The strength I develop through running has benefits that go beyond physical. For me, running is like meditation, a way to connect to nature, grow closer to God, find inspiration and stimulate creativity. Anne Audain credits movement.
By moving the body itself, you are moving not just air, food , and blood but even thought through the body. If you let things sit still, you’ll get cobwebs. Movement gives you so much more energy (Anne Audain, cofounder of the Idaho Women’s Fitness Celebration, as told to Dagny Scott in The Complete Book of Women’s Running, p. 155).
This energy carries over to other aspects of my life, especially being a mother to a three-year-old who is constantly on the move herself. Some days even after a good-night’s sleep I’m still tired, and when a cheerful little voice says, “Sun is up, Mommy! You play with me now,” I just want to roll over and pull a pillow over my head. But after a run, I’m revived and energized with plenty of pep to play hide and seek, build a castle with blocks, read a few stories, make worms out of Play-Doh and run races in the yard.
Besides this wonderful energy, running also releases feelings of accomplishment, affirmation and confidence that make me a happier, more positive mother. It also gives me the opportunity to plan out our daily schedule and stay organized. Keeping on top of everything makes me feel more secure about my parenting skills and makes it easier to accomplish goals while still having time for fun.
It’s important to me that my daughter associate running and having fun so when I take her in the jogging stroller, we go off road and into the woods where we stop for a break and throw stones or sticks into the water, which is something she loves to do. I also use this quality time together as an opportunity to point out and count the different animals and the many beauties of God’s creation. This past Tuesday on our run we saw squirrels, groundhogs, geese, a deer and a blue heron. Sitting on a rock with our feet dangling over the water, we both looked up and admired the way the sunlight filtered through the canopy of trees. I’m so grateful for that special moment with my daughter surrounded by God’s presence.
My goal is to set a positive example for my daughter through running by encouraging her to follow an active lifestyle. So far, so good. Just the other day when I was eavesdropping on her as she played with her Disney Princess figurines, I heard her say, “We’ll go to the track and we’ll go to the water, then we’ll come home and play outside okay, baby?” Since running is such an important part of my daily life, it’s become a daily routine to my daughter. To her, it’s something done every day, like taking a bath and brushing her teeth.
She’s already learning lessons from running that took me years to learn. While we were on vacation she started racing her father and I. When she finished, she yelled, “I won!” And as we finished behind her, she congratulated each of us on winning too. Finishing is winning; it doesn’t matter whether you finish first or last.