When I graduated from college I returned to my childhood home a sloppier, unhealthier and slightly softer version of my former self. McDonald’s, beer and grocery shopping on your own for four years will do that to you.
My mom was determined to whip me back into shape and kick started a boot camp of sorts while I was living under her roof, once again. An avid runner, she was hell bent on getting me to run, too. I was the type who always said, “I can’t run!” and “I hate running!” For as long as I could remember, I couldn’t stand running and simply didn’t think it was physically possible for me. I can recall as far back as elementary school fitness tests not being able to finish the mile run portion of the assessment. My side would stitch up; I would sweat and salivate while feeling the taste of copper rise in the back of my throat. It was hell—not to mention embarrassing.
But, mom was unwavering, as many moms are. She started me out slow. I couldn’t make it around the block those first weeks into summer. I would spit and cuss my way reluctantly through the first few outings with her. She would yell encouraging things my way, “You can do it!” “Soon enough you’ll be running circles around me!” I would give her an evil sideways glance as she effortlessly jogged backwards beside me.
Eventually I improved my distance and lung capacity enough that I could make it one time around Hessel Park without stopping, then two and three laps around. By the end of that summer I was in stride with my mom and running every other day—a healthier, happier version of my college self.
Now, I find running such a physical and mental boost, that I can’t imagine my life without the freedom and serenity I find from running. When I became pregnant I was determined to keep this part of my life intact. I was disappointed in the reactions I got from those around me who learned I was still running—not much support or encouragement just a lot of, “Are you crazy?” “When should you stop running?” “Is that OK for the baby?”
I was getting paranoid by the shocked faces so I specifically asked my doctor at our last visit, just to reaffirm that I was doing the right things, she said, “For 30 minutes at a moderate pace (where you can still hold a conversation) is fine. But, there will be a time when it’s too uncomfortable for you.” So, there!
Not only is exercise good for the baby, but it’s good for the mom—physically and mentally. During a time when hormones and emotions are high, a natural mental boost can only help relieve physical and mental stress.
So, for a while there my mom was right, I could run circles around her. But her time has come again. I have slowed wayyyyy down to 13-minute-miles. Even though my pace has slowed and the end of the pavement is nearing as my last trimester approaches, I will keep running as long as I am physically able. And as soon as my doctor gives me the OK after I give birth, my husband and I will once again hit the streets with our new running partner, stroller in tow.
Emily Harrington is a 29-year-old townie on the cusp of full-blown adulthood. She’s a wife still in the honeymoon stage and a mom of a borderline psychotic mini-Australian Shepherd. She has a full-time job in communications/marketing and a full-time life outside of work.