Purposeful Running – Jen’s story

This week’s purposeful running post comes from Jen, who blogs at Marathon Mom.  Jen has become a good blogging buddy as we have so much in common (2 year old daughters, mostly vegetarian eating, running for sanity, etc).  I didn’t know Jen’s background, so this was a fun read for me.  She also just ran the Boston marathon and finished strong, heat and all, which makes her a superhero in my book!

Here’s Jen!

My reasons for running are ever changing. Despite being an active child and dancer much of my childhood/teen years, I grew up hating running. To the point I nearly failed PE in high school because I didn’t want to run!

After college I had a stressful job and needed to get out of my unhealthy lifestyle filled with bad eating habits. A huge change from the other extreme unhealthy lifestyle of an eating disorder I overcame in high school. I got a bright idea to run a marathon (a one time thing) to raise money for stroke research. I finished the 2003 Disney Marathon in ~5:20 and decided I kind of enjoyed this running thing.

In 2005 I started running with a group at the local gym and quickly looked forward to getting up early on weekends to run. This time was mine to get lost in the outdoors and conversations about anything and everything and yet not worry about other things sitting on my plate. I ran my 3rd marathon after training with this group and broke 4 hours! Something I had never dreamed of when I started, Boston was now on my radar and I had a new goal. Over the next few years I ran even more and raised money once again, this time for the Luekemia and Lymphoma Society which led to my next adventure of coaching. This was a wonderful experience and so inspiring. I was reenergized by running with such dedicated and strong people who worked so hard to achieve their goals, often going from couch to marathon finisher over a season, this is why I run and pass it on to others! I even got my husband to start running marathons and later my father who finished his first at age 60 and college roommate who is now asking me to run with her. How great to pass on this healthy habit to others.

I turned 30 and we decided it was time to start a family, which didn’t go as I had planned and we were eventually working with a specialist and wondering what was wrong with us. I continued to run and train often using this time alone to think about the possibilities and direction I hoped for my life. Unexpectedly in May of 2009 I got a shocking phone call from the doctor, I was pregnant! We had not expected this and only tested to comfirm a negative before starting treatment. A few weeks later with my doctor’s blessing I ran the best feeling marathon of my life, I felt great, had fun and renewed why I ran. I continued to run during most of my pregnancy until I was forced to stop around 34 weeks due to symphysis pubis diastasis which had begun a few months earlier. This was one of the best things I could have done, it taught me why I ran.

Eight months after giving birth to my daughter I finally accomplished my goal of qualifying for Boston by running a 3:30 marathon, nealry 2 hours faster then where I start less then 10 years earlier! As a new mom running was my time to destress, not worry about sleeping issues, breastfeeding, etc and focus on me, running truly makes me a better mother and wife. Despite all the warnings I have not (and will) not give up this part of my pre-mother life! Now I am the one out pushing the BOB for hours at a time enjoying conversations and stops at the park.
Over the years my running life has grown and it is truly a part of who I am. Running has gotten me through the stress of work, grad school, family and personal illness, family deaths and just life in general. I run for me, to stay healthy, inspire others and pass on the love of running and healthy lifestyle to others through my running and work as a run coordinator. I hope I am showing my daughter how to life a healthy lifestyle and that woman can accomplish anything.

Purposeful (pregnant) running- Natalie’s story

Today’s purposeful running feature is Natalie from Lil Runner.  I came across her blog when I was pregnant and trying to find other pregnant runners.  I’m always inspired by her workouts, vegetarian experimenting and toddler tips, she is one busy mama!  Natalie has run through three pregnancies, and just his week she and her family welcomed their third child, a beautiful little girl!

Here’s Natalie!

I played sports in high school  and college where running was the punishment.  I HATED running and timed miles. Soon after graduating college and ending the playing of competitive sports all of my life, I started running. I needed a goal for my workouts and reason to stay in shape and I decided to sign up for a marathon.  My first race was the Broad Street run in May 2004 – a 10 miler. I was hooked! From there, I completed my training for the Steamtown Marathon and when I crossed the finish line I knew it wasn’t going to be my last.  I have ran through wedding planning, deaths, moves, job changes, job stress, and pregnancy. I’ve found it to be the one static force in my life – something that I need, as a sort of therapy!

When I got pregnant with my son (#1), I didn’t even think twice about whether I would continue running.  I really didn’t view pregnancy as a limitation and just listened to my body.  Running is a part of my everyday life and I just kept it up. I also had applied to run the Boston Marathon with Dana Farber Cancer Institute and this kept me going throughout the entire pregnancy. I was able to run until I went into labor. My last run was 5.5 miles about 36 hours before he was born.  It kept me in shape and I felt like I didn’t lose that piece of myself!   I needed it and it helped me to have a fit pregnancy.  A week after he was born, I started training for the Boston Marathon and ran it when he was 10 weeks old. It was awesome!

The second time around – when pregnant with my daughter, I ran but had to do cross training once I hit 34 weeks because it was too uncomfortable.  I ended up enjoying the break from running and doing some lifting and swimming often.  I did my first race – half marathon – 2 months after she was born.

Baby #3 … so far still running (36 weeks+) strong. More comparable to #1. It gets uncomfortable at the end here with the pressure and size of the baby!!  (Natalie was able to run right up to her daughter’s birth, with some walk/run intervals).

Running has encouraged me to stay fit and shown me what my body can do. It has provided me with endorphins that I can’t get anywhere else – the runner’s high!  It has enabled me to push harder and further.   Now with 2 small children, it has provided been “my time” to get out of the house on Saturday mornings and early weekday mornings and run. It has enabled me to meet people and get to know friends on another level.  Running with groups, running in races, running to catch up with a friend, running by myself – I am so glad that I took up this hobby!  Running makes me feel fit, want to be faster and stronger, and keeps me in shape to chase after my kids.  Running is MY time and my therapy!