I have never been a runner. My physical skills are extensive and I excel at many things, but running is not one them. In fact, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less than run. Except write high school math exams, that’s probably the only thing worse than literally pounding the pavement with my well-cushioned heels.
Running is a fitness activity I was forced into. As a new mom all of my favourite activities were cancelled out due to either their lack of kid-friendly practicality or lack of time. Snowboarding? Out. Kayaking? Definitely not feasible. Rock climbing and rappelling? Very out. What about dancing? Well some kinds of dancing might be doable with baby in tow. How about breakdancing? Umm, no.
“There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.”
– Jerry Seinfeld
You might be wondering about yoga. It sounds so dreamy and perfect, doesn’t it? What could be a better bonding experience than breathing slowly and performing deep, restorative poses with your child? Well, pretty much anything would be better . You see, as a basic formula, any activity that involves children becomes all about the children at the expense of the parent’s sanity and well-being. If you’ve ever witnessed a mom & baby yoga class you’ll notice there’s not much yoga actually going on, it’s more of an exercise in frustration as each mom frantically tries to stop her own child from wailing louder than the eight other babies in the room. It’s not fun, it’s not relaxing and it’s not really the kind of exercise I needed.
There was only one thing left; running.
The Pros of Running
It’s cheap, it can be done at any hour of the day, it doesn’t require a lot of time or a special place in which to do it. And, it can be done with a child lovingly restrained in a 5-point harness, if need be. It’s too bad I’m so lousy at it.
The Cons of Running
Of course, there is only one way to get better at something… practice. It’s degrading that one has suck so badly at something before there is any semblance of accomplishment. This characteristic of learning is so disheartening it prevents many of us from achieving greatness or completing a 5K in less than 30 minutes. Something I have yet to do.
The strange thing is, I’m starting to like it. I feel an itch to lace up my Brooks if I haven’t run in a couple of days. Hell, my legs look better and that’s a big motivator right there. I don’t care if I ever win a medal or even a participation t-shirt so long as my legs look like they could whip some ass on the track.
“Man imposes his own limitations, don’t set any”
This past weekend I discovered a little secret about running, or about any awful activity, really. Even if it’s hard, even if it means some kind of suffering, approach it as though it’s only for fun. If I tell myself this is going to be the run in which I break my own records and move up to the next level, I can’t bring myself to leave the cushy sofa where I bask in the blue glow of my MacBook.
However, if I tell myself to get my sports bra and shorts on to go for a pleasure run (a contradiction, I know) going out into the world to inflict pain upon myself is no big deal. Once I’m out on the road, putting in my kilometers however long it takes, I find my body pushing me to try harder, to run faster, to ignore the weakness in my legs and the sting of side stitch. My sunglasses slide down my greasy nose and sweat soaks my tank top, but I don’t care. Until I get home and realize I’m melting and I have to stick my head in the freezer.
The thing you dread might not be running, it might be something else. Whatever it is, just do it for fun next time. I can’t promise you amazing results but surely it’s better than the alternative.