Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why I Love Running

After running the half marathon back in October while pregnant, I took a hiatus from running for about three months. I missed it--a lot. For me, running is something that I only began doing consistently in the last five years. I have enjoyed it more and more, the longer and more frequently I do it. As my doctor said, "It is your therapy." Running has several benefits for me, some of which include: time alone to think and pray, the opportunity to set goals and work to achieve them, and overall physical health. So after a long break from the activity I love most, I have begun to get back out there on the roads. I am thankful that God has allowed me to be able to enjoy an activity that I can do with the body that he has given to me. I have strong convictions that our bodies truly are a temple, to be taken care of and used for God's glory. There is a great reward in being able to exercise with pure motives. God calls us, as Christians, to a higher standard in all that we do. I have been encouraged by parallels that I read in the the Word of God, having to do with running a race. I can really relate!

It has been 6 weeks since I gave birth to our sweet baby boy Hudson, and I have been in the process of recovering from my natural, medication-free delivery. After giving birth, I felt great (honestly!) and have been improving physically ever since. In my birth story post, I talked about how exercising during pregnancy was a huge factor in my being able to give birth naturally with very minimal tearing. I attribute the same thing to the speed of my recovery. During the first two weeks postpartum, I began taking long walks with Hudson in the jogging stroller, anywhere from two to four miles at a time. I was rarely winded and felt great afterwards and was eagerly anticipating being able to run again. At almost two weeks postpartum, I attempted my first run--one slow 1/2 mile. It hurt, but I was able to do it. I couldn't wait to run more--faster and for longer distances. When you have a newborn, your sleeping habits are affected dramatically, and as a new mother you are recovering from the physical task of childbirth, all while caring for your new baby. Needless to say your poor body takes a beating. But one thing I love about running is the fact that you can do it at your own pace, for short or long distances, and it is completely up to you! 

Running with a baby, as a new mom, is much different than running when you are childless, I have quickly learned. For one, you are sleep-deprived so you may not be able to run on certain days when you are just wiped out. Secondly, you can almost guarantee that you won't be able to run at the same time ever day (at least not in the beginning) because life no longer revolves around your schedule. Instead you must learn to be flexible and thankful when (and if) you are able to run--regardless of when it might be. You can't just up and leave the house whenever you please, because you have to take your little one with you (or have Daddy watch him)! Running with a jogging stroller is an experience in and of itself--one that I highly recommend--but it takes some getting used to. Muscles that you didn't even know you had will begin hurting, especially in your abs and your shoulders. All that to say, running with a baby produces a few more logistical challenges, but it is just as much fun as doing it by yourself. I have had multiple opportunities already to run with friends while pushing Hudson in the stroller, which has been such a blessing. 

If you are contemplating whether or not you can begin an exercise routine, or get back to the one you were on before having your baby, be encouraged that it is possible! If that includes running, just remember a few things: 

  1. Go at your own pace and don't try to compare yourself to others.
  2. Be flexible! Don't beat yourself up if you miss a day or two (or three).
  3. Your baby needs you to be healthy, too.
  4. Enjoy every moment of it and be thankful that you are back at it--or for the first time.

So, as I lace up my running shoes once again, strap Hudson into the jogging stroller, and take to the roads, I am reminded of how much I love running and the God who created me to do it for Him. Hopefully, I'll be able to give a race report soon as I contemplate what my next one will be. Until then, I am going to pursue running for pure enjoyment's sake and hope that God will teach me to run the race of the Christian life with as even more excitement and zeal than I have on the road.