Is it selfish to run?

I’m sure you already know the answer to my question.  Unless you totally think I am just a selfish person (gee, I sure hope you don’t feel that way).

Why do I bring this up?  A woman at the gym approached me today and we started talking about the crazy people who take the Cardio Sculpt class right before they participate in the Bodypump class.  Then, she turned towards me and looked me directly in the eye and asked me if it seemed obsessive to work out 2 hours a day, 6 days a week.  I immediately thought about myself and my own addictions and told her “absolutely not.”  She obviously found the right person to ask.

Then she continued by asking if it was selfish to work out so much, especially when you have 3 kids.  Once again, that was my story in a nutshell and I once again told her “absolutely not.”  Of course you can’t just make that kind of statement without backing it up.  So, I said “what about the moms who spend 2 hours a day scrapbooking or the moms who browse the internet for 2 hours?”  (okay, more specifically I am referring to the facebook addicts here).  Oh wait, what about the moms who read the Twilight series over and over again?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with those hobbies (I, myself, have partaken in some of these activities), but the point is that nearly everyone has a hobby that they enjoy.  What’s the difference if you are at the gym or if you are curled up in your bed with a book?

Yet, that wasn’t the end of the conversation.  I proceeded to tell her that she was setting a good example for her kids by staying active.  That is when she told me that she had lost 105 pounds.  That is just amazing and more power to any woman who has lost weight!  We aren’t as lucky as the guys when it comes to that kind of challenge.  She stated that she was worried about not being there enough for her kids and of course, like any parent, she fears they will get mixed up in the wrong crowds.  I told her that her activity would most likely have the opposite effect on her kids.  She is the role model that they need to have in their life and they will hopefully follow in her footsteps by participating in sports or joining local clubs and organizations.  This is what our kids need to do in order to stay busy and out of trouble.  Well, that is my plan anyway (I will let you know how it works out in 20 years).  I know my focus is athletic activities, but it really doesn’t matter how you stay involved (community service, arts & crafts, dance, music, nature expert, etc.), it’s the involvement part that shows you are an active member of society and this sets the good example for your children.

Okay, so that wasn’t my last point to make.  You see, I feel it is truly important to do an activity you enjoy because it makes you feel happy.  When you feel happy, you tend to share that happiness with those around you.  You are improving your own personal well-being as you do so.  So, I might miss out on 2 hours with my kids while I take a class at the gym or go for a run, but I return a much better mommy so that the hours that I do spend with them are extraordinary (okay, not all of the time, but at least I am better able to cope with the downsides to parenting so that I can relish in the upsides :).  Since I started running I noticed that I am less stressed, have more energy and  just feel so much better about myself.

So, is it selfish to run?  Absolutely not.


Treadmill Overload

When I first became serious about exercising during my college years (I won’t tell you how long ago that was), I actually joined a gym down the street from the house I shared with three other crazy girls.  One of those girls also had some interest in exercise, and I now know that exercise can be contagious if you poke and prod enough.  So, my exercise schedule at the time went pretty much like this:  whenever I felt like going to the gym I would go.  I’m not quite sure how often that happened, but I think it was enough to keep me going.  I would walk in and stare at the equipment without any plan in mind.  “Yeah, that stairclimber looks good for today.  Maybe I will do 20 minutes on that”… and then 10 minutes later: “oh, maybe just 10 minutes.”  Then I would move on to the next thing and maybe try out a weight machine or two.  You wouldn’t catch me in the free weights room.  I had no idea what was going on in there and I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of the hunky men and ripped ladies.

Every once in a while I would walk in and glance at the treadmill.  Sometimes I would actually get on it and get the conveyor belt moving…. slightly.  “Oh what the heck, lets bump it up to 3 mph!”  I was rockin’ that treadmill!  Or so I thought.  It took some time, but eventually I thought that maybe I could try running on the treadmill.  So I would run and then I would walk and then I would run some more.  All I knew was that if I wanted to run then I had to be on a treadmill.  Okay, once in a great while I would take a run around the little lake near my school.  But I couldn’t bear to run outside when I could actually see my breath.  I just remember the sensation of burning lungs.  That didn’t make any sense to me.  And why would anyone even dare to run in the snow?  That just seemed crazy.  I was fine skiing in the snow, but you wouldn’t catch me falling on my butt while trying to run.  I had enough problems walking to my car when the parking lot would freeze over.

So, to keep this long story short, if I wanted to run then I searched out that treadmill.  For a few years it was all I really knew.  Even when I became interested in running more, my husband and I went out to buy our very own treadmill to keep in our home.  How convenient was that?  I didn’t have to use that jogging stroller that we purchased to push around our new baby.  That just seemed like too much work.  The treadmill was easy and there was less gear required and I didn’t have to worry about the weather conditions outside.  It was usually either too hot, too cold, too windy or too rainy anyway.

All of sudden there was a turning point in this treadmill business.  I found a running buddy and we would often go to the gym to run on the treadmill, but I would get upset if we were unable to locate two empty treadmills that were side by side.  “Hey” I thought “why don’t we try running outside?”  My running buddy could care less if we ran inside on the treadmill of if we ran outside.  Since we were training for our first half-marathon I told her that I couldn’t see us running 11 miles on a treadmill.  It was starting to get boring. There are only so many magazines to read and t.v. shows to watch.

After our first few outdoor excursions, I realized what I was missing out on.  Running outside actually seemed easier than running on a treadmill and I actually felt like I was going somewhere (because I was)!  My story is getting long again, so I will just tell you this:  I am now in love with running outside and I dread running on the treadmill.  I could care less (okay, I do complain sometimes) about whether it is too cold (hey, it gave me an excuse to buy running pants and long-sleeve shirts) or too hot and humid (I am still trying to get used to this, but at least I would rather try this than stay inside with the air conditioning if it means running on the treadmill).  Now the only thing that keeps me inside is…. wait for it…. KIDS!  What about that jogging stroller you say?  Well, I have two little ones to lug around and my jogging stroller only holds one.  I can get away with it sometimes, but I also have to worry about their comfort when I take them along. When I have my husband around, then it isn’t an issue because I can say “here you go” and then run out the door. Yet, this past month has been that of treadmill overload.  I have no choice but to factor in the kids when I plan my trips to the gym or when I decide to jump on the treadmill at home (yes, the same treadmill we have had for about 6 years).   I see people running on the sidewalk through my neighborhood as I drive my daughter to school in the morning and I feel a tad jealous.  Not too much longer and I will be out there again… running the streets like I was meant to.  Did I mention that I miss those darn bridges?!