It’s that time of year again, that time when I try to convince myself that I don’t hate running. I’ve been trying to force myself to love running basically my entire life. 28-ish years later, one dead last place in a junior high track meet and too many side cramps to count, I still loathe it. Yet here I am again, jamming my playlist full of songs that I hope will inspire me to run and testing the waters again.
If you’re asking the obvious question, “Kristi, if you hate it so much why the heck are you running?” know that I ask myself that every thirty seconds while running. I could do just about any other form of exercise—and I do—so I don’t necessarily need to run, but I’m stubborn. I consider myself to be pretty athletic and in good shape, but despite my physical health, I live by the motto that I don’t run unless someone (or something) is chasing me. It’s a practice that’s always been good to me, but now I’m toying with the idea of abandoning it for a few of reasons:
- Running requires no equipment, but we happen to have a treadmill, which makes it even harder to make excuses not to run.
- Running can be a great cardio workout in a short amount of time with the right intensity.
- Curious about my latest performance, I did a quick Internet search of average mile times for my age. Apparently, I was on par with a 50-year-old.
- My husband loves to run.
In all honesty, most of my motivation comes from numbers three and four of that list. OK, mostly number three—number four is a bonus. Since learning that my speed was that of someone nearly twice my age, I got mad. I got serious. I got determined to improve.
Someone couldn’t be happier that I’m suffering my way toward improvement and hopefully a love of running (or at least entering the friend zone). My husband sees me gasping for breath on the treadmill and—in his own words—he’s excited! He has grand plans of us one day finishing a marathon together, but I’ve told him to drastically lower his expectations for the time being—like let me finish a 5k without walking first.
The point is that his enthusiasm for running is probably the only reason I haven’t thrown in the sweat-soaked towel for the umpteenth time in my life. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’ve been running consistently for three weeks now, I’m shaving minutes off of my time and I even ran three miles straight. I want to stick with it this time; I really do. I like the idea of my husband and me sharing a love (or at least a healthy respect) for running. We can do it together now, pushing strollers all the way, and years from now when we’re old with creaking joints and menthol scented pain relieving cream.
Running bridges the gap between his Marine Corps required PT: push-ups, pull ups and sit ups and my wild world of exercise including everything from yoga and Pilates to kickboxing and jump training. And you know what? It’s nice to have something in common. I like that we can talk shop and compare stats after our runs; it’s encouraging.
Aside from running, we enjoy physical activity in this family. My husband, my 2-year-old son, eventually my 2-month-old daughter, and I all find ways every day to break a sweat and elevate our heart rates. My son frequently “works out” with me. He can do a plank and a push up better than some adults I’ve seen, and he loves to try exercise just like me—although I hope I look a little more coordinated when I’m doing jumping jacks. We take walks together; we swim, chase, climb, jump, dance, play catch and kick a ball around. My son loves to be outside, and while some of that might just be his personality, I think our emphasis on health also makes playing outside more appealing than an afternoon in front of the TV.
Getting active and staying active as a family not only keeps us all healthy, but it motivates us when motivation is due. Yesterday morning I was dragging and cursing the fact that I had to exercise, but I came back from fetching my shoes from the closet to find that my son had rolled out my yoga mat and pulled out my dumbbells. He’s a tough coach and a great motivator, and I don’t even think he knows it.
We don’t always choose the same exercises, but we’re all different and that’s OK. My son often chooses to sprint up and down our hallway 900 times a day; that doesn’t appeal to my husband and me. My husband can’t stand the idea of an hour of yoga, but I find it relaxing. In turn, he could run for hours, and we all know my feelings on that. We support each other, encourage each other and we try new things in order to experience exercise together. It’s not always fun, it’s certainly not always pretty, but at the end of the day we broke a sweat, we’re better for it and we wouldn’t have it any other way!