I never set out to be a runner. Sure, I ran cross country in high school, but most of the time I hated it. I tried to trip myself during races when the exhaustion became unbearable, and my friends and I often took short cuts on long practice runs. We hid in the bushes or ran to Burger King for French fries while the rest of our team trudged through six miles. (How we got away with this, I have no idea.) In those years, I didn’t consider myself a runner, and when I stopped running after high school, I didn’t miss it.
Fifteen years later, when Stella turned one and I still hadn’t lost my pregnancy weight, I started running again. I didn’t particularly enjoy it. It felt like work—hard work. But when a friend encouraged me to try a half-marathon, and I began running serious distances, a surprising thing happened: the more I ran, the more I liked to run.
I lost a little weight and was able to wear clothes I hadn’t fit into for years, which was nice, but running also made me feel more grounded and less frazzled. There was something in the rhythm of my gait that loosened my mind and allowed me to forgive the Tinker Toys and Little People scattered around our living room. I breathed deeply, and by the time I got home, I felt revived, which gave me the energy and inclination to help guide Stella’s little hands as she assembled her farm puzzle for the gazillionth time in a row. I smiled and cheered for her when she found the right home for the cow and the barn and the tractor and the chicken.
Motherhood made me a runner. And running made me a better mother.
Fast forward a few years: I have run the Twin Cities 10 mile and Grandma’s ½ Marathon. I could spend hours looping the bridges along the river roads in Minneapolis and St. Paul. I love running now more than ever and still consider myself a runner even though injuries have kept me from running most of the last year.
And this still holds true: running makes me a better mother and motherhood makes me a better runner.
One of the things I love most about being a runner is that it helped me become the kind of role model I want to be for my daughters. When they see me take the time to lace up my running shoes and head out the door, I am not only making exercise a priority in my life, I’m helping them see it as a priority in their lives, as well.
But being fit and staying fit when you are juggling work and kids and volunteering and family obligations isn’t easy. (And now that I can’t run, it’s even harder to find time to get to the gym or to find the space and quiet I need at home to do a pilates video.)
That’s why I’m so excited about Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom by Kara Douglass Thom and Laurie Lethert Kocanda. This is not a get-thin book, not an over-the-top fitness book. Hot (Sweaty) Mamas will help any busy mom figure out how fitness can fit into her life and into her family’s life. From prioritizing fitness, helping moms to take much needed “me” time, to how to develop a support network for your fitness goals, Thom and Kocanda take a no-nonsense approach to fitness and family. They are funny, engaging and practical without being preachy or patronizing. For any mother who is fit or wants to be, this book is a must-read.
Come celebrate fitness and motherhood and the publication of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas on Saturday, April 9th at the Herb Box, inside Eden Prairie Life Time Athletic from 4 – 7 p.m. It’s free and open to the public. Come have some refreshments, buy a book, and hang out with other hot sweaty mamas. (And bring your kids, too!)
Where: 755 Prairie Center Drive, Eden Prairie, MN
When: 4 -7 p.m., Saturday, April 9
And to learn more about Hot (Sweaty) Mamas, visit their website!