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Why Moms Run

A woman smiles as she runs a 5K
Photo by Felix Kunze/Getty Images for adidas

Every Saturday morning, I’ll give my kids some milk and grab my coffee, and we’ll watch out the window as a myriad of runners make their way up my street. We don’t live on a running path, just a nice residential street where these running folk make their way past my two sons, usually pantless and waving. (My sons, that is, not the runners.)

One of my dearest friends in the entire world is a runner. She’ll get up on the weekend and crank out a few miles like others of us bake from-the-box brownies. It’s always blown my mind…and, as a non-runner, part of me has always wondered: WHY? No one is chasing you.

This morning, at the gym, I think I figured it out: the mystery as to why so many moms become marathoners and triathletes. Part of it is the physical challenge, the ability to overcome the great obstacle, to set a fitness goal, sail on that endorphin high past “The Wall” and reach the finish line. The other half, I believe is this: continuous physical activity gives us mind space.

Mind space. That portion of your day when your thoughts belong only to you. When no one can ask you to fill their sip cup with some water or tell you they need a snack even though they’ve eaten 10 minutes ago. That time when you can’t do another load of laundry or clean up the kitchen because you’re engaged in a physical activity that is yours and yours alone. Magical, magical mind space.

This morning, I spent a half hour on an elliptical machine—also known as the Velociraptor for those in my inside circles—just listening to music and doing mindless cardio. My husband came up to me about 20 minutes into my workout and asked me if I was OK; I seemed in my own world. That’s because I was. It was great.

To all you mommy runners, I salute you. And I think I finally get it. Not that I’m going to try a marathon myself, but I think you’re onto something.

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