Last weekend I rekindled the flame with my first love. And no, I don’t mean Jon Bon Jovi, although he did tag along for a little bit, reminding me to keep the faith, that one day, I will feel like a normal person again. I’ve been struggling – big time – with my running lately, and as is bound to happen, the less I do it, the less I feel motivated to do it. Last Sunday morning was on course to be yet another opportunity to run squandered, blown off with a sigh and followed by wistful regret for the rest of the day. Instead, I laced up my shoes, grabbed my iPod – something I rarely do, but I knew I’d need a little extra help – and headed out the door. I returned home 7.5 miles later sweaty and feeling like I had a new lease on life. I had worked out a few stresses in my mind, and felt ready to tackle the rest of the day and be the best mom I could be. I believe in some circles they call that balance. I call it feeling normal again.
The problem with running lately isn’t so much that I haven’t had time. That’s only part of it… and a small part at that. I am fortunate to have a husband who not only supports my running, but who purposely makes himself available to take care of our little one precisely so that I can go running. So, claiming no time is a lame excuse. The bigger issue is that I have been more tired than I have ever been in all of my days. Some days, I am genuinely shocked at how tired I am. Some days – many days – I feel about as tired as after a fifty mile race, without the soreness, and all I can think is that this must be why many people have babies in their twenties, or even early thirties. I never was good at staying up late or pulling all-nighters, even in college, and being forced to do exactly that now for weeks on end has shown me that I am not a bit closer to becoming a night owl. The last thing I have wanted to do after being up most of the night is run. (Although, at the risk of jinxing myself, I dare say that Baby Girl seems to have turned a bit of a corner and we have all slept much better in the last few days.)
I would have been quite content – in practice, but not in theory – to allow my running shoes to continue collecting dust for the first time in nearly a decade until I stopped at the health station at the supermarket about a month ago to check my blood pressure. And while my blood pressure was low as usual, another number caught my attention: my weight. I knew from the fit of my clothes that there was a little bit more of me, but I hadn’t realized quite how much. Indeed, I had gained nine pounds since we brought Baby Girl home. Worse yet, I didn’t feel well. Something needed to change.
Inspired by a close friend who had recently committed to losing weight, I signed up for WeightWatchers. I needed to make some adjustments to my diet, and I knew that having a program to follow would help me with that. If you live in the U.S. and watched at least 15 minutes of network television during the holiday season, you most likely saw the commercials for WeightWatchers, endorsed by Oprah, looking happy and fab as usual. I’d had success with WeightWatchers in the past, when I had gained a few unwanted pounds ten years ago (the last time my running shoes collected dust), after having knee surgery. So, I thought I’d give it a try again. Their new Freestyle program has been great, and I’m happy to report that in the last four weeks, I am down five pounds and I feel so much better. I’ve been tracking what I eat and am slightly appalled at how much sugar I’d been eating before. The new and improved program even has a section specially dedicated to vegan eating. What more could I ask for?
In addition to making some much-needed changes to my diet, I also blew the dust bunnies off of my BodyBoss workout program book. The BodyBoss Method, headquartered in London, is a 12-week program of high intensity circuit training exercises. Again, I succumbed to advertising, this time on Facebook. I had actually bought the program (consisting of a book and an online guide) last summer in the hope of adding some cross training to help supplement and improve my running, but when Baby Girl arrived, that hope quickly went by the wayside. Not anymore. I just completed week four of the program and I feel stronger than I have in a really long time. What attracted me to the BodyBoss Method in the first place is that the exercises can be done just about anywhere, and they require very minimal equipment (and by “equipment” I mean a chair or some cans of soup). Most of the moves are done with one’s own body weight. Each circuit is seven minutes, and is repeated three times. These workouts are perfect for when Baby Girl is napping.
Some evenings, after Baby Girl goes to bed, I fight the tired voices in my head and make a quick trip to the gym for 20 minutes on the elliptical machine. It’s not much, but better than nothing, and I always feel better afterwards. “A short run is better than no run,” as my high school coach always said.
Finally, and most excitingly, I acquired the BOB Revolution. This, the Cadillac of running strollers, has changed my game. I can put Baby Girl in it and head out for some quality time together. I get my miles in, and she can get some fresh air and have a change of scenery. It’s a win-win. (Pushing a baby in a stroller while running – especially uphill – is not nearly as easy as it looks!)
So… back to my 7.5 miles last Sunday. I hadn’t planned on running that far. I had expected to feel lethargic, out of shape, and stiff. Much to my surprise, within about five minutes, I was cruising. I felt smooth, light on my feet, and comfortable. With the BodyBoss workouts under my belt, no stroller to push, and no dog to make frequent stops for (not that I don’t love running with Baby Girl and Frieda), I got into my mediation zone and remembered why I love this sport so much. I passed the turn-off to head home and continued on for a few extra miles, so grateful that I could take this time for myself doing what I love. I came back with the kind of runner’s high that I used to get in high school, feeling like I could run forever. It was the very thing I needed to renew my motivation… and timely, too, because I have a half marathon coming up in a few weeks that I’d registered for many months ago. Most of all, it’s what I needed to feel centered, and to feel like myself again.
Being a mom, I am learning, is hard. Really hard sometimes. I know there will be times when it will be even harder than it is now. It’s not always enchanting. But, there is nothing I’d rather be doing right now, and I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. Instead, I’ll rely on my old flame, as I have so many times in the past, to see me through. Running… my first love, my panacea.
Thank you for reading!