When it dawned on me that I was having a hard time keeping up with my daughters, ages 6 and 3, I knew I couldn't put it off any longer: I had to start exercising. Some friends had just enrolled in our town's Couch-to-5K training program for beginning runners, and they urged me to join them. I knew staying motivated to exercise would be easier with friends, so I agreed, though I have to admit my goal wasn't even to run the entire 5K with them, but just to finish it -- by jog, walk, or crawl!
At first, I was worried about the time I'd be spending away from home to train, but my husband, Gene, offered to take care of dinner and the kids' bedtimes so I could meet up with my group two times a week. As a mom, it's easy to take care of everybody else, but I realized I had to do something for myself.
One thing I didn't expect was how tough the training would be. I could barely finish the first workout; it was so difficult that I actually cried. I was tempted to quit, but with each session, it got just a little easier. And over time, I began to enjoy running. By race day seven weeks later, with my family there to cheer me on, I ran that entire 5K. I had found an inner strength and perseverance I didn't know I had.
Running is now a key part of my life. What's more, Gene and our girls sometimes run with me, allowing us to stay fit together. My exercise routine gives me much-needed time out of the house, a chance to put aside thoughts of dishes or laundry. It takes me someplace else, and when I come back, I'm better able to handle the challenges of life with little kids. I feel physically stronger, of course. And I've signed up for another race -- this time, a 10K.
We like coolrunning.com's Couch-to-5K training program, which offers free tips and an app to help you stay on track. And if the only thing that could get you motivated is having to run for your life, try the app's zombie trainer function.