I’ve been running my entire adult life. I started running in high school when part of the tryout for the field hockey team was being able to run two miles in under 13 minutes. I worked on that two-mile stretch for weeks to get my time down. It was around then that I got bit by the runner’s bug.
Through high school, I used running to stay in shape between my sports: field hockey and tennis. During my twenties, I ran short distances on a daily basis—nothing more than three-mile stints. I soon realized how much I came to depend on these runs, not so much to stay in shape but more for the peace of mind they offered as well as the inspiration. While in graduate school, I found my short runs were a place where I could work through ideas that I was testing out for writing assignments. I would emerge from my runs with a new clarity; something about the act of running helped me process my thoughts more effectively.
Around this time I moved from Boston to Brooklyn. It was easier finding running routes in Brooklyn and before long I was running about five days a week, again, in small three mile stretches from Carroll Gardens to Brooklyn Heights and back again.
What do I remember about running during my thirties?
That’s easy—being pregnant a lot and desperately trying to manage my ever-expanding body. I ran into my second trimester with all three of my pregnancies and honestly couldn’t wait to return to running after each of my kids was born. Running certainly helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but at this point in my life, it offered so much more than that. It allowed me small batches of time to get out of the house and be by myself. In the course of a busy work day and then at home with the family at night, there was rarely ever a time that I was alone, and that also included taking a shower and sleeping!
Anyone with young children knows that it’s nearly impossible to find five minutes of personal time, but running offered that to me and I was thankful to have it. I ran only about three times a week and maybe three miles at a pop while my kids were little. Still, it was something.
Over the past 15 years, since my first child was born, running has been a best friend to me—a constant that is always there and can take me away from the frenetic hustle and bustle of daily work and home life as soon as I lace up my Saucony’s (favored running shoe for thirty years) and grab my iPod. Prior to the digital world I ran with a clunky Walkman. (I really did. See photo!)
As my kids have gotten older, I can now sneak out of the house after work and on weekends for about an hour and clock in more miles.
In the last couple of years I’ve thought a lot about getting serious about running, finally training for a half marathon. I don’t know if I’m dragging my feet or just being lazy but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I play tennis on a weekly basis and get my competitive fill on the courts.
Or maybe I just want to keep running my safe haven. I love the solitude, the sanity running offers me and I don’t want to mess with that. For now, I’m content keeping my running regimen pretty chill. Hey, I wrote this blog post in my head while running! So while I may not be getting any closer to running a half marathon, I’m out there on the road with my ipod turned up to eleven, and I’m definitely enjoying the ride.
Christy Ottaviano is publisher of Christy Ottaviano Books, which is part of the Henry Holt/ Macmillan’s Children’s Publishing Group. You can find her on Facebook.