Wednesday, February 10, 2010

on activity, exercise & fitness, part 2

When Miss Rose was around a year old, my sister started jogging at a nearby lake (not a true lake...man-made).  The paved path does not circle the entire lake, but you can do a total of 6+ miles if you go to the end and back.  My sister talked me into coming with her one afternoon.

At that point I had a great dislike of running.  I used to always say it was my least favorite form of exercise.  Rollerblading and the elliptical were my workouts of choice.  Running just wasn't smooth.  I had very curly hair in junior high and high school and guys used to love to tease me for how it bounced when I ran.

But I decided to give it a try, for my sister's sake.  I remember that first run well.  I told her I didn't know how far I'd make it before I had to start walking.  I would guess that we were jogging at a 11-12 minute pace, which is on the slower side.  I completely shocked myself, and was able to run an entire mile before I needed to walk.

It was exhilarating.  Much further and longer than I anticipated.  And it felt good.  It was challenging, and I like a challenge.  If I could do one mile, surely it wouldn't be hard to work up to two or three.  So I started running more, and so did Bean.  Often my mom would come with us and walk with Miss Rose in the stroller while we ran.  Then I got a jogging stroller.

And like that, an addict was born.  Running is now my happy place.  It's something I do just for me.  There is nothing like the achievement of running x miles in a day or a week or a month.  I am the only one who can run for me.  I also loved that it was an exercise I could do with my children. I didn't have to find childcare or pay for a gym membership.  In my city, we have running weather about 80% of the year.  A good double jogger was my most important purchase after the birth of Gracie.  (craigslist of course!)

Running helped me drop several more pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight with Miss Rose.  I ran my first half marathon.   I ran up until 32 weeks of pregnancy with Gracie.  Even with a c-section, I was back to walking at 4 weeks post-partum and starting jogging and walking by 6 wks post-partum.  Again, running helped me lose more weight than I gained.  I ran my second half marathon when Gracie was 6 months old.

I ran until 35 weeks with Lily (and delivered her at 37 weeks).  Starting up again, not so easy with three kids.  I had great intentions.  Miss Rose was in school 5 mornings a week.  We now lived in a neighborhood I could run in.  But finding the time, energy and motivation to run while raising three small children and working has been challenging. 

In the last year I've probably averaged 2 runs a week.  Which isn't terrible, but isn't great either.  I've found myself in cyles where I'm frustrated, and even slightly depressed at my lack of exercise, which instead of spurring me to make time to exercise, only makes me more lethargic.  It's a place I never imagined myself after 3 years of running through pregnancies and life.  (I did run another half marathon when Lily was 8 months old).

Bean understands my need to run and is very supportive.  He encourages me to get out and run.  I deal with guilt on workdays.  I want to be with the kids instead of run.  But there is no doubt that even 30 minutes of running benefits me which in turn benefits the kids, far more than a endorphin-deprived mom who spends 30 more minutes with them that day.

I also crave long runs (right now, long for me is more than 4 miles).  So if I only have 30 minutes to run, I'll skip it, because it doesn't meet my desire.  Now after a year of this up and down relationship with running, I'm starting to get back into a groove.  It's helped that Bean has been making running more of a priority himself.  So we encourage and support one another.  We figure out how to make sure each other gets runs in.

I've been pushing myself more, especially during those 30 minute runs.  I've been at a 10-10:30min pace for a few years now.  The last two months I've been pushing harder and I've finally broken that magical (for me) 10minute pace.  I can run 3 miles in less than 30min now.  In fact, on Sunday before the Super Bowl I ran 3 miles in 26:20 and continued on for a total of 3.45miles in 30min.  A new personal best for me.

It's been a journey, but a love of fitness has grown in me.  I feel better physically, I'm more self-confident when I'm running.  I sleep better and don't have as much stress and anxiety.  I still need to continue to make it a priority.

In some ways, exercise is the easy part.  That's probably why I don't gain weight, even with some of my poor eating habits.  For me though, that's not enough.  I want to be a fit person.  I want to have healthy eating habits.  I need the best of both worlds.

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