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Finally Hit A Runner's High

Saturday, July 28, 2012

When I was in college, I used to run a few times a week. Back then I also walked all over campus, rode my bike to get places faster, went to gym a few days a week for exercise classes. Whew! Just rattling off the list of things I used to do is exhausting.

The thing is, I did those things either out of necessity, 10 minutes to get to class a mile and a half away, or because I loved them. Jogging in particular was one of those little perks I used to reward myself after completing a paper or studying for a test. I guess when I "grew up" and started working, it fell by the wayside because while I actually liked running, I had never really made it part of a "I must do this to stay healthy" routine. When time grew tight and evening exhaustion rolled in (until very recently I have never been an AM exerciser), I found other ways to reward myself. Cake or ice cream, anyone?

Over the years my family and work schedule has kept me pretty busy. The evenings after work are usually filled with dinner, family, and the TV. I wouldn't say I became a complete couch potato, but probably not far from it.

5 years ago, I did try picking up jogging again, but I found that I couldn't even run for a minute without being unable to breathe. After a few tries, I simply gave up and running became something that I used to do back when I was younger.

Just under 2 years ago, I bought a kettlebell and gradually started to improve my fitness level. With my history of back problems and the low point I was at physically, I started with a 7 pound ball I called Betsy. It was pink and totally girly, but it immediately made my back feel great. I also liked that I quickly worked up a sweat and at the end of each 3-5 minute round was able to take a break. For a mom like me, that was key as I have tons of workout interruptions when I am home. It is much easier to tell a 6 year old that his mom will help him in 1 minute than in a half hour. I now swing a blue 26 pound (12 KB) kettlebell (I call it Natasha) somewhere between 2 and 5 times a week depending upon how much free time I have on my hands.

This May, I decided that I should also try to fit some additional exercise in on my off days. A 5K your way email blast was in my inbox and on a lark I decided to sign up. I went on my first few jogs in the morning on my extended Memorial Day weekend. After that first jog, I came home and needed a nap! It kicked my behind, but in a good way. I felt light and free in a way I hadn't in a long time as I jogged along through my neighborhood.

It's now 2 months later and I am running much further between breaks. Today's run was supposed to be for 35 minutes, but turned into 45 because I was just having so much fun. The weather was a little cooler than it normally is this time of year and it was misty. In short, my absolute favorite weather for jogging. Somewhere along the 25 minute mark I started to feel euphoric, I realized that I was feeling my first runners high in probably 12 years. It felt incredible, not only because I am finally running long enough to reach that natural high, but because I felt like I had recaptured something that I had unintentionally let go so many years ago. It makes me want to run again tomorrow!
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