You may have noticed on your Facebook feed that fall racing season is upon us, as the crisp days make for cool running, and turkey trots and jingle bell runs beckon. It may be that your news feed has become an endless stream of photos of all your mom friends beaming at finish lines, status updates filled with tales of couch to 5K miracles, and half and full marathon stories of monumental accomplishments. And all of this is happening because no other endurance sport has witnessed an all out female takeover as much as running has these last few years. According to Running in the USA, among all running event finishers in 2013, women made up 57 percent, while men made up 43 percent. No longer an exclusive "men only" sport, female runners, especially weary and frazzled mothers, are soaring in numbers. You may be considering taking up running, eager to see what all the hype is, and looking for that runner's high all your mother runner friends boast about. And then reality hits; you have kids to nurture, a spouse to love, a home to manage, a full or part-time job, and an endless list of mothering daily duties. So exactly how do you get started running? And where will it fit into your life?
Like most new physical endurance based challenges, running is going to be something you will most likely fail at miserably on the first try. You will lace up your shoes, head out the door, and three minutes in, lungs burning and heart pounding, your mind will begin tossing out questions: "Isn't this supposed to be fun? When does it get easy? Where's the runner's high? When will I be able to talk? What it so darn great about running? I just want to stop and lay down!"
Beginner runners need to be aware that all of us seasoned runners started out the same way. Left foot, right foot, slowly and diligently we perserverd, and took it one run at a time. Some awful, some less than awful, some surprisingly not so bad, until that magical day happens -- you are out on a run and for the first time it actually feels good. Suddenly our breathing becomes manageable, side stitches disappear, our lungs are relaxed. And after? Hello, runner's high endorphins! But how do busy, do-it-all, aspiring mother runners get to this point? Here are three key tips for moms ready to get their run on;
1. Running Shoes
You probably wouldn't think twice about spending an hour in a department store trying on ankle straps, platforms, and wedges. Now put that much effort and then some into buying your first pair of running shoes. Avoid the big box stores and opt for a local running specialty store. There you can have your foot and stride analyzed, and your particular body needs addressed by someone who actually knows what they are talking about. Often these stores allow for a trial period running in the shoe, to ensure you have the proper type, style, and fit. You may pay more than you anticipated, but a proper shoe can keep you injury and pain free, so don't skimp.
2. Local Running Support
Don't go it alone. There is a very good chance a quick Facebook search for running groups in your area will yield many results. Typically these local running groups are free to join, host regular weekly training meet ups, and cater to every type of runner, including the beginner and the run/walker. You will be amazed at what a difference training with other people will do to your running success. In addition to providing encouragement, local groups often offer race discount codes, can share their running equipment reviews, and often train for particular large races together. When you are off and running successfully, think about starting your own local or neighborhood running group and meet ups for moms. Spread the run love!
3. There's an App (And a Podcast) for That
Speaking of spreading the running love, there is a world of running support beyond your neighborhood, and it can easily be found all over the internet. In addition to the thousands of running websites, and personal running blogs, there are an abundance of running apps and running support podcasts. To save you from scrolling from now until next year, here are three of my favorite running support websites and apps for women and mother runners.
Strava.com: Available free in the App Store and Google Play Store, Strava is an app that tracks your runs (also cycling) and records your progress and activity data, and syncs it to the website. You can also join activity challenges for free, and run virtual races against other Strava users, as well as participate in endurance challenges. Premium Strava members have access to even more performance tracking features and support.
A new streaming music service aimed specifically for running, walking, and working out, Rock My Run deems itself "music that moves you" and they aren't kidding. These seamless mixes arranged by professional DJs come in a variety of genres and lengths. Using 'MyBeat' technology, "It adjusts the tempo of the music you're listening to in order to match your pace or motivate you to push just a little harder." Brilliant.
Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell, Founders of Another Mother Runner
Join the enthusiast tribe of mother runners at the AMR website, where you will find support and laughter in abundance, as well as equipment recommendations, inspiring personal stories form other mother runners, a large variety of training plans, running playlists, and even mother runner merchandise. Site developers and mother runners, Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell, have authored two best selling running books, with a third due out next spring. Dubbed a virtual aid station for moms on the run, this comprehensive website should be your first stop on the internet for all things lady running. And don't miss their weekly podcast available in iTunes. The witty duo have recorded over 100 episodes, each about an hour long, and perfect to listen to on your run. Podcasts include interviews with experts in the running, health, and nutrition fields, as well as answering all types of running questions from their community on Facebook. But the best part may be the few minutes of chatting between Shea and McDowell (like listening to your two best friends) as they chat about all things motherhood and running, including balancing career, husbands, children, homes, and achieving mother runner greatness somewhere in the middle of it all. And really, isn't that what we all are trying to do?
Melissa Fenton is mom to 4 boys, a cookbook hoarder/reviewer, mother runner, college football nut, and sometimes a humor writer at http://4boysmother.com
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