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After having my baby a year and a half ago I began to develop the desire to regain command over my body. I have always lead an active life with dancing, walking, Pilates, horse ridding, swimming and the general rushing around that consumes most of my day but I had never really run. I had tried to run several times and after a week concluded that running was just not for me. I always blamed my "bad" knees and said I was not made to run.

When my little boy was three months old I took a conditioning class. This conditioning class exposed me to the importance of cardiovascular conditioning; training that elevates the rate of the heart for a prolonged time. My class challenged me to be involved in at least three cardio work outs for 20 minutes or more each week. My situation didn't allow me to visit a gym or to take a class so my running shoes were given another chance. Running seemed like the perfect solution, I could run outside in the beautiful weather while pushing my little boy in a stroller.

The first time I ran I felt pathetic and humiliated. It seemed like the every person, tree and flower was snarling and laughing at my slow pace and sweaty face. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I laced my shoes and pushed my baby around the neighborhood in a sluggish fashion. I used to hate the feeling of transitioning from a run to a walk. It would feel as though my heart was ready to explode and that my ribcage might collapse. Thankfully with every run I felt a little stronger, suddenly a mile didn't seem so daunting and suddenly I began to enjoy it. Instead of dragging myself out the door I began to look forward to the mornings I would run. My thoughts drifted from focusing on when the run might end to recognizing the beautiful houses and people I passed.

Then one day I could breathe. It was the most exhilarating feeling. No longer did I feel a slave to my shallow panting. Now my lungs were smoothly expanding and contracting, my heart was pumping blood with a powerful force it felt great and I felt wonderful.

I have been running three or more times a week for 14 months and recommend it to everyone. I not only lost all my baby weight I now have a stronger and healthier heart. I have more energy to run around with my 18 month old, make dinner, go to school and work. Four months ago my friend and I trained and ran a half marathon, 13.1 miles. It was amazing; I never thought I could have achieved that, especially being a mother. Now running has become my release and escape from my daily challenges. I love the feeling of my heart quickly beating within me. Running has taught me that you don't have to be fast to experience the great health benefits you just have to do it. Running is a part of my lifestyle and I LOVE it.



By Jessica Carney
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