Running Away During COVID

running - Boston Moms

My stress and anxiety were growing. My pants were getting tighter. The numbers on the scale were increasing. I knew I had to do something about it.

I had my first child at 35 — what is called a “geriatric pregnancy.” At the time I was working an incredibly stressful and very demanding job. I would often turn to junk food as my vice, telling myself I was eating for two so it was OK. But the stress was constant, so we’re talking fast food and ice cream every other day.

Post-partum, I lost some of the weight through breastfeeding, but when that stopped I felt like I was back at square one. I didn’t really have the time to join a gym when I was dealing with daycare drop-offs and commuting into the office for work full time.

A year and a half after giving birth, the pandemic hit and I was suddenly working from home and taking care of a toddler. Stuck in our apartment non-stop and eating more junk food, I re-gained any pregnancy weight I had lost — and then some.

When things calmed down a bit and my son returned to daycare, I knew it was time to take charge and make some serious changes. Going to a gym and having to work out with a mask on did not seem like a great fit. And buying large equipment or doing serious cardio workouts was not ideal for our current third-floor apartment situation. But there was always walking and… maybe running?

Growing up, I was never into sports. Nothing about it interested me, and gym was always the class I dreaded. By high school, I was the real-life Daria, throwing my arm out for the volleyball well after it sailed past me. (Except I was actually trying to hit it.) But one of the few exercises I actually did not mind was the 20-minute run in junior high gym class. I wasn’t the fastest, but I was consistent. And it was a solitary sport. Perfect for someone who was often picked last due to less-than-stellar athletic abilities.

I ran a few 5Ks pre-pregnancy and enjoyed it, but juggling motherhood and a full-time job made it difficult to continue participating — until COVID struck and I discovered virtual races.

I signed up for several. The swag was a big incentive. But the races also helped keep me motivated and on track with exercising regularly. Mapping out my mileage required a bit of trial and error. But once I found a route that worked, there was no stopping me. Sure, the lack of a post-race celebration is a downside when you’re doing a virtual run. Yes, I could walk around my apartment wearing a medal and drinking a craft beer, but it’s not quite the same. But I’m hopeful that I will get to run an in-person race sometime in the future. And for now, I’ll use my virtual races as training.

Lesley grew up in New Bedford, MA, moved to Boston for college and has stayed here ever since. She holds a Masters degree in Criminal Justice and an MFA in Creative Writing. Lesley is a playwright, several of her ten minute plays have been produced throughout New England and two are published in the anthology, More 10-Minute Plays for Teens. Lesley lives in Dorchester with her family. She is mom to a happy and babbling 5 month old son. Likes: Netflix binges, wine, story time with her baby, makeup, and Ryan Gosling. Dislikes: mushrooms, traffic, and getting called ma'am.