Running For Stress Management

I run because I love being physically fit. I love my morning running ritual of lacing up my shoes because it feels like it belongs to just me, apart from being wife or mom.

Most importantly, I run because I’m a better wife and mom if I seek sweaty solitude first thing to start my day.

I used to think it wasn’t worth heading out for a run unless I could get in a “real” workout, ten to twenty miles, averaging an eight minute (or better) pace. Post children, I have learned that even thirty minutes of loping along goes a long way for more than just my physical health. I try not to get too hung up on pace and distance, knowing that no matter how far or fast I run, it is better than not running at all.

I have days when I realize I am wound as tight as a coil because I didn’t manage to get my run in before daybreak. On the odd day my running partner cancels and I am faced with the prospect of running solo in the dark, I almost always decide against tempting the Boogieman. I often opt to go back to bed, too. Unfortunately, everyone around me pays for my partner’s early morning text message, “sleeping in”. I am cranky.

Running is one of the best strategies to manage stress. It’s cheaper than therapy, and it provides a valid excuse to steal away some time for ourselves before the daily kid chaos begins. Clicking away the miles somehow resets my Patience Gage, my Mommy Aptitude Meter, and helps me cope better with whatever the day may present. When I miss my morning workout, the day’s events are just never handled as gracefully as if I had greeted the pavement before the sun; I am simply not equipped to handle circumstances that would otherwise be manageable. I am more irritable and shorter fused, and that is never a productive day with kids.

According to some of the research done at the Mayo Clinic, running is one of the most basic forms of exercise we can do to help manage our over-scheduled, over-committed lives. With as little as twenty minutes, you can increase your level of endorphins and improve your mood, allowing for a more positive outlook and increased patience.

Even my husband has learned to accept our exercise arrangement. I head out the door by 4:00 am and return by 7:00 so he can take the second workout shift.  He encourages my early morning habit and even cheers for me (though he is half asleep) as I roll out of bed and greet the darkness. He used to make commentary with a groan, “I don’t know how you do it; it’s so early.” Now, however, he has learned to appreciate the benefits of a happy wife who comes back from her predawn workout. I am recharged, refreshed, and rejuvenated.

So, even on the odd day when a running partner cancels, I need to remember I can always resort to the gym as a plausible Plan B at 4:00 am. The treadmill doesn’t provide quite the same companionship as a running partner, but it is nearly as therapeutic, and my family will thank me for it. To find more tips to get you started, there are lots of online resources you can search to give you pace charts, training tips and great shoe sources to get you off on the right foot!