The alarm goes off at 5:30. I know it’s in the 40s this morning, so I grab an extra layer, some water and a quick snack. I’m out the door by 5:55. Still dark, my running partner and I hit the trail at 6:15 with headlamps in place so we can navigate the path and we’re finished with six miles by 7:15. A quick stretch and then it’s back home. A shower and coffee (not always in that order) and I make sure that my two young sons are ready for school (bags packed, lunches made, homework finished) and the dog has been fed and taken out. I grab breakfast to go and we’re all out the door by 8:30. This is my life as a working-mother-runner.
I started running in the summer of 2006 when my oldest son was eighteen months old. He decided to start waking up around six in the morning on a regular basis. I was out of school for the summer, so I would throw him in a hand-me-down jog stroller and off we went. At first, I would alternate walking and running until my neighbor (and now the running partner I mentioned earlier) talked me into going for a three mile run with her. I am a trained dancer and swimmer, so I never would have imagined that running would become such a huge part of my life. Five and a half years and four 5Ks, one 8K, one duathlon and two half marathons later, I am not just a recreational runner – I’m hooked on it!
Running is good for my health, both mental and physical. Juggling work and two children is not always easy, but running keeps me sane. It gives me the focus to handle multiple meetings, rehearsals and classes at school. It also gives me the patience I need to handle temper tantrums while I am trying to get dinner on the table. Ever since I was a teenager, I have struggled with my weight. I have tried all the fad diets out there – low-fat, low-carb, no-carb, high protein. The only thing that has allowed me to maintain a healthy weight for the past five years is running. It is an amazing cardiovascular workout. I don’t diet formally now and I have the freedom to indulge in dark chocolate or frozen custard once in a while. I also bounced back from my second pregnancy much more quickly than I did after my first pregnancy, which was before I started running. Going from a size twelve to a size six since I started running has not hurt, but running means so much more to me than that.
My heart, lungs, arms, legs, abdominals, and gluts. You name it; I work it during a run. I always sleep better on days that I jog and it also allows me to maintain a social life. If it weren’t for running, I would barely see some of my friends who often join me for long weekend runs. Finding a great running partner will certainly keep you motivated. Besides the comfort of a well-known companion, you can keep up with the latest events in one another’s lives, as well as, any new Hollywood gossip you may have missed. Between teaching high school students and chasing two very active boys around, I need as much energy as I can get. Running outside in the fresh air first thing in the morning, through the cold, rain, heat or humidity, is completely invigorating. Nobody wants to get out of bed at 5:30 in the morning to run alone when it’s dark and freezing cold outside – pairing the exercise with a great friend keeps me engaged and motivated.
I know my alarm will go off at 5.30am tomorrow morning and the forecast says it will be 41 degrees with a light rain. My schedule will be full, but I know that run will allow me to successfully handle whatever the day brings. I run for my family, my friends, but most of all I run for myself.
I can’t wait.
Kathy Berberian was born and raised in Maryland where she danced with the Montgomery Ballet Company for many years. She received a BFA in Dance from Florida State University where she was a member of the Dance Repertory Theatre and an MA in Dance Education from New York University where she performed with the Washington Square Repertory Dance Company. She taught in Brooklyn for two years before moving to Durham, NC. Kathy taught dance for Durham Public Schools for seven years and is currently a teaching artist for NC Arts in Action as well as the dance instructor at the North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics. Kathy lives in north Durham with her husband, two boys, and their dog and enjoys reading, dancing, and running.