Being a single parent can be seriously stressful.
You have to deal with the stress of raising your kids, providing as a single parent while also holding a job. There’s a lot of stress involved in being a mother, and even more being a single mother (or single parent).
Running is an activity that can make you a better mother.
Well, nne of the best ways to improve your mood and deal with the stress of single parenthood is to make a regular habit of exercise. There are a lot of benefits to cardiovascular exercise such as running, cycling or other activities that elevate your heart-rate for a sustained period of time (20 minutes or more).
And making a habit of running can activate these endorphin’s, making you a happier person — and a better mother with more patience.
So Why Run?
There are a lot of benefits to running. Some of the include the following:
- improved heart efficiency (you are healthier and more fit)
- weight loss
- development of more leg muscles (toned legs, ladies)
- release of endorphin’s (you feel happier)
Running also helps you burn off a lot of stress and you get some fresh air and see the world a bit. It’s great way to handle a stressful day and your mood will feel much improved after a good run.
What You Need to Start Running
You don’t need a lot to run. In fact, all you need is a good pair of running shoes and a nice wide open space to start running. There are no fees you need to pay per month like you do if you want to work out at a gym and there’s no fancy equipment needed.
Note that we do not suggest you run in a pair of tennis shoes or non-running shoes. The one thing you do need are a pair or running shoes.
How to pick your running shoes
Picking a pair of running shoes is not difficult, if you keep a few things in mind.
1. Know Your Foot Arch type
People generally have three types of arches: high arches (called supination), medium arches (called neutral arches), and overpronation (known as flat feet or low arches). There are specific shoes designed around each of these arch types.
If you wear the wrong shoes for your arch type (and your stride that results from your arch type), you may end up with feet pain during or after your run. In some cases, if you do not change your shoes, you may develop more serious foot pain conditions such as plantar fasciitis. There are other conditions that can be caused by the wrong shoes such as shin splints.
How to pick the right shoes for the right arch type?
There are a number of self-tests you can do. Read this guide by the running shoe company ASICS for a good write about this.
2. Know your foot width
Some people have narrow feet and some people have wide feet. If you have wide feet, you may find many of the regular running shoes you find off the shelf don’t fit well. If this is the case, you need to look for running shoes for wide feet.
3. Consider any pre-existing foot conditions you may have
If you have any knee pain or existing foot pain (such as plantar fasciitis), then you’ll need to get special shoes for to prevent a worsening of the condition. Or you will need to consider looking at another sport like Cycling to do instead of running.
How to Get Started Running from Zero
Assuming you’ve gotten yourself a pair of running shoes, then next step is to step outside and start running. Now, you’ll need to find a place to run. We personally recommend a park as a good staring area. There are usually lots of long paved (or dirt) trails around parts that are friendly for runners — as long as the parks are well lite with people around.
We don’t recommend as a single mother to run alone in an empty part or in areas where there are no people around.
When you first start running, you may be worried that you are not fit enough to start. The good news is that running is not difficult and as long as you start off slowly, over time you can dramatically improve your ability to run longer and harder.
You can literally go from couch potato to marathon runner over a period of months!
Generally, we recommend about an 8 week interval period for running — over 8 weeks of pushing your body, you should see a lot of improvements.
The key is to run two times a week and extend your running time by five minutes each week. After the third week, you move to 3 times a week.
So here’s what we mean:
- Week 1: Run for 10 minutes, twice a week
- Week 2: Run for 15 minutes, twice a week
- Week 3: Run for 20 minutes. twice a week
- week 4: Run for 25 minutes, twice a week
- Week 5: Run for 30 minutes, three times a week
- Week 6: Run for 35 minutes. three time a week
- Week 7: Run for 40 minutes, three times a week
- Week 8: Run for 45 minutes, three times a week
- Week 9: Run for 50 minutes, four times a week
- Week 10: etc,
You can, of course, just head outside and run as much as you feel like, but we recommend sticking to an actual running training plan which is designed to maximize your running ability given the time. If you just go run and don’t keep track of your time or push your effort each week by a bit, you won’t see improvements after you get used to your current run level.
There’s a lot of information about setting up a running program. You can read this guide for more info.
What About the Kids?
If you are a single mother / single parent, you have kids in the equation and may not just be able to easy head out to go running whenever you wish, with little ones to care for. It may even more more difficult if you have a full time job as a single parent too.
Here are a couple tips on how to manage kids and running:
- ask family to help watch the kids
- Get a running buggy to put your child in and push them while running
- go running at night when the kids are sleeping (provided you can run in a safe area like a treadmill)
- consider buying a treadmill to put in your home so you can run at home while the kids are there
- wake up early to go running (before kids have to go to school)
- go running while kids are at school
- exchange in kid share programs with friends / neighbors where you can drop your kids off at someone else’s house and they do the same, a couple times a week
While you may find your time a bit strapped if you are a single mother, we encourage you to start running just a couple times a week if you can find a way to make it happen. The rewards are worth the effort. Taking control of your health and fitness is one of the best things you can do FOR yourself.
Being healthier and fitter will make YOU happier which will mean you can be a better mother to your kids.
So start running for health, for happiness, and for your kids!
You’ll thank us you did!