When I first took up running, I couldn’t even run for a minute. I’m not joking: my heart felt like it was going to pop out of my throat (or worse, explode) my calves burned and nothing about the process felt like it was doing me any good whatsoever.
My inability to run on a treadmill at the gym for even 60 seconds was so ridiculous that I was determined to up my time to at least two minutes, possibly three. I thought that if I didn’t like it, at least I’d given it a go.
The thing is I did like it, and the more I ran, the more I wanted to run. I started by setting myself little goals – walking for one minute, running for one minute, walking for one minute and so on until before I knew it I could manage 20, and from 20 I could manage 40 and from 40 I could manage 60. You get the picture.
Of course that was pre-children, when I had all the time in the world to spend in the gym. I haven’t set foot in one since BB was born in 2011.
But I have kept up the running. I now run outside two to three times a week (usually first thing in the morning when everyone else is asleep) because running keeps me sane. Without it I don’t know where I’d be. It’s seen me through good times and bad, the nausea of first trimesters (running turned out to be a brilliant cure) and that feeling of being totally overwhelmed that comes with juggling motherhood and a career.
So when Julie over at Happy Mama Happy Baby got in touch to see if I’d be interested in writing a guest post for her Body Positive January campaign, which is focussing on motherhood and happiness, I jumped at the chance because I truly believe running can transform your life.
5 ways running will change your life
1. A run can transform your day.
No matter how I’m feeling before setting off – no matter how lethargic or how much I’d rather roll over and go back to sleep – I’ve never come back from a run and not been glad I put my trainers on and ran out of the door. I’ve never not felt more alive, more invigorated and more full of energy than I did before leaving the house. Other than running shoes you don’t need any special equipment, and there a lots of deals for running gear online with things like a bluefin coupon code.
2. Running gives you space to think.
There’s nothing like a good run to focus the mind: whenever I come up against a problem, if it can wait, I tell myself I’ll think about it when I’m running. Nine times out of ten I’ll arrive home with a solution. I also use runs to plan my day, get my thoughts in order and work out what needs to be done and when. By the time I’m home I’m raring to go.
3. Running offers priceless me-time away from all your other responsibilities.
When I’m running I’m not a wife or a mother or journalist or a blogger or a sister or a daughter – I’m just me. Which is pretty much the only time I feel like that these days.
4. Running fits around you.
You don’t need to pay for membership or make sure you’ve put your name down for a set class on a set day: you can go for a run whenever you want. You don’t need to pay any money in order to do it and you don’t need any fancy equipment: all you need is a pair of trainers. And if something comes up, you can go tomorrow instead.
5. The advantages of running extend far beyond the obvious physical health benefits.
I ran into the third trimester of both my pregnancies, and was back running a month after each birth*. I’m convinced it was the running that helped me to have easy pregnancies and recover quickly after labour – I didn’t get swollen hands or feet or many other symptoms associated with pregnancy, I didn’t gain excess weight and my body healed swiftly afterwards. But mostly I think running can keep you mentally healthy by giving you time out from everything else that’s going on.
If you’ve always liked the idea of running but don’t know where to start have a look at the NHS’s Couch to 5K programme, which aims to get you off the sofa and running five kilometres in nine weeks. Lots of my friends and family have done it, many of whom have then said ‘now I understand why you run’.
Or if you can’t stand the idea of running but are looking for a better balance in your life keep an eye on the Body Positive January campaign for more guest posts about how to be a happy mummy.
You could also join me in taking part in Julie’s Instagram party, in which you’re charged with the task of posting a photo of yourself on Instagram every day, every week or even just once using the hashtag #realhappymamas.
How about you – what keeps you sane?
(*Please note this blog is called Confessions of a Crummy Mummy for a very good reason. I am NOT an expert and have NO medical training whatsoever: this post is based purely on my own experience. DO NOT try this at home and suddenly take up running – especially if you have a baby on board – unless a) you know what you’re doing, b) you’ve taken medical advice or c) preferably both).