I have never considered myself to be athletic, let alone the runner type. It’s true, I am a dancer. If there is music involved, I can move with grace, skill, and balance. Take away the music and add any sort of ball and I become enthusiastic but entirely unskilled. I once held up gym class over my inability to properly serve a wally ball. Not one of my prouder moments.
Given that sort of background, you can understand why the idea of running never had much appeal. In fact, I avoided it like the plague for, oh, the last 13 years or so, or ever since I finished my Phys Ed requirement in high school.
Runners, to me, were these people that sprung, fully formed from the font of fitness—much like Athena emerging fully grown from Zeus’ head. (Geek alert!) Runners were people who had always been fit and always would be fit. In an us-vs-them world, I was not one of them.
And then I had a baby.
I am blessed with a pretty good metabolism that, combined with decent food choices, has kept me relatively slim. Except for dancing, I’ve pretty much spent my adult hood sitting on my ass.
I thank breast feeding for a good portion of my weight loss after H was born. Did you know that breast feeding burns an average of 500 calories a day? You’d have to run on the treadmill for 60 minutes at a pretty brisk pace to burn that many calories. All I had to do was sit on my butt (and we all know I’m good at that), read, give my baby the best food available to her, and I could lose weight!
All that being said, none of this so far has anything to do with running. But I’m getting there. Promise.
The problem is that breast feeding alone does not a weight loss plan make. After H was 3 months old and I still had 8-10 lbs to shed, I screwed up all my courage and got a personal trainer. Best. Investment. Ever.
But the first thing on her list was getting me to run (in addition to weight training). While in theory I understood the whole idea of running and weight loss going together, in practice I was skeptical of the results. I am no runner.
Those first runs were ludicrous. I would walk 4 minutes and run for 1 minute. Longest minute of my life! I was so nervous that I’d get too tired that I made tiny circles around my block and did five or six laps. A neighbor would sometimes compliment me on getting out there, and I’d secretly laugh. I was not running. I was hyperventilating.
Of course, eventually 1 minute turned in to 2 minutes turned into an entire mile run. When you’re unemployed and you can get up and run with no other real time constraints aside from those baby-imposed, you can get into a rhythm. I was jogging.
I promised myself little perks if I could keep at this “running” thing. Over the months I earned new sports bras, cute new shorts, and eventually a BOB jogging stroller. I had now invested too much money to stop running. It was part of my day. I even ran a 5k!
H and I getting ready to run the 5k
This is not to say that running magically became easy for me. It’s still not easy. It’s still a struggle to get out there some days. I still have days where I feel back at square one with no wind and an aching side. I am still a very slow runner. My husband walked that 5k I ran and was beside me the whole way. (But he does have very long legs!)
Despite all that, I finally consider myself a runner. It has taken me a good year to figure out that being a runner has nothing to do with how fast you go, how far you go, or how often you go. It has a lot more to do with your willingness to put one foot in front of the other—repeat.
PS- In case you’re interested, breast feeding plus three days of running and two of weight training each week equals a weight loss of 20lbs! And I can lift and carry my sweet girl without getting exhausted.