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The Joys of Jogging

There aren’t too many things I remember about being a five-year-old, but I do remember being a kindergartner out on the playground. Once we were set free, my classmates and I would take off as fast as we could. Running, skipping, and hopping...we could play tag tirelessly from the moment recess began until the bell rang for us to line up to go inside.


Fast forward to seventh grade when I began my first season of junior high basketball. By this time, running had morphed into a form of conditioning or even a means of punishment, a consequence for mistake on the court. So, it only made sense that I began to despise running. Now don’t get me wrong, running to play a sporting game like basketball or softball brought me pleasure, but to run just for the sake of running made no real sense to me. And to be honest, it kind of hurt.


For the next six years of my junior and senior high school sporting life, running was something I did solely when my coaches required me to. I even participated in track, but I was a sprinter and again, I didn’t run for pleasure. I did it because it was a prerequisite for the sport. And the majority of the athletes around me seemed to share my disdain for running.


My parents were both avid joggers. They went almost every day, and I remember my dad, who was also my elementary physical education teacher, trying to persuade me to run with me. He would say ridiculous things like, “It’ll feel so good, or “once you start you won’t want to stop.” I would just roll my eyes and politely decline. I mean, was this guy serious? Running three miles a day and participating in road races was not something that appealed to me in the least.


And then as my senior year of high school came to a close, I began to wonder what my sporting life was going to look like. I was going to college, but not to play sports. Sports had been my passion and my driving force for such a long time. I was a four-sport-athlete who took strength and conditioning classes every year. What would my life be like without the sports that had defined me for most of my life? It was a scary thought.


Not only did I love the competition aspect of sports, but they also kept me in amazing shape. I had heard nasty rumors about the “freshman fifteen,” and I had seen some evidence of people graduating and then putting on some weight. There was no way I wanted that to happen.


So, I decided to listen to the advice of my parents. I began jogging, just a mile at first. I would be lying if I said I loved it from the beginning. It was actually a little agonizing when I began. But it didn’t take long for me to begin looking forward to running. It also got easier and easier the more I did it. I even began to increase the distance that I traveled. I even began participating in 5K road races to keep my competitive spirit alive.


And soon, I was hooked. Running became something that I did every day. It was a part of my life, one that I didn’t like going without. I experienced so much satisfaction in the way I felt after my daily jog. The feeling couldn’t compete with the way I felt after a basketball or softball game, but it was able to fill a void. I began running daily as an eighteen-year-old, and nearly two decades later, I’m still at it. And when I was forced to take time off during both of my pregnancies, I was so anxious to return to my regiment as soon as possible after delivery.


I’ve fielded a lot of questions recently about how I stay fit. People are often astounded that I don’t have a gym membership and choose to workout at home. My exercise routine includes my own body weight coupled with dumbbells. And I think that one of the most important elements that makes my program effective for me is that I incorporate running into my routine. The cardiovascular component of health and fitness should not be ignored, but I feel like I often neglect to tell people that I do it. And when I do mention it, many people immediately dismiss it.


But, I’m here to tell you that jogging is one of the best ways to stay in shape. So, in an effort to motivate your running routine, I have some benefits that I’ve experienced that might persuade you to join me in my love for running.


Benefit 1 - Sweating feels good. Yes, I said it, and I meant it. My younger students will often complain about sweating. When they approach me with this, I immediately compliment them and get overly excited. If kids are sweating, I’m doing my job. Sweating helps give your body a detox, it clears your skin, it helps you cool down, and it releases feel good hormones. In addition, it has been said to help boost your immunity. And while I’ll admit, I often look a little rough and likely smell even rougher while I’m super sweaty, I revel in this.


Benefit 2 - You feel a sense of accomplishment. There’s no better feeling than that of accomplishing something. When I complete a three mile run, I feel good about myself. There’s a natural high that accompanies the completion of the task. I like challenging my body, pushing it, even when I don’t feel like it. Even on days when I have a little cold or I’m just feeling rough, jogging improves the way that I feel. It sounds crazy, but for me, running is even more crucial when I’m feeling poorly.


Benefit 3 - It gives me a chance to clear my head. I am a thinker. Some of my best and most profound thoughts have occurred while I’m jogging. Sometimes I pray while I run. Other times I listen to inspirational music. I run outside, and it connects me with nature and myself. It helps me refocus.


Benefit 4 - Cardiovascular health is just plain important. Everyone knows it’s our hearts that keep us alive, and it’s our jobs to take good care of them. The heart is a muscle and like any other muscle, it needs to be used in order to remain strong. Again, my youngest students make me smile when they tell me that they should probably stop running because they can feel their hearts beating out of their chests. Imagine their surprise when I tell them that it’s good for them to make their hearts work hard. Adults need to strengthen their hearts as well, and running is a great way to do that.


Benefit 5 - It’s important to be able to outrun your children! Okay, so I may be half-kidding. But really, my kids know that I can catch them in a foot race, so they don’t dare try to run away from me. More importantly, however, I am modeling healthy habits for my biological and school kiddos. They see that running is a part of my life. Exercise is like eating and drinking. It’s essential for my body. My ultimate goal is always to help others improve their health, and my daily running routine is one way I can model healthy living to those around me.


So, get ready to lace up your sneakers and go for a jog. It doesn’t have to be fast and it doesn’t have to be long, but make it a habit. And don’t forget to let me know how it’s going on Instagram @fitmodelmom.


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