After having my baby 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 but always failed. It was the same scenario; over excitement lead to over exerting myself (injury) equating to an overwhelming feeling of failure. It only ever lasted a week! I used to say running was just not for me. I always blamed my "bad" knees and said I was not made to run. Now, perhaps this is the case for a select few individuals but I firmly believe the excuse "running is not for me" or "I was not made for running" is used too often and for many is purely an excuse.
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. At the time I involved in yoga and dance but neither offered an aerobic workout. 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.
I had no idea of the journey ahead of me.
So it was me, my son and the huge bulky 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. Imagine this me, my son and a huge bulky stroller, that's right not fancy jogging stroller. I shuffled. The aim was to go for a minute. A minute grew to five and then to ten and then I did a mile, a whole mile without stopping! My clothes were stuck to me with sweat, my hair was dripping but I shuffled an entire mile. What a success!
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. But then I found a friend. Having a shuffling companion made everything easier; we relied on each other and depended on each other. Before we knew it we were doing two miles, then three. Thankfully with every run I felt a little stronger and suddenly I began to enjoy it; imagine that! Instead of dragging myself out the door I began to look forward to the mornings I would run. The days I didn't run I felt gross and tired but days I worked my body it felt glorious, I felt glorious! Yes, exercise fuels the body, you have heard of endorphins? Endorphins make you feel good and are created as a result of exercise, well it is not just a made up fact it is true and it has changed my attitude. †
A pivotal point in my running experience was when I could breathe. Of course I was breathing all the time but after some time I could breathe with ease. That's right no more huffing and puffing. I had created a rhythm of my own, it allowed me to work hard, talk and be fully aware of all my surroundings. 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 still sweat (actually I am the sweatiest person I know you should see me after Aerobics) I still run slowly and compared to fancy fast runners I still look pathetic but I CAN run. I can run for 2 hours! To me that's amazing!
I have been running three or more times a week for 2 years now and recommend it to everyone. It is cheap, easy and a great cardiovascular workout. 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 little boy, make dinner, and go to school and work. Last year my friend and I trained and ran a half marathon, 13.1 miles and I did it again last week. 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 powerfully 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.
The best piece of advice I would give to someone who wants to run for the first time or get back into running is: take it easy and find a friend to join you. Your only competitor in running is the voice in your head telling you to stop; overcome that and you win the race!
Running is a part of my lifestyle and I LOVE it.†