WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The runner’s high is a very real thing.
- A supportive spouse is a must-have.
“Every great journey begins with a single step,” –Confucius
I’ve never been an athlete, and especially not a runner. As a child, I would get nervous knots in my stomach in the weeks leading up to the Presidential Fitness test, knowing I’d be the last in my class to finish the mile run. Shortly after my daughter turned two, I decided I wanted to reclaim some semblance of balance in my life between parenting a toddler and whatever small sliver of energy I had left for everything else. Apparently the form that took, was the decision to run a half marathon. I tend to do things all the way.
I think I was motivated by a couple of things. I was Intrigued about the fabled runner’s high, and an avid runner friend who wrote about the benefits the hobby provided in her life. I also had a hope of losing the last stubborn ten pounds of baby weight I’d gained in pregnancy and generally being a sucker for the latest fitness fad. Running always had the ultimate cache in my mind. It was hard. Runners seemed a separate class of humans, viewed as super-athletes among the general population.
I hadn’t exercised in two years and never successfully ran a mile. A small part of me feared announcing to the world my intention of running a half marathon in fear I’d chicken out, but I decided to do it anyway, to force myself to follow through. And eight months later, I did.
My learnings about completing a long-distance race as a full-time working mom with a small child?
- The runner’s high is a very real thing that I’ve felt with no other sport. Running is a total body experience. It was so damn hard that I felt like I could move mountains by the time I had finished. Suddenly, the challenges in my life felt surmountable.
- A supportive spouse is a must-have. My husband was my steadfast cheerleader.
- The training was easy at first but became very challenging to fit in as my mileage increased. Running two or three miles only took a half hour, but as my miles increased to eight, my runs became several hours long. I couldn’t bring myself to spend two hours away from my child after I’d been away from her all day at work. This was my greatest challenge, and the reason I wasn’t able to complete a full training regimen. As a result, miles 9 and on were very painful on race day.
- I didn’t lose weight. The fact is, running long distances and continuing to breastfeed my child past her second birthday placed enormous calorie demands on my body. My appetite increased to compensate. I didn’t care.
- The feeling of finishing the race was exhilarating. I’ve felt that proud about few things.
My takeaway? I developed a great new hobby, but long distance running will be reserved for a future stage of my life. For now I’ll stick with a themed 5k or jog to the park with my daughter.