As an introverted mom of three kids, I know what it means to need alone time. As a long-time anxiety sufferer and lover of nature, I know what it means to need a stress outlet outside of the home. I have been running on and off since high school, but the balance between responsibility and recreation is a bit trickier these days. If you have ever caught yourself saying “I wish I could run”, or “I need to get back to running”, this post is for you. Below you will find 5 tips to start running again, or get out there for the first time.
Tip 1: Pace Yourself
This may be one of the most important pieces of advice I have ever given or received as a runner. I just completed my second half marathon, and took my pacing very seriously during my training and race. Before I started the half marathon, I overheard an experienced marathoner tell her group to pace themselves and conserve their energy. I decided to take her advice, paid careful attention to my time, and finished much stronger and faster than I typically do on my runs. If you start too hard or too fast, you will burn out quickly. Start at a pace that is comfortable to have a conversation with someone while running (this will be different for everyone), and go from there.
I also recommend getting an Apple Watch to track your progress, or downloading a running app like Runtastic or RunKeeper. Your pace should be consistent regardless of whether you are running two or ten miles. In order for running to remain enjoyable over a long distance, proper pacing is necessary. Just remember: In life and in running, things take time.
Tip 2: Work with a Chiropractor
This is a tip I never would have understood prior to becoming a mom. Now that I have had three kids, it is one of my biggest recommendations to fellow runners (even my non-mom friends). But for the sake of this article, I am speaking to mother runners everywhere. When we get pregnant and give birth, hormones do crazy things to our bodies. In my case, I now have flat feet, angry knees, and carry way too much tension in my upper body from breastfeeding and bad posture.
Seeing my chiropractor once or twice per week when I am running a lot has both prevented and cured specific injuries I have gotten along the way. They have referred me to my primary care physician for specific issues, made running shoe recommendations, and coached me on how much rest time was needed for certain aches and pains. I saw them two days after my half marathon when I was unable to walk down the stairs due to intense tightness in my quads. A few adjustments and some acupuncture needles later, and I was ready to get back out there.
Tip 3: A good running shoe makes all the difference
I used to have beautiful ballerina arches and could wear any shoe, anywhere. Now thanks to pregnancy hormones and too much time in flip-flops, I bear the burden of flat feet. This might not sound like a huge deal, but it is quite painful when it goes unnoticed and untreated. If you are prone to soreness in specific parts of your body, sometimes a running shoe off the clearance rack simply won’t do. This is where a running store comes in handy.
The purpose of a running store
Thankfully, there are a ton of running stores in the area. I live in Silver Spring, so my go-to store is Roadrunners in Rockville. There are plenty of stores like this in the DC area, such as Fleet Feet, Pacers, and Georgetown Running Company. During your appointment, you will be paired with an employee who will ask questions about your running frequency, any specific needs, and what kind of shoes you typically run in. They will watch you walk or run on a treadmill and use state-of-the-art technology to educate you on your running tendencies. This will help them point you towards the right running shoe for you.
Tip 4: Be intentional with your running time
As moms, we have a lot on our plates. Now that school is back in session, it can be difficult to balance our kids’ school schedules with work, our spouse’s schedule, and life in general. Throw in a workout routine and sometimes it doesn’t feel possible. My husband and I are both training for a half marathon in November, so we have had to be really intentional about scheduling our running time. We sit down at the beginning of the week and decide which days will be best for each of us to accomplish our running goals. (Running a race is an excellent way to get yourself motivated to run, by the way.)
One thing that is really important for me as an introvert who needs but doesn’t always get alone time, is to make sure that my running time is as enjoyable as possible. For me, this means I feel good in my clothes, have a route chosen, and have a wide array of enjoyable things to listen to while I am out. Sometimes this is a podcast; other times I listen to an audiobook; often, I listen to my favorite Spotify playlist entitled “Girl Power”, featuring hits from the 90’s and 2000’s. I also never run on a treadmill because I crave time in nature and find that when I come back from an outdoor run, I have a lot more energy to give my family.
Tip 5: Have fun
My last piece of advice is simply this: There are lots of ways to make running enjoyable including signing up for a race, running with others, and filling your brain with interesting things while you feed it endorphins. But if you try running and there is absolutely nothing you can do to get yourself to like it, you don’t have to do it. Ultimately, our time as moms is limited and we should use our recreational time to do things that fill us, not drain us.