"Running is a punishment"
For many of you that played sports growing up, your particular sport may have had "punishments" for screwing up, being late, or conditioning. And, I'm willing to guess that punishment was to run. The dreaded words, "get on the line" 🙃 still kind of make me nervous, to this day. I never just wanted to go out for a run. Why would I want to be bored, mindlessly doing something, while getting hot and sweaty!? Little did I know how incredible and intricate to my existance this hobby would become!
Fast forward like 7 years and I got married. Now, my husband, whether you know him personally or not can probably tell that he is a pretty fit guy. He was a college athlete and was always working to be in the best physical shape he could be. We enjoyed watching and playing sports together and were always very active, biking, playing raquetball, basketball, etc. Then, one day he started going out for a run. Then, it turned into running 3-4 days a week! I was like, "yeah, you go have fun with that, I'll stay home and clean, read, etc." Occasionally, I would ride my bike with him, for company, but more often than not, I wouldn't. Then, after awhile, I stayed home while he ran, to take care of our infant daugther...
I found that I wasn't ever really getting away. I love(d) my daughter so incredibly much and didn't want to miss a moment when I got home from work, and I felt incredibly guilty for doing things for myself. I started to envy my husband and his hobbies/interests that he had. He would go fishing or work in the garage on his motorcycle. He had hobbies, things that made him happy and they were HIS. My hobbies were taking care of our daughter. I didn't really have ANYTHING I enjoyed doing, for myself. I would get frustrated about the lack of guilt he seemed to exhibit when he would drop her off at the Y for two hours to work out. I didn't understand! How could he miss any of the precious moments with her? (Mom guilt is so real!) How could he not feel bad? I would question him and *almost* shame him about leaving her for the time and he would always say, "I need to workout. I need to do this for my job, and for me." Me... someone who I had to find again post baby and marriage.
So, it started with the jogging stroller. I demanded to push our daughter in the stroller. It was my duty. She was my pride and joy. This was more of that mom guilt! I felt like I HAD to do it, I couldn't just let go. (Fast forward to now, we do rock, paper, scissors for who HAS to push the double jogging stroller). My husband, daughter, and I would set out for a run and he would run along side me until I could no longer keep up and I would force him go on his own. I would guess those days I was running a 13-15 minute mile. I was miserable. Not only did I HATE running, but I HATE being bad at things. The fact I couldn't keep up with him and didn't enjoy what I was doing really made it hard for me to go out and keep running. So, I would run every now and then with him and our daughter and really was "just along for the ride". Running during this part of my life was more a chore and a way to connect with my husband than it was a way to bring sanity and happiness to my life.
Fast forward about six months, I was still eating like I was "eating for two" (in my defense I was still nursing-the hunger never stops!), and still without a hobby, for me. However, I was beginning to not like how I looked and felt, about myself. I wasn't fitting into dresses and clothes like I use to and got into a funk. Self-care for a new mom is SO HARD. SO SO HARD! At the time, I taught middle schoolers and comments were made (naively) by students, asking if I was pregnant again (NO, Karen, I just cooked a baby in here for 9 months, it's going to take a while to get this weight off!). But, it still bothered me. I needed something. I needed a hobby. I needed something that I could do to put myself first and make myself a priority. My husband was SO supportive encouraging me to go out and find something I liked to do. He never once doubted my beauty, inside or out, but certainly wanted to help me find it.
So, with his support (and continous pushing) I finally decided I wanted to do something about my lack of self value and self confidence. I decided I would go out for a run... by myself. I left my house that afternoon a worn out mother/wife with a lot of self- driven guilt and a mind going a mile a minute. The run was hard. It was slow. But... it was good. It was SO GOOD! I ran myself to the point where my mind slowed down and I focused on keeping my body going and moving. I focused on the task at hand. Not the dishes that needed done, not my daughter crying because she was hungry (again). I focused on me and how I was going to run and I was going to keep running until I got home. I had those running endorphins I NEEDED. I had a runner's high! I returned to my house a different person. I wasn't tired, I was REJUVENATED. I decided that day that I wasn't just going to be a wife and a mother, but I was going to be a RUNNER! I was going to do it FOR ME.
I decided the next day I was going to really work to make sure that I stopped feeling *too* guilty about taking that time for myself. I mean, I earned it! I deserved it! Running was something I could do by myself, but I could also do it with my daughter in tow, if timing was an issue-or if some mom guilt reared its ugly head. Speed wasn't important. Distance wasn't important. Getting out there and running, for me, was important.
I found that what used to be a form punishment turned into a place of peace and sanity.
I decided my mental and physical health were important and if I wasn't healthy or happy, I couldn't be the best me. I couldn't be the best wife or the best mother, unless I was the best me.
So, if you are struggling to find something for you, maybe running could be it? It helped me be "me" again.
Send me an email (email@example.com) or send me a message on instagram (@happy.miles.mommy) and I'd be more than happy to talk to you about my experiences and help you make running a part of your life, as well!