Self-described 30-Something Mother Runner Jessica Morrison, a mom of two, saw her 5K time in 2011 drop from 25:42 to 21:54. A nearly four-minute decrease over three miles is seriously impressive. Want to be like Jess--or at least celebrate in her glory? Follow her on her blog and on Twitter at @Rhodymomrunner. She wraps up this holiday series of Why I Run. We'll, ahem, run another installment of them at some point in 2012, and will let you know when we're on the prowl for submissions.
Running is my almost daily appointment with myself; I’d like it to be daily, but with a 1½ year old and a 3½ year old, a rigid schedule is all but impossible. So I get to every appointment I can—usually every other day, from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending where my body and mind are—because a run is therapy for me: a time to check in with everything that is going on in my life and how I am handling it.
During my appointments, sometimes I zone out and think of nothing. I just listen to the sound of my footsteps or my breath. I like to start my runs out by listening to a metronome on my iPhone. I set it to 180 beats per minute (my ideal cadence), and I imagine picking my feet up at each tick. The sound of the metronome induces a sort of running hypnosis. Before I know it, I have gone four miles.
Other times, I focus on my breath to makes sure I am at the right effort level for a run. I gave up my Garmin a few months ago because I was sick of looking at it every five seconds. I wanted to learn what paces and certain effort levels “felt” like, instead of what they looked like in the form of numbers on my watch face. On my easy runs, I ask myself, can I have a conversation with myself? I test myself--and hope other runners on the trail don’t think I am crazy for talking to myself. When I am at tempo or race pace, I know that my breathing will be more frequent and more forceful, and I will, of course, feel the burn.
Sometimes, my appointments are for processing the chaos that is my life. Some mornings I wake up and I swear that an F5 tornado touched down in my living room. I am filled with anxiety about how I am going to clean the entire house, get my son ready for preschool, think about what I need to make dinner. When I head out the door to run, I start formulating a plan for attacking the rest of the day.
And on appointments during which I’m really happy, I just let my feet fly out underneath me.
After my date with myself, I can tolerate my husband asking me for the umpteenth time what he should feed the kids for a snack or my youngest dumping an entire bowl of Cheerios over the freshly vacuumed floor. Pre-run, these things would have really tested my patience, but post-run? No big deal.
Although I sometimes feel guilty as I lace up for another weekend long run or a race, I remind myself that my appointments with myself are just as important as any other doctor appointment, be it with a ob/gyn or a therapist.
After all, running keeps me healthy on the outside and sane on the inside.