I’m a runner. I can say that now.
But if you would have told me ten years ago that I was going to complete my first half marathon at the ripe age of 38, I would have laughed—heartily. I’m not the athletic type!
In spite of this, running has become a way for me to have time to myself, lose some mommy blues, connect with my body, select running buddies, and maybe shed a few pounds as well.
I was introduced to running by my own mother.
She found a third career in life as a personal trainer and fitness instructor in her late 50s. I was one of my mother’s first clients, and we began jogging before our workouts as a warm up.
In those days, I had no clue as to why anyone would enjoy this. What’s more, I was lagging behind my 60-year-old mother who had a nice, even stride while I sputtered along behind her stopping for frequent walk breaks. Initially, this was beyond frustrating. But as I soldiered on, something strange began to happen. By golly, I found that I rather enjoyed it!
So, I set a goal for myself.
I just wanted to be able to run 1 or 2 miles with only short pauses…and keep up with my mom! I reached that goal and then the next, which was to get to 3 miles and be able to run a 5K and enjoy it. Having done that with diligent training, I became a believer. I ran a couple more 5Ks after my first. Then, I ran Richmond’s Monument Ave 10K and Half Marathon in the same year.
While running doesn’t have to be about setting distance goals, they’re the great motivators for me.
Running helps me set attainable goals that help me feel good about myself. I believe it can do the same for many of us.
For many, the reasons for casual running or jogging are varied. Some folks just like to be out enjoying the fresh air. Some enjoy the fact that you can run for fitness at virtually no cost financially. The most important thing to note is that no matter your initial reasons or fitness levels, running, without a doubt, has benefits.
My Top Five Reasons to Start Running Now
- Free Mommy Time
Carving out time for yourself isn’t easy. And you need it, mama! You need it to alleviate stress. You need it to maintain a healthy lifestyle. And you need it to reconnect with yourself. Running is, dare I say it, an easy way to do this regularly. All you need are the road, your legs, and your running shoes. You can go running whenever and just about wherever. Richmond’s scenic beauty is an added incentive and provides wonderful spaces to commune with nature and explore different neighborhoods and trails.
- It Feels Great
No, really It does! Maybe not at first. And maybe not at about mile 9 of that half marathon you signed up for. But afterward, you are so invigorated. Your endorphins and self-esteem are high. You are confident and ready to take on whatever comes your way. Even if you don’t train for a running event, much pleasure can be found in running just for exercise.
- Meeting Other People
Getting out of the house to meet other mommies, or anyone unrelated, or anyone who’s not a coworker can be difficult. Hooking up with RVA’s awesome community of runners, most of whom are the friendliest folks around, is a fantastic way to meet other people. And these people will also help hold you accountable to your new commitment to self. Also, once you get to the point where you can run and talk, these wonderful people can become springboards for your thoughts. In other words, free therapy!
- Your Legs Will Look Fantastic
This may be an incentive for a select few of us, but man, it sure helps to keep me motivated. I enjoy the way I look and feel in a pair of jeans or leggings after training for a running event or just keeping up with casual runs.
- Your Kids
They benefit from any stress relief that you are able to give yourself. Not only that, but they look up to you. And once they see that you’ve committed to running (or any type of activity that gets you moving), it will set the tone for them as well. When they’re old enough, they can even join you! If you set a goal for yourself such as running a race or a fun run, they’ll look forward to rooting for you and to seeing their mama accomplish a healthy goal.
Bonus reason: The Swag!
T-shirts, medals, hats, and other swag align with your sense of accomplishment after completing a running event. If you’re highly motivated by collecting these types of things (we won’t mention my eclectic range of baseball caps, t-shirts, and tote bags from all kinds of events), running events are chock full of them!
Convinced? Great! How do you get started? Read these words:
How to Become a Runner: Go for a Run!
I saw this on a meme once, and it really is this simple. Just get out there and go!
Here are some final tips:
- Find a good pair of running shoes and maybe some wicking athletic clothing that dries quickly. But most importantly, find clothes that feel good when you work out. A good running store like Lucky Foot at Willow Lawn or Road Runner in Carytown will have folks there that are happy to help you get started on gear.
- If you’d like a tech-savvy approach to getting started, there are cool apps such as Runkeeper or Couch to 5K that will get you going on your first runs.
- Prefer to try it out solo? Go for it. But there’s nothing like finding a training team, running group, or partner. Other runners will help you reach your goals and make great companions out on the trails.
- Signing up for running groups or training teams through either of the running stores mentioned (or at www.sportsbackers.org) are also great ways to get started. There are running meet up groups all over town. A quick Google or Facebook search will point you in the right direction.