A Return to Running.

One of the most taxing aspects of single-parenting is the lack of time. It dawned on me recently that I almost always feel like I’m running behind- if not with schoolwork, then with laundry or dishes or keeping the car/rooms/house/kids/myself clean…it seems like there’s always something else to do, something that I want to get done that should have been done the day/week before. It is so, so easy to dig out excuses for why I “can’t” get back to a regular running schedule. Two weeks ago, I finally took all of my excuses, mentally balled them up in a fist, and chucked them into the garbage.

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The hard truth is this: exercise is as important as eating well. I can’t in good conscious spread the vegan word and encourage people to make healthier food choices, and then ignore the other, equally as important aspect of healthy living. Also, I truly love running. Not necessarily when I’m doing it, but always, ALWAYS after I finish. I missed it, and I didn’t even know how much until I got back to it.

After I had Carolyn I was on and off running a few miles around my neighborhood, but I had a terrible time staying consistent. I blamed my lack of time, but the truth is that I wasn’t making it a priority. I carve out time to go to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, and the farmers markets and farms- even though we have THREE chain supermarkets less than three miles from our house- because I believe that eating well means living well. I am working on applying the same theory to my running- setting aside the necessary time because it paves the way to a better life for myself.

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So far, success! Yes, it means getting up a little earlier, moving my body when I just want to lay down, and braving the cold instead of staying in a nice, warm house. However….none of those comforts vanish while I’m out on my run, and let me tell you there is NOTHING better than coming home after a long morning run in the cold to a warm house and a giant breakfast, knowing that the extra calories have already been made up for.

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I’ve been in the car with the kids and suddenly realized that we’re only halfway through our day, and I’ve already gotten my workout in. Best. Feeling. Ever. I also have a lot more energy. It’s difficult to convince people of this, but once you get into a regular fitness routine, even though you’re expending more energy overall, your energy levels actually go up. I have also noticed my mood improving, and my anxiety easing. My head feels clearer, and I am likely to move more throughout the day because the hardest work has already been done.

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So cold!

I knew all of this would happen- I am familiar with the positive effects that regular exercise has, and was itching to get that back in my life. It is so, so good.

I have also been mapping out different routes in the area, and scheduling runs on specific days based on distance and the amount of time I have to dedicate to running. For example, Wednesday is the first day of classes, and I have three spread throughout the day with two or three-hour breaks in between. I could go for one long run, but with so many other things to keep track of, it’s easier for me to incorporate my run into the schedule I’m already adhering to. Enter: running to school!

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The distance from my house to campus is exactly 3.1 miles (a 5k), so it’s a great way for me to get some mileage. Also, if I run home (and I will run home), that’s 6.2 miles- a really solid distance.

I have one long run that I’m going to try to squeeze in twice a month. It’s a gorgeous route along the towpath, and it takes me from Yardley to Morrisville and back. I am a big fan of out-and-backs, for obvious reasons: once I hit Morrisville, I have to get back to my car in Yardley. It literally forces me to go the distance. If I’m running around Newtown, it’s easy to cut it short by a few blocks and swing back home, but running out and back guarantees I’ll log the miles I set out to run.

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It’s just over 7 miles, which is a trek- definitely not a Wednesday run, but it has serious potential as a Sunday evening run, especially in the warmer months. Also, it’s absolutely stunning, with river views the entire way. Winning!

Finally, I have a really basic, homey run that I’ve been doing when I don’t need to get to school and just want to log a few quick miles in the morning.

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Three miles through Newtown! It’s a lovely route, and if I want to add mileage I can zig-zag through the Borough. This is what I’ve been running most days because it’s easy, quick, and right outside my front door. It can be a bit hilly, especially on Edgeboro and Merion (my street), but I’m usually running up one and down the other, so it’s not too bad.

I’ve been trying to incorporate some other activities in addition to running. I have my yoga app, along with my Blossom class card. I also have the NYC Ballet DVDs and a Barre3 membership. Most importantly, I have my body, which in the end is all I really need to get a solid workout in. There is so much you can do without any extra equipment or videos, and I actually think it’s better to begin a fitness routine simply, without all the fluff. I believe it gives you a better idea of what your body is capable of independently, which will build a strong base for any fitness goals you set for yourself. When all else fails, mountain climbers will give you the workout of a lifetime. I’ve been throwing in a session before each run, and it is something else.

I don’t think I can emphasize the difference regular running makes in my overall health and quality of life. It also gives me some much-needed time to myself, to let my head clear, to move my body and get my endorphins pumping. It conditions me mentally, to keep pushing even when things seem challenging or downright impossible. The positive effects carry over into every area of my life. That is why I run. It is so good to be back 🙂

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