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Why I Run: Jessica Morrison

Jessica and a 5K running pal: aren't they pretty in pink?

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.

Jessica and her best race prize after the 2011 Falmouth Road Race.

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.

16 responses to “Why I Run: Jessica Morrison

  1. LOVE this!!! I often say a very similar thing – running is my “me” time – just as some moms choose to shop or get their nails done…I choose to run. I hate leaving my son and hubby on Saturday mornings to head out for a long run – I try to leave before they wake up (makes it much easier!)
    And I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have 2 to clean up after. I feel like I spend more time on my hands and knees cleaning the kitchen floor then I do sitting at the kitchen table!!!!
    And congrats on a fab year – 4 min in the 5k is fantastic =)

  2. this is why i run–thank you for putting some words to it. my kids are the same age, i work full time (12hr shifts on my feet) so, like many others, have difficulty finding time for myself. your speed increase is amazing, i actually thought the slower time was great 🙂 keep making your appts, your family will be better for it!

    1. Thanks Becky! As mothers we are so used to taking care of everyone else that we do some times forget ourselves! Good for you for finding the time for yourself and good luck in 2012!

  3. I really enjoyed this post, Jessica! I can completely relate to the ‘appointments’ with self, to stay sane and positive as a parent. Way to go on shaving so much time off this year– I’m excited to see what 2012 will bring for you!

  4. This was my favorite installment in your “why I run” series. Jessica has such an amazing perspective on running and its relationship to parenting. I have just adopted my new years’ resolution: be more like Jessica Morrison. Thank you for the inspiration!

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