If you told me a year ago I’d be running three miles a day pushing a jogging stroller without an outside force (read being chased by someone with heavy weaponry) I’d have told you you were living in a fantasy world, and not one I wanted to spend any time in. Even the promise of beer and wine at the end of themed 5Ks couldn’t lure me. And for those who’ve met me at least once, you know my love of wine runs deep (no pun intended).
It’s not that I didn’t want to run. I loved the idea of being able to burn a butt ton of calories, while getting a great workout in just about anywhere. I was intrigued by the burgeoning social aspect of it all, what with runners clubs and 5Ks for every non-profit and fun-seeking weekend warrior popping up all over. But I was also well aware that the bottom picture of the meme above was a far truer depiction of me trying to bang out even a mile. See I worked out for years for one reason: to keep my Italian curves and propensity to gain weight by merely looking at a simple carb at bay. And the thing about running is, it’s HARD.
At least it’s hard for those of us who aren’t genetically predisposed for athleticism. It uses every muscle in the legs, your core, and your upper body strength for stability. (I’m no expert here, I’m just pulling from my experience really). I’ve often considered myself to be in decent shape (sans that Freshman 50. No really, but that’s a different post and story). I’ve worked out regularly since 14, but it wasn’t until I began HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) that I found myself in good shape all over, not just lower body and core, and thus taking on a whole new outlook on fitness and, gasp, running.
I began HIIT workouts after I had E. I was determined to loose the baby weight, but as she was a demanding infant, placing her in childcare at the gym just wasn’t fair to the ladies working there. So I turned to at-home workouts, where I discovered Cassie Ho and Blogilates.com. A variety of free workouts I could do at any time of day, from Pilates to cardio and HIIT, all designed to be done in a small space. Yes, yes and yes. But the HIIT is where it all changed for me.
I didn’t just feel like I had worked off some extra calories and kept the booty at bay, I felt strong. Really strong. I had upper body strength, a strong core, and could do planks and squats all day. 100 burpee challenge? Done. Fully engrossed in HIIT workouts and Pilates I decided on a whim to give a one mile jog a try, stroller and all. (Yes, as a non-runner I bought a running stroller. It’s really easy to fold and maneuvers well. And it’s on-trend.)
In a shocking turn of events, I could run. I ran a mile non-stop. Clearly, those of you who pound out 10 miles a day, probably not impressed with my inaugural one mile jog, but for me, this was big. And it felt really good. I liked it. My upper body didn’t ache, I wasn’t out of breath and I wanted to do it again the next day. So I did. And the day after that. And so on and so forth. When we moved to VA we started regular family runs. (Jer has been a runner since I’ve known him) “Who are we?” I often ask Jer mid-run on a Saturday morning. “We used to make fun of people like us.”
To be clear, I’m not about to sign up for a marathon, or even a half, but I foresee a 10 mile run/race (do they have 10 mile races? This is how un-cool of a a runner I am. I ask questions like this.) If I can see a 10 mile run in my future, I can honestly say that if you’ve had any inkling to run, but it hasn’t come easy, or just seems daunting, keep my little story in the back of your mind. I struggled to get to a mile in my teens and twenties, and at 32 became a runner. The secret: Your training off the road/treadmill/trail makes a massive difference in your ability to run. Push yourself at something you really like to do, kickboxing, Tabata, Kettle Bell, HIIT, and take that training to your running path of choice. Another great place to check out if you’re looking for a challenging, total body HITT workout at home is mmasomnia.com.
For myself, aside from feeling strong, enjoying a good run and the social aspect of the sport in general, the best part is I can take E with me.
I’m glad that she sees myself and Jer engaging in healthy habits like regular exercise at such a young age. I want her to see me set goals in my running, maybe reach them, maybe fail, but try nonetheless. I want her to see that we are all worth the time and effort it takes to be healthy and fit, whatever that may be for each of us. I want her to see daily exercise not as a chore but as just what you do, like eating and breathing. Eat, drink, be merry and exercise. Not in that order, but nonetheless. To live in balance, that is what I’d like best for E, and it’s my hope that our morning runs will get both of us there.