Moms RUN San Jose

For Moms who run, by Moms who run…Moms RUN this Town!

It’s All in Your Head….But it Should be in Your Heart

on August 22, 2012

I recently read this post from Tales of an Unfit Mommy about “Mental Fitness and Milestones”.  And it got me thinking….

I have two friends who run/workout and one of the things they always say is that running/working out “keeps the crazies away”.  As a mom who works in the home (i.e. “stay at home mom”), I know those “crazies” can take several forms – anxiety, depression, boredom, anger, stagnation, general unhappiness and feeling like “what am I missing in life”.  Yet, even when I also worked outside of the home (i.e. “working mom”), there was still that sense of something missing or of missing out on something, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

When I started running, I read articles about how running will make you “mentally tough” – how you just power on and run 50 miles, how you use mantras to keep you going, how you breakdown your run into smaller runs (e.g. a half marathon is just like two 10Ks plus a mile or two 9Ks plus a 5 K).  But the best running advice I got, was from a dear friend and yoga instructor who taught me breathing and how to be mindful of my body and my surroundings.  Since she taught baby and mommy yoga, my surroundings included my daughter you was a very pliable yogi back then.   Being acutely aware of my baby  during these sessions – of how she was growing and moving, how she was breathing – was one of the most special times I had with her because I was totally focused on her.  I had a heightened sense of her.  I remember her smell, the feel of her soft skin, the thickness of her dark hair.

As I got back into running, I would use those same techniques to help the miles go faster, especially if I was running on my own.  I would breathe and notice my breath – was it fast and shallow or slow and deep? I would notice my body – were my legs really tired or was it my mind that was fatigued? Are my shoulders up to my ears?  I would notice my surroundings – the rush of the river, the wind in the trees, the squirrels skittering amongst the fallen leaves and even the heat from cars as they passed by (yes, they were that close a lot of times as I ran on non-sidewalked country roads).

I came to love running them – my senses seemed so heightened because I was simply paying attention to what I was doing and where I was doing it.  In therapy, they call this, “Being Mindful”.

I continue to use this technique when I run on my own and my runs continue to be pleasurable in the moment.  When I don’t practice this and instead, focus on “when will this run be over” and “why am I running at all” – that’s when my runs get really hard.  This type of concentration does take “mental fitness”.  It’s a different type of mental fitness than what you might need to get you out the door to do your runs, yet it’s all part of the same belief about running – the one that says, “Do it and Enjoy it”.

I recently read this post from Hands Free Mama  called “Missing More than Life.  And it got me thinking….

As I mom, I try to practice being mindful/being in the moment with my kids yet it seems harder to do this with them then when I run.  My daughters are the loveliest little girls in the world – they are bright and articulate, full of imagination and laughter.  Yet at times, the hours between when they get home from school to when they go to bed seem so-so-so-so-so long! Instead of enjoying my time with them, I end up focussing on making dinner, hurrying them to eat so we can get baths in and then to bed at a decent hour, asking them mundane questions about their day but not fully focusing on what they are saying because I am checking my phone (yes, I am guilty of that!) or thinking about all the other things I need to do after they are asleep.

I can have the mental fitness mindset for running but its more difficult when I have to apply it to being a mom.  What does it take to be a mentally fit mom and not have the “crazies” in the first place? There are days when my senses seem so dull and I am going through the motions of being a mom and not enjoying it.  There are days when I feel like I don’t “know” my girls at all.  And these are the days that seem so hard, for me, as well as for them.

Running helps, since I feel that after runs on my own, I am more able to be present when I am with my girls.  I haven’t really practiced mindfulness when I run with my girls since it’s so easy to get distracted with a dropped sippy cup or numerous renditions of “Slippery Fish“.

Today, though, I will breathe and I focus on my daughters, on how they look and sound and feel when I pick them up from school and give them a big hug and kiss. I will play with them and we will make dinner together.  We’ll tell stories in the bathtub then read stories and say prayers before bed.  I will notice them and focus on what I am doing with them. I will love them.  I will “Do it and Enjoy it”.

Otherwise, I will really be missing it.

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2 responses to “It’s All in Your Head….But it Should be in Your Heart

  1. Priscilla says:

    Great post!!

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