physical AND mental nature of running, I have been learning not only about my body and what it is capable of, but also about who I am and how I can help others. Pretty cool, right??
I think probably one of the best things that has happened since I started running is that I started to truly feel capable of anything. Funny how something like running can spill over to other areas of my life, but it did. It started with “if I can run one mile, I can run two” and became “if I can run 10 miles, I can run 13.1 by November.” But it also became, “if I can run 10 miles, I can (fill in the blank).” And those blanks are anything! I can play more/yell less/eat better/drink more water/write a blog post today. Running totally shifted my thinking. My inner dialogue never believed that I could ever run as much as I am today. But once I did, I started believing that whatever it is that I “couldn’t do” I actually am 100% capable of doing.
On a related note, I think that running is unique in that it’s very individual. Back in the day, I used to do group fitness. And while I felt really proud of those completed classes, it wasn’t quite the same feeling I have when I finish a run. In group fitness, I was doing the workout, sure, but I had a room full of others and an instructor all there. I didn’t have to motivate myself; it was built into the design of the exercise. With running, it’s all me. I push myself. I have to clap, jump, pray, sing, blare music too loud, distract myself with podcasts. There’s no one else around. I am running against myself and with myself. Running has taught me that even when no one is looking, I will keep going. When no one is around to praise my heroic efforts, I will keep going. That’s a pretty powerful revelation in my life.
I’ve also learned that taking time for me is important. I used to think that if I took any time away from my kids (other than work), I was being a bad mom. What kind of mother works all day and then leaves to work out? It just seemed like there was no way I would be able to exercise, work, and still be there for my kids. Finally, I realized that taking some time 2-3 days a week would not make me a terrible mama. Actually, kind of the opposite. Running is a stress reliever, a way to become physically and mentally stronger, and it rejuvenates me. So while I am away from my babies a couple extra hours per week, I come home refreshed, less stressed out, and feeling much better about myself.
One of the best things I’ve learned from running is that it can inspire others. My sisters inspired me to start running…and I inspired Brandon and even a co-worker or two! It wasn’t THAT long ago that B and I were saying stuff to my sister like, “WHY do you run? It sounds AWFUL!!” and now look at us! We’re telling everyone at work that they can do it if we can do it. I’m telling people on Facebook and Instagram that they can do it. I’m cheering my husband on and we’re about to run our first half marathon…together. It just is so amazing to me that this simple thing turned into something we all discuss at work. I still owe a co-worker a run—we had to cancel last week, but she wants to do a mile with me, and I’m so ready to encourage her along the way for that first mile!!
Running has also taught me that our kids are always paying attention. I mean, I know that’s obvious…they repeat what we say, they do what we do. I guess what I am really saying is that running highlighted this truth for me. My daughter is only 4, but she gets what we’re doing. She doesn’t always love that I’m leaving for a run, but she knows that it’s happening anyway, and she understands that it’s important. So much so that she sometimes asks us to run with her. She will put on her workout clothes and get ready to hit the road. We only go a few houses down, but she thinks it’s amazing. If my kids are paying attention to what I’m doing and want to be just like me, I better do things that are good for us. Running/focusing on keeping our bodies healthy is one thing I AM glad she sees. She’s seeing a mom and dad who decided that running is a way to be active and healthy and have fun. And as a side note, I totally love when she says things like “Mommy, I am so proud of you! or “You ONLY have to run 4 tonight, Mom!” And then there’s our sweet Maverick, who stands in the driveway yelling “GO! GO! GO!” because even though he’s only a year old, he wants to be part of this whole thing. Yes, he’s gone on a run too (Daddy carried him) and he loved every second of that 2 minutes!
Although I’ve only been a “runner” (and I am not even legit, so I use the term loosely) for 5 months, I’ve already learned so much. It’s been a great experience training for the Crim, and now the half marathon. I’ve lost a little weight and maybe gotten a bit of tone, but it’s not even about that. It’s shown me strength I didn’t know I had within. It’s motivated me beyond what I set out for originally. I’ve found a new way to bond with those I’m close to…sharing running highs AND lows with family and friends who get it and support me, and supporting them right back.
I can’t wait to see what else running has in store for me.
Okay, guys…let’s hear it. Are you a runner? If so, what have you learned? What do you love about it? If not, do you have a workout you can’t get enough of? What makes it perfect for you?