Be Balanced: Running Will Cure What Ails You
At the beginning of my pregnancy, I was terrified to run. There was no reason to be scared – the current recommendation is that pregnant women should continue at the level of exercise they were used to before becoming pregnant, unless their provider advises them otherwise – but I was scared nonetheless. By about eight weeks, I knew that I would lose my mind if I went seven plus more months without running.
I was uber-cautious at first, running only a quarter mile at a time, but I quickly worked my way back up to an easy two or three miles. The last time I ran was on Thanksgiving Day, in a massive 5K that is one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions. I was about 24 weeks pregnant at the time and planned for that 5K to be my last hurrah, because I was getting slower and slower, my feet were aching non-stop, and I could tell that my body was generally not pleased with me. After Thanksgiving, I switched to yoga and walking with the occasional interlude on the elliptical, but boy, do I miss running.
I love the way running gets your heart pumping, the way it can be meditative, its’ simplicity, and how, like nothing else I’ve ever encountered, it can make you feel like an absolute badass. In so many ways, running has the power to restore a sense of balance to your life.
Feeling like a couch potato? Lace up those shoes and get out the door!
I know many people who say they aren’t runners, but it’s always worth trying something new – or rediscovering something you haven’t done in a while. The Couch to 5K program, available as an app or through a quick Google search, makes it easy to get started. I’ve used it myself a few times when I’ve taken an extended break from running and needed to get back into the swing of things. One good habit leads to another, and a quick walk or run will do wonders for pulling you out of a physical or mental slump.
Speaking of which, running is good for your soul. Especially on a crisp fall day, there is nothing like getting outside and just taking in the beauty of the world around you. We are especially fortunate in this area to have trails like the Junction & Breakwater Trail, which is picturesque in the fall and blessedly cool in the summer. There are so many ways to feed your soul and running has always been a personal favorite.
If you’re craving simplicity, running is your sport. What other form of fitness is there that requires weather-appropriate clothing, a pair of shoes, and that’s it? You can squeeze in a run just about any time. Getting your car serviced or have an awkward hour to kill while your kids are at soccer practice? Take that time and go for a run.
The flexibility running offers means you can also take it with you anywhere. There’s no need to find a gym close by when you’re traveling, so you can reasonably keep up a workout routine no matter where you are. (Although if you happen to go for a run in a foreign country, be prepared to get some looks – apparently “going for a run” is a very American thing.) Running is also a fun way to explore a new area.
In need of some social time? I’ve had some of the best conversations of my life while on a long run with a fried. There’s something about running that really makes people open up and share with each other. Runners are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, and running, while it can be done solo, is also very much a social activity. I moved around a lot in my 20s, and one of the first things I always did when I was in a new city (or heck, on a different side of the same city) was look for a running club. Runners in running clubs don’t just run together, they often go out for breakfast or a beer afterwards!
Lastly, running just makes you feel cool as hell. It’s not necessarily the physical changes – although I never complain when I start to notice myself looking more fit after a period of consistent running – it’s more the feeling of accomplishment that comes with running. It’s hard, mentally and physically, so completing a run, or better, slaying a run, brings an immense feeling of pride and a sense of appreciation, respect, and awe for what your body can do. And if you complete/slay said run in a super fly pair of leggings, even better.
As a long-time runner who has run with varying degrees of intensity and enthusiasm, there is one thing I’m sure of: there isn’t much that a run can’t fix, balance out, or at least help you work through. The second I get the all-clear from my doctor, I will be re-downloading that Couch to 5K app and making it a point to get a run in a few times a week. Hopefully, I’ll be ready for a half marathon this fall!