How to return to running as a single mum
Remember those days of freedom? & I don’t mean the days before kids or even marriage, I’m referring to those days & evenings when it was just you & the open road, the fresh air, the release of your busy & stressful day or the fabulous start to a new one. You know, those days of clarity & overall mental & physical fitness…The Running Days.
Running got me back on my feet quite literally after my husband left & once I got into it, I felt better than I had for years! Looked & felt as good as I did in my 20’s & my energy & confidence levels were super charged! At that time my routine was pretty consistent & running 5-10 miles 3 times a week became my norm & as a single mum, that running boost gave me Super Power!
Well you know how it goes, things change, routines go awry (which having a son with autism no routine creates mayhem) & you, the Chief of the tribe get left behind in the self care department. Weight gain, lack of energy & focus, you choose clothes that you can just squeeze into rather than the clothes you want to wear, you begin to lose your style & shuffle through each day feeling exhausted & grumpy, quite happy to stay behind closed doors if you can & vow you’ll start looking after yourself tomorrow. ‘ME’ time has become that sneaky chocolate bar you gobble down quickly when you’ve popped out to the shops & you sit in the car park feeling momentarily satisfied until you think about where to hide the wrapper (because getting back out of the car & binning it just tells the World your little secret) & the guilt kicks in…
I should be running today. The 8.5 Mile Great Midlands Fun Run is here once again. I had my entry number weeks ago. I should be running, but I’m not & I’m SO annoyed at myself. Running means so much more than looking good. It’s that wonderful feeling of achievement, it’s pushing yourself to do more, it’s showing your kids you can do it, it’s discipline. It’s FREEDOM.
As I look at my medals from previous years, they’ll be a gap. It will be a reminder that I let myself down. I will cheer fellow runners on, in particular my brother & vow to do it next year. Are you with me? ( obviously you can find somewhere local!)
So why do you want to run? Why is it important? Do you think your lack of energy will prevent you? the upside is exercise boosts your energy, you remember that feeling of taking on the World, right?
Write down your goals, your reasons. Take a selfie right now & each week to compare the physical changes if that’s important, focus on that powerful feeling it gives you. Journal your thoughts & progress. ( I’m loving Fearne Cotton’s Happy)Remember, you have so much on your plate as a singlemum, you need to be fighting fit!
My first ever run was 0.4 miles & I threw up 3 times! But I’d bought my trainers & had to justify it & within a month I could run 3 miles, documenting each run on my Nike running app. Each time I went out, I increased my distance slightly & in less than a year I was running 10 miles. I had a goal to beat my 1997 time for the GMFR & although 2014-2017 I didn’t beat that time at least I tried, but with less & less training & with more & more lethargy.
I highly recommend subscribing to Runner’s World Magazine. I got a great subscription deal last year for £17 annual fee & I read with awe the inspiring stories but you can also check them out online. Great tips & energy sources & recipes.
So think about when you can fit in your run. Can you wake up an hour early & get a run in before getting the kids up for school? It’s a fantastic start to the day. Can you do it after the school drop off & before work or in the evenings? & don’t forget you’ve got weekends too.
Schedule it into your diary as if it were an appointment-it is, it’s a well being appointment for YOU & forget that weather excuse because you know that once you are back in the game, a bit of rain is can be a welcome feeling during that hot & sweaty run!
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t get out. With singleparenting comes having to adapt, but you can do this, just try stick to your schedule as much as possible. I know my lack of running has made me so irritable & running certainly helps combat stress & depression so the benefits are huge.
Make running a priority, figure out if there’s something you can do without.
Plan. Schedule it in the diary. The kids will soon learn that this is part of mum’s routine & they will respect you too, along with you showing them that self care is important.
Ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness. Swap babysitting with friends, pay a babysitter, pay your eldest. There ARE ways round this.
You could squeeze in a run with the kids too. Grab bikes, scooters, get them running too. Make it a family thing, but make sure you are getting your ‘ME’ time too.
Join support groups such as Running the distance on Facebook, the support from any running community is fantastic.
Always stick to safe routes & carry your phone, it’s easy to also use the app with your phone too.
Be visible. Wear something reflective.
A happy YOU is a happier EVERYONE. Put on your running shoes & go!