Before I had children, I loved to run. I really, really, loved to run. I would lace up my runners, head down our quiet street, and be on a path along the river within 3 minutes. This was my happy place.
Running was a way for me to quiet my mind, and let go of a stressful, often emotional nursing shift.
I ran without any music. I loved to hear the sound of the trail with every step, a quiet rhythm to focus on. The more I ran, the more at peace I felt.
As a challenge to myself, a few months before my wedding I ran a half marathon (21 km). In preparation for this, I increased the length of my runs, often running 15-20 km several times per week.
When I (finally) finished that half marathon my legs were burning, but I felt absolutely amazing. What a feeling! I had actually done it!
Once I became a mama, things changed for me. I ran, but very infrequently. I felt clumsy and heavy, and running felt like one more thing for me to do, instead of something for me to enjoy.
Eventually, I started to fit in more runs, but at the time we had moved to a more residential neighborhood and running past house after house didn’t seem that enjoyable to me either. I missed running along the river more than I thought I would. Plus it was hard for me to feel the freedom of a run while pushing 90lbs of kids in a double stroller.
While visiting family this past Christmas, we stayed my husband’s parents; who happen to live in the same quiet town we used to, right along the river.
I made sure to pack my running shoes, and once we arrived and settled our youngest down for his nap, I headed out for a “quick run”, solo.
As soon as I got one foot on the path I felt such an emotional release! That feeling of freedom during a run was finally back. Once I got going I just didn’t want to stop. Everything was exactly as I remembered it, and I had missed it so much. I ran further than I thought I would, about 9km by the time I got back. Not too impressive compared to what I used to be able to do, but I felt such a sense of accomplishment that my body and mind were able to achieve that. My legs were literally shaking on the cool down walk back to the house, but I was so happy I had tears in my eyes.
That feeling is motivating me to prep for my second ever half marathon coming up in March. Five years and two children after my first one!
I let this be my gentle reminder of how important it is for all of us to find something we really love to do, that we can do just for ourselves. Whatever you do that makes you feel alive and free, that’s what you should be sure to create space for!
And don’t let that feeling fade away.