Why running makes me a better parent

 3 top reason to get out of the house and start pounding the pavement NOW!

I love my daughter. She’s the light of my life, a girl of immense spunk and personality, with a bright, inquisitive mind.

She’s also stubborn, relentless and too smart for her own good. She has an innate sense for when I’m exhausted or had a rough day in the office, and she knows how to push the buttons hard. What is it that our parents used to say to us, when we were being bratty? I hope you have kids just like you one day. Uh-huh. That time is now and boy, does it suck.

The joys of parenthood are often weighed down by the extreme lows; glowering love mingles with bubbling frustration in a rollercoaster ride that threatens to overwhelm the best of us on a daily basis. It’s little wonder that parents often find themselves frantically searching for an outlet to release the tension and rejuvenate*.

*That doesn’t involve alcohol! While drinking wine with friends is lovely and something I engage in fairly regularly, I’m sure we can all agree that drinking daily to relieve stress is a slippery slope that can lead to sub-optimal outcomes.

Running has always been my go-to when the chips down. It’s the perfect combination of exercise, freedom and at times, mind-numbing exhaustion, providing an ideal outlet at the end of a grindingly difficult day.

For all us parents doing it tough, here are the 3 top reasons why running makes us better parents and why you should be pounding the pavement every chance you get.

  1. We get to run away from being a parent for a while.

When I run, I’m not Mum. I’m just a girl with my headphones in, pretending I’m on the dance floor. I’m young. I’m ‘in the zone’, clocking up the steps on my Garmin to the sounds of some sweet beats, a silly grin on my sweaty face as I mentally groove away.

We know we’re at our best when we’re refreshed, both physically and mentally, and this is especially true for parenting. Exercise produces a natural high (endorphins baby) and a great opportunity to shut yourself away from the day’s worries.

  1. When we are fit and strong, we can conquer the world (of parenthood)

Getting into peak condition is genuinely one of the best feelings in the world for me; I become an invincible superhero, capable of handling even the most difficult of parenting situations.

When we feel good physically, we become confident in our decisions, calmer in our reactions to stressful situations and better able to think clearly when solving problems. The very finely tuned skills that are necessary for great parenting.

  1. When we run, we are setting a great example for our kids.

In recent times, it’s become cool to be run-off-your-feet busy, with a full calendar and no time for sleep or self-care. Somehow, we’ve turned into a society where having spare time on your hands is a taboo; a sure indication you’re not working hard enough. This skewed view of the world is clearly terrible for your well-being and not sustainable (even if you are a superhero).

When I tell my family I’m heading out for a run at the end of a busy day, what I’m really saying is (1) it’s ok to put myself first sometimes; and (2) exercise is and should always be a priority, no matter what’s happened or still needs to be done. These are some of the best messages you can send your kids, and it’s never too early or too late to start.

Bonus reason –  signing up to running events means a great opportunity for a weekend away with the family! The team at Great Ocean Road Running Festival have some great packages for exploring the region that are guaranteed to be a winner with the kids.

So parents; if you weren’t already motivated to sign up to this year’s Great Ocean Road event, you now have some excellent reasons to get on board. Sign up now and if the marathon is your goal, check out the great training program the expert team at Run For Your Life has put together to get you into peak shape.  Your family will thank you for it.

**If you don’t have a step counter, I highly recommend grabbing one; I have the basic Garmin Vivo Fit 3 and while initially dubious, have found it to be an amazing source of motivation. Committing to a per-day step count (and better still, making a competition out of it with my partner).

Editorial Contribution by Rebecca Walker.
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