I started running for two main reasons. 1. to have an acceptable excuse to be away from my children. 2. to finally lose that baby weight/extra weight from before baby that I was just ignoring and hoping it would take care of its self. I had two friends who lived near that were also ready to start running for very different reasons than me, I am sure. We formed a Mommy running club and we met every Wednesday night after bed time to socialize and run. In the beginning socializing was more important and took up the majority of our time but soon we began to do more running and once a week training turned into 2-4 days a week of meeting up and getting a work out in. We challenged each other and encouraged each other and we each grew into better runners than we were before we started. We entered a few 5 Km “Colour fun runs” and enjoyed posting pictures of our selves all over social media splattered in paint and looking fit!
Things got a little more serious when one of us running mommies suggested we enter a 10 Km race. it was then that I had to step up my game and actually start running and training more seriously. With more intense training and a whole load of encouragement from my fellow mommies I completed the race and showed off my participation medal with great pride. That was is. I did it. I showed I was a serious runner and I could finally hang my runners up. Wrong again. We signed up for a half marathon.
As I was running and training for my half marathon I was reminded of labour. I know that sounds weird but I really feel like I knew what I was getting myself in for when I signed up for my 1/2 marathon. I had gone through labour twice. I know what it meant to push my body to extreme exhaustion and the amazing relief afterwards when the race was over. So I persevered and was rewarded with a giant hug from my family and lots of high fives from my friends as we crossed that finish line and received our well earned participation/completion medals! Well worth the training but for the record. I have officially hung up my marathon running shoes! No more! and that is final!
OK, so how has my running journey helped me in motherhood? Here are 5 reasons I think you should start doing some sort of physical training that isn’t the act of rearing a child.
1. Self Discipline – As I learned to push myself physically with running and working out I slowly trained myself to follow through on promises I had made to myself and to my children. I would set goals and I would reward myself when I accomplished them. I set aside 2 nights and one morning a week dedicated to training my body. I found that as I psychically was being trained I was also mentally being trained. Running helped me become more focused during the day to day tasks of being a mom. I would start to make goals for my days and I had the discipline to complete them. My goals were simple at first and continued to change with each day and slowly I was feeling less and less overwhelmed with all the tasks that fall into a stay at home mom/small business owners lap. My children were getting more opportunities to play, do crafts, help cook, go for long walks, have friends over, and most importantly have time to play with me! That is what it is all about in the end anyways:)
2. Perseverance– Ha! I swear my toddlers hate this part of me! I am way more consistent and I never give up. This one slowly started to develop during the very first run I went on. My goal in the beginning was just to be able to run with out stopping the amount of kilometers i set out to run. It started with 1.5 km for my first run and I think that first run was my hardest when it came to this goal I had set. I did it tho. With each run I completed without stopping I grew more and more confident in myself and felt myself getting mentally stronger as well. There was nothing a toddler could do to change my mind after a consequence had been put out there. I am no perfect and plenty of days I failed myself and my children but God is good and when I was weak He was strong and we survived those days.
3. Patience – I tend to need a lot of this. I consider myself a hug Ford F150 Patience guzzling machine. I get filled up and in 10 minutes I am empty again and need to be refueled. Running really helped me with this as I learned to have patience with myself and my tired body and mind or with people around me. I started to rely deeply on my nights where I got to run or work out that when I had to miss them due to a sick child or a husband who had to work late I would get super annoyed and frustrated and angry. After a few arguments with my husband about this i started to look to my God who has all the answers. He told me “be patient, this is your life. This is your family. You will have so much time to your self again one day. Have patience and be present for your family right now. There is always time to run as long as you are not running away from your family.” This one was important for me to learn. I have a hard time seeing the big picture on most days. I tend to focus on the next 2 minutes of my life and freak out if i do not get what I want/need/intended for in that moment. This was an area in my life that needed and still needs work. I didn’t know how to even label it until I started running. I find it fitting that it came to light at such a trying time in my life. when are you ever more in need of patience than when you are raising two toddlers and running a daycare full of other peoples toddlers? The answer is never!
This one was really put to the test while writing this post. I deleted entire sections of this post by accident not once, not twice, but 5 times!!! I am not kidding you. I literally took 9 different times of sitting down for at least 1/2 an hour to write this post. That is just crazy. If it wasn’t my children interrupting me for a snack, a cuddle, or to break up a fight it was my husband interrupting me for a snack, a cuddle or well I think you get the point. Family is busy. Family requires patience. Running has helped but I am not sure I will ever master the art of patience.
4. Independence/ outlet – This one is my favorite! I was slow to learn it in the beginning but the more it becomes real in my life the more I love it. It is so important to be your own person. God has called you to be You. He has a plan for you. Your plan does not go on hold the moment life gets difficult or distracting. My husband and my children are super distracting. They are not an excuse to stop doing Gods will but they did become mine. I forgot who I was for a while. I was living under my role as Mother/Wife. I was forgetting that I was also called to be a friend, a daughter, a sister, a neighbor, a servant, a daughter of the King. As crazy as it sounds running helped me realize that again.
Running is boring. At least for me. So I spent a lot of time with my own thoughts and the more I trained the longer my runs would get and the longer I would rely on my own thoughts to distract me from the boredom of running. I find music distracting. I love music when I am at home cleaning, playing, folding laundry, cooking, or writing blog posts. For some reason I do not like it while running. So I am stuck with my own thoughts.
Being stuck with my own thoughts means I spend a lot of time talking to Jesus. I use running not only for my own independence but also for sorting my thoughts and talking to my sweet sweet Jesus. I get a lot off my chest while I am running. I share a lot of my pains and worries and struggles and hopes and dreams with God while I am running. I love hearing his voice while I am running. I find comfort in the therapy that running brings me. For this I am thankful I started running. It gives my body an outlet as well as my mind.
5. Positive example – Raising young children is hard. They not only learn by listening to what you tell them but they learn even more from watching. Making sure I was practicing what I preach and setting them up for success in life is important to my husband and I. A huge part of that is getting exercise ourselves. My son would kiss me good night and wish me a “good run” and say “keep your heart healthy, mom, so we can run together forever.” I try really hard to make sure he knows the reasons I run. The important reasons. I run to keep a healthy heart and strong lungs. I run so I can out run him. (at least until he is 4). I hope a by product of me being active is that I lose weight and fit my clothes better but I try my hardest not to make that the main focus. The real reason should be that I want to be the best mom I can be. One area of that for me is to be able to keep up with them. One day I hope to coach their teams and not just watch from the side lines. I want to play with them and not just supervise.
Running has started so many great conversations with my children all about being healthy and taking good care of our bodies. I am proud that I don’t just teach them in words but I also show them in action. If its not me putting them in the stroller and taking them for a run, then its the mommy work out group I am involved in or the finish line of my half marathon that shows them just how fun being active can be and how important it is to our daily lives.
These are all great things I have learned. Now since I have learned them doesn’t not mean that I am finished learning them or even mastered them. Every day I have to remind myself of them. I have to keep at it. It is hard. But I have found people in my life who have similar goals and who can motivate me. I have also found different activities that keep me motivated in my exercise. I found out just how much I love volleyball and play that once a week. I have joined a work out class once a week doing circuit training and that has been a highlight of my week.
I did it. I signed up for a 5 km. I realized I enjoy running short distances. So, I am going to try and beat my time and go as fast as I can. I enjoy the training for that. I am also signing up for a mini triathlon.
I wrote a bucket list for physical activity this year. My list includes mountains I want to hike, distances I want to bike, Lakes I want to swim in, water activities I want to try, physical goals such as how many push ups I want to do, chin ups, and even how long I want to hold the plank.
Challenge your self. You will see changes in both physically and mentally. Best part is that you are setting an awesome example for your children that you get to benefit from!