Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Running on Empty

We have been chatting about the hardships of February, and I wanted to share that one of the things that is really getting me through is sneaking out for a run whenever I can. This afternoon I was just totally exhausted and working out seemed like the last thing that would help (shockingly, I was so tired that I was even longing for a cigarette) but going for a run in the clear, cold sunshine really changed me attitude and gave me the second wind that I needed.

The amazing thing about running, for a mom in particular, is that you can do it as soon as you get out your door, so exercising for half and hour takes exactly half an hour, no drive to the gym needed. This means that you can run as soon as your husband walks in the door, first thing in the morning, or anytime you can grad a teenager to watch your brood for a little while.

At this time of year, getting outside a little bit is crucial to my mental health, I used to ski a few days a week, but that hobby is both costly and impractical for me right now!

If you are not ready to run, start out by walking, and you will get there. I have hated to run for my entire life, I just thought of it as something I did to train for other sports. I walked throughout my pregnancy and just after the baby was born, and then I transitioned to running just a mile. I added a little bit at a time and I am now running 3 miles at a time. I am running them very, very slowly -- JM ran her 8K faster than I can run 5k! But I am doing it, about three days a week, and it is really, really impacting my mental (and physical) health.

I had a breakthrough about running when I was whining to my husband the other night -- I don't want to relieve stress by eating or by spending money, so what can I do? Running is a healthy, productive and practical way to raise my endorphins, and once I get out the door and get going I am so glad that I did.

So, ladies, perhaps it is time to pick a spring time race and start training?


B-Mama said...

MA, this is awesome and I totally support these efforts of yours! Way to go!! Kudos to you on being so newly postpartum and already at 3 miles. Very impressive with 6 in tow!! I'm with you that sometimes you really just have to get out the door before enjoying the benefits of a jog. A lot of times, in fact, I don't truly appreciate the endeavor until its all over! That is why a morning run is best for me--I am halfway through before I realize what I've gotten myself into! No excuses!!

And let's consider scheduling a springtime race!?! I'm in.

Juris Mater said...

MA, couldn't agree with you more... I have no idea what a high-strung, distracted nut I'd be without near-daily exercise, and running is the best of all. I remember what you said after the race in November, the announcer saying "all you need is a pair of shoes and the desire" or something like that. I feel like I leave my cares along the road with every step and am able to regain a clear and fresh perspective on life.

B-mama, do you do morning runs most days? I'm hoping that Lent will push me to get my act together (especially re: bedtime) so, among other things, I can get up to run before the kids awaken. Do you nurse the baby before you go, or do you go before he wakes up for the day? I'd be a little nervous that Angelina would wake up and freak out needing her morning meal.

I'm in on the springtime race!

kathleenob said...

Mary Alice, glad to know I am not the only one! As a former smoker, I tried to convince my husband that I would be a calmer Mom if I could just sneak out back every once in awhile, but he'd didn't buy it. HE did however give me an awesome elliptical machine after baby #2 and boy what a help that has been.

I also have the same problem with getting up early to exercise with a 9 month old, because I really need to nurse before I do. Thankfully, he still takes a morning nap, so I workout then, but I feel bad because I let my two year old watch a show then. Which brings up my question. She is extremely sensitive about watching anything remotely distressing Saints videos are out of the question especially "The Day the Sun Danced." She is totally afraid of Burt and Ernie and I sort of don't blame her on that one. My family claims that I was petrified of Captain Kangaroo so she must get it from me. Do any of you let your two year olds watch a show for exercise purposes and if so do you 1) think its worth it and 2) what do you let them watch.

B-Mama said...

Kathleen, I admit to putting the kids in front of PBS Kids to get in a morning workout. I haven't done it as much lately--I've been hitting the treadmill at night while GG puts the older two boys to bed. I think if there exists an excuse to allow children to watch TV, mom exercise is a totally legitimate reason. I also have been known to sneak it in during afternoon naptime, though now that the older ones aren't napping, it makes me in higher demand during quiet time.

Both of the older boys are quite visually sensitive, so I have to pick and choose the shows they watch carefully. SuperWhy is very educational, but sometimes with scary characters. Mister Rogers is right up their alley. They also greatly enjoy Thomas the Train videos, but M (now 4) took awhile to warm up to them. We don't have a DVR, but if you do, I suggest trying Clifford or Curious George for starters. Also, I know Red's kids have liked the afternoon cartoons on EWTN.

Kate E. said...

My guys is the exact same way. He has found episodes of Little Bear & Curious George to be "too scary". Although those are two shows that in general he likes.

I would recommend highly a series of DVD's by a company called Weston Woods which has now been bought by Scholastic Video. They are the old school style videos that we were shown in the library as kids. Just lightly animated children's books, exact text & pictures. Really gentle and in our case spurs a lot of trips to the library to check out new books (you may be able to borrow a bunch of them from the library, ours is small and has several).

They are based around a theme usually, we like the "friendship" one, the "dogs" one, and the Ezra Jack Keats collection.
Here's a link to check some out

texas mommy said...

My oldest is quite sensitive as well. A lot of the saint videos are too scary right now.

We really like the Signing Time dvds. (
Educational, musical, and fun. Not scary at all. And the kids are learning another language (I took some ASL in high school, so have always been interested in signing).

Our local libraries carry a bunch of the Signing Time DVDs, so you could try to check them out from a library first.

moira said...

Winnie the Pooh is the only thing my girls would watch for awhile. Everything, and I mean EVerything else was too scary during that time.

Mary Alice: way to go with the workouts! While you're nursing and keeping up with those little ones, I wouldn't go further than 3 miles, though. You could do lunges or some light weights, or work on speed or something if you start getting bored, but don't overdo it!

AWOL Mommy said...

MA, has anyone ever told you how amazing you are? Well, not enough people do. You are amazing.

Kat said...

We loved the Baby Einstein and Little Einstein series - C learned about classical music and art in a fun and engaging way, and it gave me 23 minutes to cook dinner, exercise, clean, or just relax! There are some scary parts, though, in the Little Einsteins...I would also recommend the Kipper series - short, 7 minute clips, not scary at all, and very cute and funny. Our library has them...

Elena said...

Mary Alice, Way to go and thank you for admitting to your 5k time: it makes me feel better! Watch the lower leg injuries as that pelvis comes back in line; at least that's what my running doc/mom-to-4 always tells me. I am running in the mornings before the kids are up but I can only do this once the baby is around 9 months-1 year old. If I push it earlier, I get sick, overwhelmed and just plain cranky.
Also, Red's kids like the cartoons on EWTN???? We watched them for the first time the other day and my kids seemed completely perplexed by them. I asked my older two (both 6), do you like these/understand these? They both kindly let me know that they were humouring me by watching said programming. I was especially disappointed by "Hi, Lucy" (name?); it seemed to be unscripted, the language was indecipharable for a child and it was, well, boring. Anyway, maybe I'll write to EWTN. Thanks.

courtney said...

Does anyone drop thier kid off at the gym for a workout? Just curious? Thanks!

Kat said...

Ladies, just a quick reminder to be safe when you're going out for a run, especially in the early morning or evening hours when the light is dim. Statistically speaking, a high number of rapes occur in the early morning hours (5-7 a.m.), so just exercise caution if you're trying to squeeze in an early morning run. Also, try to vary your routine in case someone is watching your house. This may sound paranoid, but I know of a couple of people who have been raped in those early morning hours, so please be careful!!

Amanda said...

I am inspired by your running Mary Alice! You are so right about exercise and the outdoors being important for good mommy mental health.

I just wanted to second the Signing Times videos. We get ours from the library as well. Since we go to storytime once a week we can get a new one each time so they are fresh for him.

Mary Alice said...

Thanks for the support and advice everyone. I can't go much longer than 3 miles because I don't have time right now, so I have switched over to interval work for the time being -- 5 minute warm up, 8 sets of 30 second sprint and 2 min recovery, and then 5 minute cool down. This has been a great variation this week.

I was having some pelvic floor issues early on, so I slowed way down, and I also started doing push ups on my knees, which seems to really be strengthening my core as much as my arms.

JM, let's race the "free" way by planning to meet up somewhere for a fun run in April, no competition neccessary.