While we mothers always love a day in our honor—and the homemade cards, pancakes, and kisses that go with it—the truth is, being a mother is a motherload of a job. Every.single.day. When we’re not dealing with a tantrum, we’re cleaning up barf. When we’re not driving car pool, we’re twisting pipe cleaners to be all artsy + craftsy. When we’re not preparing a meal, we’re at the grocery store for the third time that week.
Clearly, we need to celebrate and take time out for ourselves much more than once a year. And we know of no better way of honoring yourself than going for a run. While the (calorie-incinerating, cut-calves) physical benefits are attractive, it’s the mental payoff that keeps me lacing up again and again.
Something mentally transformative happens when we run; we morph from a bundle of doubt, stress, to-do lists, and unsuccessful pipe-cleaner flowers to myself again.
Post-run, we are much more patient mothers. Post-run, we are more loving spouses. Post-run, we are much more efficient workers. Post-run, we have a lightness in our hearts that I can’t find anywhere but at the end of four miles. Post-run, we feel we can handle anything the world or our families wants to throw at us because we’ve taken time for— and care of—ourselves.
Problem is, running requires effort and energy, motivation and mojo, all of which can be harder to find than your kiddo’s other shoe when you have less than 30 seconds to get out the door.
Here are five ways we use to regularly get my run on:
—Rise and shine. Even though your night may not have been (ahem) as restful as you hoped, getting up at dark o’ thirty and shoving yourself out the door is one of the most efficient (and least likely to be interrupted) ways to get in some miles. We look at it like this: you’re going to be tired anyway. You’ll feel better if you’re personally responsible for a bit of that exhaustion—and get an endorphin hit to boost.
—Challenge yourself appropriately. Plunking down plastic for a race entry is a great way to make running a rule, not an exception, in your life. Just be wise when picking your goal: Six months after giving birth probably isn’t a great time to run a marathon, but it might be perfect for a 10K. If you’re coming off an angry IT band, aiming for a PR in the half-marathon is likely to lead to frustration, but helping a pal finish her first shot at 13.1 can only lead to elation.
—But don’t be too hard on yourself. We type-A runners thrive on numbers (at least when they’re going in the faster direction). But when you head out and your legs feel like tree trunks, and you’re certain nobody has every run slower than you ran today, keep things perspective. One mile is one mile, whether you covered it in six or sixteen minutes. You’re out there, being the best you can on that particular day, so don’t belittle your effort.
—Recruit a best running friend. We can find plenty of excuses not to get up and go when I’m lying in warm sheets and my only prospective company for our run is Beyonce. But we don’t dawdle at all when we have a pal or three waiting for us at the park. Not only do we not want to let them down, but we also want to see them: Our runs are the only time we have in our crazy lives to catch up, gossip, and laugh.
—Don’t think; just go. Those four words have become an oft-repeated mantra around another mother runner, and for good reason: the less you dwell or worry about a run, the more likely you’ll be to get it done. In the early a.m., put your body on autopilot and get moving before you know what you’re doing. Later in the day, when you’ve got kids clinging to your leg as you pull on your Spandex, leave any maternal guilt behind as you head out. Promise: they’ll be fine while you’re gone—and you’ll be much better equipped to deal with them after a few miles.