This weekend a friend of mine in her mid-30s finished in the top 5% of women runners in a 5k race. Which is awesome, in and of itself. But she did it one month, to the day, after giving birth to her second child.
Just so we’re clear: this was pretty much me a month after my second child was born:
Running a race? Oh hell no. Top 5%? Not in this lifetime. So yes, I pretty much am in awe of my friend, as everyone should be. That’s what I call running like a mother.
I will never forget Mother’s Day 2010. It was the first time I ever ran double digits mileage in a single run. On that fateful day in May, I ran around and around a local lake and playground until I hit 10 miles. Ten miles exactly. Not a bit more.
I even did the last tenth of a mile in laps around my car so I could collapse into it as soon as I hit 10.0. And collapse I did – the entire run took me over two hours and I was exhausted when I finished. But thrilled too. I’m sure I posted all over Facebook how fabulous I was. The fact that I was running 12 minute miles did not alter my self-ascribed awesomeness.
Since then, I’ve run my share of 10+ milers. And thank goodness they became quicker than 12:00 minutes/mile. For a while I was up to about 9:00 minute miles – which for me is lightening fast. (Like I said, top 5% in a race? – not in this lifetime.)
But about three months ago my hips and lower back really started giving me problems. Running, the activity that had been such a joy to me for two years, became downright painful. Pain while I was running and pain after. Don’t get me wrong – running had always hurt in that hurts so good, I both love and hate this sort of way. But this was different. Real pain.
So, trying to be wise, I first significantly lowered my mileage, and slowed my pace. When that didn’t work, I forced myself to take a six-week sabbatical from running. I switched to just using an elliptical – which I hate. I also upped my yoga classes – which I now love (and will post about soon).
Lo and behold, when I went back out for a run about three weeks ago after my sabbatical, nothing hurt! Yay for me. I was truly relieved.
Since then I have been able to run without real pain, but I have been significantly slower. Where I was once running 9:00-9:30minute/miles, I am now closer to 10:15 or even slower. And I can't seem to get any faster.
Pace this slow after running for so long was discouraging, even embarrassing. And having friends running at breakneck speeds two hours after giving birth wasn’t helping me feel better.
Heaven help me, I worried that I was becoming a jogger. You know, someone who… jogs. Putz-ing along… no real running effort, no real running purpose.
But then I found something I wrote a year or so ago, about the difference between a runner and a jogger.
From the very beginning I have termed myself a runner, not a jogger. On Daily Mile, one of the runner websites on which I regularly participate (think: Facebook for Runners), we once spent an entire day discussing the difference between runners and joggers. Some people said it was a specific speed that made you a runner, others said it was a certain distance.This was my definition of a runner vs. a jogger:If you ever done any of these: 1) kept going despite your body telling you to stop, 2) drank out of a garden hose of a complete stranger’s house during a run, 3) felt your heart leap with joy at the sight of a port-a-potty during a run, because you were prepared to duck behind some bushes, 4) completed a distance you never thought you’d be capable of… then you’re a RUNNER, not a jogger, no matter what your speed.
I’ve done all those, and am sure I will do them all again. It was all I needed to remind me that I am a runner not a jogger.
I run like a mother. No matter what my speed.