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I am a Mother Runner.

by | September 10, 2018

I’ll never forget the feeling of crossing the finish line of my first half marathon, the exhilaration, the emotion, the sheer exhaustion. It was empowering, I felt like superwoman and that I could tackle anything life throws at me. I was a mother runner. 

My goal of “just one-half marathon to see if I can do it” was changed to “I have to beat this time.” I was addicted. Soon I was a familiar face at all the local races, 5ks, 10ks, Half Marathons. I was in my element, I’d found my thing. I am a runner, a real runner.

Right, when I was in the thick of training for a really big race I discovered that I was pregnant. Oh my goodness this was wonderful news, I was so excited. Then it hit me, every runner’s worst fear, am I going to be able to keep running?

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Luckily for most women they can pretty much keep going along with their usual fitness regime, maybe slightly modified.

Not me, I. Was. EXHAUSTED. The only running I could manage was from my couch to the bathroom. I spent six months eating cake (so much cake, I don’t even like cake) and terrifying myself by watching every birth show TLC aired.

I dreamt of the day I could throw on my running shoes and pound the pavement. The mental struggle of not being able to run was more than I could take. Running was my therapy. I got depressed and I felt guilty about it. How could I feel so miserable when I was truly over the moon about the impending arrival of my little girl. My mindset had to be changed.

Be a Mother Runner and Run the mile you’re in.

The mile I was in wasn’t on a track, but it felt like a marathon. Exciting, scary, delirious, hungry. Full of every emotion from, I can do this to ‘ugh where’s the finish line?’ Pregnancy was my race and I had to cross that finish line before I could start another.

My daughter arrived via c-section and the recovery was tough. It took a few weeks before I could even walk properly.  Eventually, after a couple of months, my Dr. gave me the all clear to start running again, “take it easy” he said. It wasn’t really a choice, my body couldn’t move very fast anyway.

The excitement of knowing I could run again was intense, I was giddy. My partner gave me new running shoes and a Tom-Tom watch for Mother’s Day, I was all set. I squeezed into my way too small running clothes, I didn’t care that I looked like a marshmallow in spandex or that my boobs were wrapped up like a mummy in two sports bras. I was just so happy to get out there. I laced up my shoes and bounced happily out the door,” this is going to be so amazing, I’m a super strong awesome woman”. The joy soon faded when I realized that I might actually be faster walking. My legs just would not move. My incision site ached. My breasts leaked. Oh, why did I want to do this?  The motivation waned on my first run. “It’s ok Julie, 9 months out, 9 months back in, you can do this”. It took a few months but with each run, it got a little easier, I started to enjoy it again, most of the time. Some days were great others I made it to the end of the street and turned back around.

After, months of on and off running I decided I needed a little kick in the butt so I signed up for a race, a 5k. Soon I was a regular sight on the streets, running along with my princess in her stroller. The wind in my hair, my feet thumping to the beat of my favorite songs. I was back.

mother runner

I couldn’t sleep the night before because of the excitement, or was it fear? I’ll never forget the euphoric feeling of lining up at the start with my running buddies. We were going to own this race. Off we went, it wasn’t pretty, there were sweat, tears, and vomit. The finish line seemed like it would never come into view, and when it did. After, I became so emotional that I could hardly even breathe. With a burst of energy that came from nowhere, I did a leap over the last steel timing mat. I did it, it was just as I remembered it. I was a badass again, a bad ass mother runner. 

It took a couple of years to runners get back into my groove, eventually feeling strong enough to sign up for my first marathon. Philly here I come. The training was intense, it took a lot of time away from my family, but I just had to do it for myself. It was the best therapy though.

It was the coldest starting temperature on record that morning, but I didn’t care. Again there was sweat, tears, vomit and even blood (it’s ok, I had nine other toenails). There were moments where I found myself singing out loud to my favorite song with a big stupid smile on my face and times where I wanted to flip off the next person who told me I was almost there. The emotion of crossing that finish line was comparable to holding my baby for the first time. It was the most amazing feeling in the whole world. I was a marathoner, Oh My God, I’m never doing this again. The lies you tell yourself, I was signed up for my next race an hour later. I am a runner, a mother runner.

mother runner

Here are some tips from Women’s Running for getting back into the groove with your new body.


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Julie Nealon

Associate Editor, New York USA | Contactable via [email protected]

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