It took me a long time to call myself what I am.
I’m a mother runner. Are you a mother runner? A woman runner? Jogger? Or are you in still in the trenches of society’s name calling that says “nah, you aren’t fast so you can’t call yourself that.”
In high school, I would call myself a pseudo athlete. I didn’t make the varsity team for any sport and by senior year, I called it quits when it came to team sports. After three years of longing to be on that list posted on the bulletin board outside the office, I felt like an athlete washout.
Fast forward to college where all those tales of college pounds became a reality. Attending a private college, I worked numerous jobs to pay for that heart palpitation tuition bill each year. One of my favorite jobs was as a Starbucks barista. After closing each day, all the pastries were ours to take home. Freshman 15 was alive and kicking as I happily consumed croissants and bagels for my meals.
To compensate for all the carb loading I was doing, jogging became a new habit. Midwest winters are NO JOKE and running in the midst of those bomb cyclones without my current Athleta or Lululemon sidekicks was tough. It was sweatpants and piles of extra large windbreakers, lycra still out of reach for the common folk. Yet getting outside was therapeutic so I trudged in knee deep snow in the gray whirly wind of winter.
Adulthood brought me to Colorado and boy was I happy. I mean Colorado IS the land of outdoors fitness. Consistently ranked as one of the top healthiest states in the USA, Colorado proudly boasts that three of our cities are the fittest at any given time. Mountains, hiking trails, four national parks and water make this place an outdoor paradise. The best part is the 300 days of sunshine Colorado gets a year. No happy light needed here! Seasonal Affective Disorder? Nah. We got Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak and North Cheyenne Canon Park in our backyard. Nature adventure running can happen any day of the week!
I dove deep into running. Baby and toddler years were spent pushing my Burley D’lite. By the time we added our third kid to the mix, I’d upgraded to my BOB Revolution Pro. Free advice for running moms? Get yourself a solid jogger. It’s a game changer and man can you put in the miles! I’d bring bags of goldfish and sippy cups of juice, bribing my kids to stay put until we got to the next playground. We sure fed a lot of squirrels in those days with all the cheesy crumbs flung out of the jogger!
Postpartum depression hit hard after my second baby. After dealing with the ever changing landscape called anti-depression meds, I decided to give running another chance. I met a running group and my life was changed. Truly so grateful for Lisa Rainsberger and her mother runner advice. Instead of feeling like a subpar jogger, I was now officially a runner. I joined races and learned the running lingo: PRs, Fartleks, and tempo runs became part of my weekly long run conversations. I was an effing mother runner!.
Here’s the deal mother runners. Paying for a race or running a mile – it all means you are a runner. Any time you are out and moving faster than a walk, YOU ARE A RUNNER.
Let’s break down, just for fun, what a mother runner is.
First qualification. She must be a mother. That means you must have at least one child. Now that child could be born to you, given to you, lent to you. Technically speaking, anyone who is involved in the care of a child for some portion of time qualifies.
Second requirement. She must run. Now there are many definitions of running. I love Webster’s choice of words. I mean who doesn’t mind going steadily by springing steps so that both feet leave the ground for an instant in each step. Can’t you just see the prancing happening behind a stroller?
Third criteria. She must call herself a runner. And this, my dear friends, is the hardest part. As women, we find it easy to speak well of others but self talk? Well, that is where things get sticky. Saying kind words to our personal selves? For whatever reason, we’ve decided that society knows us better than we know ourselves. THAT IS A LIE!
See here’s the deal. Back in high school, I would never use the word runner. Oh no! My three mile loops around my African boarding school campus were just that – tasks. In college, I didn’t dare compare myself to the women on the track team with their tiny thighs and long legs. My plodding along the Prairie Path was just that; a necessary means to combat stress and the bagels I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We do a heck of a job calling ourselves names don’t we? I’m just a mom. I’m just a homemaker. I’m just a jogger. I’m just a woman. We “I’m just” ourselves to death.
Today I read a powerful letter from mother runner. It was a love letter to her thighs. Yes, her thighs. Heather had a long and complicated relationship with a part of her body that carried her every step to every place she went. She covered up her thighs thinking they weren’t good enough for the world around her. Then running found her.
“We started running over five years ago, and neither of us have ever looked back. Suddenly you were the strength that propelled me to my running goals. You had a purpose and with all of the miles we shared, our quads got muscly, and we both felt the assurance that accomplishment can bring.” Heather
She finally named herself for who she was the whole time- a mother runner! Go read the entire letter. I know you’ll resonate with her words!
I challenge you to think about writing your version of a love letter to the body part that you wish would be different. We all hold personal battles with our human form. In the height of my marathon running days, I still found parts of me woefully deficient. The moniker “runner” seemed just a 5 minute PR out of reach.
I hit my late 30s and realized something. Dang it, I AM A MOTHER RUNNER. I am worthy of that title simply because I do the work. My springy steps clock miles each week. They are slow and they are fast. They are painful and sometimes delightful. I may or may not use my dog’s love for hills to propel me up the hill.
Deep into my 40s now, I want to say to every mother runner out there, “GO GET ‘EM GIRL!” We are worthy of titles that we think we cannot ever reach. Self talk is one of the most powerful tools we have to give to our kids. Daily affirmations to YOURSELF change you. Showing up every day to take step after step is one of the best lessons of life we can show our kids. Want to race but am afraid you won’t make it? Do it. Sign up for that race. Hey, virtual racing is THE best way to get started and this pandemic has brought many to you.
Get yourself into a community of mother runners. Another Mother Runner is one of the best places I know online that creates a high five, atta girl environment for anyone! Join their tribe. Buy the hat and call yourself what you are.
You are a Mother Runner!