More and more women take up running. Who are these women, and what makes them want to run? From now on: portraits of Running Moms! For our fourth portrait of running moms, meet Mandy!

My name is Mandy, I'm 31 years old. I've been married to my husband for 8 years and we have 2 children. My daughter is 4 and my son is 2. They are so much fun to be with. They make me laugh all day (well, most of the day). I stay home with them except for about 8 hours in the week when I am a secretary at a car dealership.

I have an associate degree in science (I think that's what it is), It's been a long time since I've been in school, and I don't remember the exact term for the degree. When I was 21 years old, I served an 18 month mission for my church in Spain. Because I am fluent in Spanish, I used it as part of my degree. I hope to one day go back and finish my undergraduate degree and continue on with a PhD in Health. I'd also love to be Yoga Instructor. That's on my life's list.

But for now, I'm happy to be a mom. I love to snowboard with my husband and be outdoors as much as possible. I also love to read and travel. But you may have guessed by now, one of my main passions is running. Unfortunately I didn't discover that until much later in my life. But I'm so glad I did.

How old were you when you started to run?

27 years old. 

Why did you take up running? 

My daughter was a little baby and I had quit my job to stay home. My husband was getting his MBA and working full time. I felt very alone and very lost. I didn't know what to do with myself since I wasn't working. One day I was in my car and the thought came to me…"you're going to run a marathon."

I almost laughed out loud. But once that thought was planted in my brain, it didn't leave. So, I started walking (pushing my daughter in the stroller) since I wasn't doing any exercise at all at the time, and then I eventually worked up to a jog (pushing my daughter in the jogging stroller). For a while I was only able to run for a few minutes and I remember when I could run a mile and it felt like I had conquered the world.

That rush from accomplishing such a task was addicting and I started adding miles. Unfortunately I learned as I added miles that I have arthritis in both knees. =I spent a lot of time in physical therapy and trying different shoes. =Finally I discovered the run/walk method and I got the right shoes with orthotics to fit my feet. I am now able to log more miles because of my walk breaks and it's just enough of a break for my knees. So, running gave me something to look forward to every day and quickly became my favorite hobby. 

How many hours do you spend on running during the week?

Depends on where I am in my training. Right now I am only doing about 4 hours. That will grow through the summer.

Do you walk alone or in a group?

I have tried to have running partners but to be honest I prefer to be alone. I'm not alone very often throughout the day and I feel so free when I am. I love to go at my own pace and follow through with my thoughts. For me, a disadvantage to running with a partner or in a group is the talking. When we're chatting away, I feel like I'm missing out on the benefits of the run. I want that time to think and enjoy my surroundings. 

What motivates you to go out for a run?

It's like a happy drug for me. It's the kind of drug I want to always be addicted to. It's keeps me sane. (That's assuming I am sane. The days I don't run, I'm not.) It really can change my mood instantly. That is a huge motivation for me. I also love the feeling of accomplishing something.  

Do you find there's a difference between physical and psychological reasons to go running?  

Absolutely. I love that it is good for my body and gives me the extra energy I need to get through the day while also letting me clear my thoughts. I think more deeply and about more meaningful things while I'm running.

What does running mean to you?

There have only been a few things that have drastically changed my life. Running is one of them. I am more confident since I've started running and more motivated to live life to its fullest. It is very powerful to me.   

Do you see parallels between running and motherhood?

Yes. In order to run, you have to put one foot in front of the other. No exceptions. Motherhood requires the same thing. You have to just take it one minute at a time, and pretty soon just like the miles adding up, your minutes add up and you've made it through the day. Little by little. 

Would you recommend running to your child?

(Big, Giant) YES! My kids love to run. My daughter will race around the yard while I count and see how fast she is. When she's done she'll come up to me (winded) and say, "Wow, I'm getting a lot of exercise, this is fun!" I make it a point to tell them why I go running and why it's so good for our bodies to exercise. They think it's great. Kids need it. Adults need it.

What makes you participate in a marathon?

The challenge of it. It really makes me work hard. I love the long runs and I love to see my body do something like that. On my long runs I usually try to picture the marathon and crossing that finish line. I get very emotional when I think about it. It's a very spiritual thing for me. I get excited to see the scenery and especially be among other runners for that long, knowing that each of them is there for a different reason.  

What does racing mean to you in general?

It's a motivator. It's a deadline and another reason to get out the door and run. I especially like the races that donate the money to charities. I feel like I can do two great things at once.

Are you running for an official prize?

No. I'm not fast enough. Maybe in another life with a different pair of knees.

How do you view your future as a runner?

I hope to have a very long future in running. I have a lot of goals that I am working towards. I want to one day finish an Ironman and compete in an ultramarathon. That's going to be awhile though. For now I'd like to continue training for marathons. Ideally I'd love to run one a year. I love spending my summer on the roads running.

Do you run with music?

I am a huge music person. I rarely run without music. It speaks to my soul. It gets me going and keeps me upbeat. I need it. 

What do you think about Paula Radcliffe?

She's amazing. 

Do you have a favourite book about running?

I have only read one book and that was "Marathon, you can do it." By Jeff Galloway. I think he's great. It was a big help for me last year preparing for the St. George Marathon.

Do you have a favourite brand of running shoes?

I run in one shoe… Asics 2130. I rotate them about every 3-4 months. 

You keep a blog about running. Why do you keep a blog?  

I keep a blog and write mostly about all the things I love. Since running is one of those things, I write quite a bit about it. It is part of my life, therefore it's included in my blog.

What does this blog mean to you?

I admire all women who have the courage to believe in themselves and go after their dreams. I love that you capture the stories of these women. It's very inspiring to read about them. I also like to read about how other mothers are juggling running and mothering.

Do you have a message for all the moms out there who are thinking about taking up running?

Do it! If I can do it ANYONE can do it. It's not something that you will regret later. You'll only thank yourself a million times over that you took those first steps.

1 comment

Raffi said...

"If I can do it ANYONE can do it." Funny how we all think that, but we're all doing it.

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