The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

the sugar shover who might be a runner

It’s 5:45 a.m. and the alarm won’t shut up. For that matter I can’t even find it to ask nicely. It’s time for my morning run and for the life of me I can’t remember why I decided this was a good idea. At 5:45 a.m.

20 minutes later and a mile down the road it comes to me.

The breeze is gentle, the houses are quiet, the birds are my only companions. No children with their noses and knees and needs. No email. No carpool line. No bills.


Ah yes, there I am. Now I remember.

By now you non runners have either a) written me off as one of those crazy types or b) scanned the post for a giveaway and, seeing none, are about to click on to the next blog.


See, I’m actually highly unqualified to write this post. I inhale massive amounts of refined sugar on a daily basis (even stooping so low as to take a spoon to the icing tub I have secretly stashed in my refrigerator), I have no previous athletic prowess unless you count the state championship volleyball team that I spent three years of high school sitting the  bench for, and prior to the birth of my second child my idea of running was through the house to find the aforementioned tub of icing. I am not an athlete.

Lover of run-on sentences? Yes. Athlete? No.

But this running thing? Turns out I dig it.

It started as a means to lose my baby weight back in 2007 after I gained, oh, (cough, cough) 50+ pounds growing my son. That Couch to 5K thing really works people! After a painful 8 or so weeks I could run for 30 minutes without stopping. But still, it was a means to an end. I was running with an old pair of shoes and an earbud in each ear, wishing every minute of it would just go away.  I was sporadic at best and while, yes, I lost the baby weight I most definitely didn’t have the bug.

It wasn’t until I started setting goals for myself that I really found enjoyment in the sport. I started with a 5k and when I finished it you would have thought I had completed a marathon in under 3 hours. I was exceedingly proud of my sugar-shoving, bench-warming self. Earlier this year I decided to set my sights on a 10k and googled until I found a training plan that I thought would work for me. After a particularly enjoyable run one morning I decided to search for half marathon training plans. I was delighted/terrified to find one that seemed to be a logical extension of the 10k training I was already doing. And I started it.

I ditched the earbuds, bought a new pair of shoes, put the 10k in my rearview mirror and started running.

It’s November 13th and I’m shaking in my shoes. I’m not an athlete, remember?

But as it turns out, I just may be a runner.

If you’re wondering how to incorporate running/fitness into your life here are some things that have worked for me:

  • Set goals. Start small to allow for success. Lofty goals are easy to break and baby steps are easy to achieve.
  • Sit down with your partner to figure out your fitness regimen together. Having someone on your side who respects your desire to reach a goal will not only motivate you but also validate your need for healthy “me” time.
  • Choose the time of day that works best for your personality. If you lose steam by 4:00 don’t plan to exercise in the evenings. Likewise if mornings give you the willies opt for an evening workout time.
  • Plan ahead to avoid excuses. I lay my clothes and shoes out the morning before my run so I don’t get exasperated and give up at 5:45 when I’m pawing in the dark for my gear.
  • If you choose to run, use a site like to help plan your routes ahead of time.

I’d love to hear the ways that you motivate yourself to stay on track with your fitness plan. And advice for first time 5k/10k/half marathoners is of course VERY welcome!

About Erin

Erin has been a mama for six years, a blogger for five, and professional photographer for four. She hopes to be all of those things for at least another 50. She’s passionate about her family, her friends, bright colors and shooting jpeg (what?!). Erin is also the creative force behind the highly acclaimed Clean Color video editing tutorial. Those are the things that feed her soul but Erin says writing about them feels like the dessert. Erin makes her home and runs her business in Huntsville, Alabama.

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  • erin cobb

    You guys are awesome! Thanks so much for encouraging one another…and me!

    Amanda, I used to listen to Pandora while I ran but I got tired of the same loop of songs. I also found that I set my pace based on the music that was playing and I got annoyed by that. I decided to try it without music and realized that I really loved it. I’m not good at being quiet so the forced silence is actually really great for me. =)

  • Katie M.

    If you wake up early and don\’t feel like running:
    For me, if I run in the morning I feel good about myself the rest of the day. I have more energy and feel like I\’ve accomplished something. What\’s even better (for me), I feel thin! And even if I\’m just wearing jeans and a T-shirt I feel like I look like a Victoria\’s Secret model… even if it isn\’t actually true. :) That is why it\’s worth getting up at 5:15 to run.

  • Katie M.

    If you wake up early and don’t feel like running:
    For me, if I run in the morning I feel good about myself the rest of the day. I have more energy and feel like I’ve accomplished something. What’s even better (for me), I feel thin! And even if I’m just wearing jeans and a T-shirt I feel like I look like a Victoria’s Secret model… even if it isn’t actually true. :) That is why it’s worth getting up at 5:15 to run.

  • Joan Brochman

    I am soooo happy to hear that someone else hids a tub of frosting in the fridge!!!!

  • Amanda

    Good for you! Just curious…why’d you ditch the earbuds? Music is a big help to me when I run.

  • Emily

    OK, I’ll say it. I am a runner. I run 3-4 days per week and go to spinning class at least 1 day per week.

    I’ve finished 7 marathons, 6 or 8 half marathons and several other distances, too. I like training more than I like racing because I like having a daily accomplishment that has nothing to do with work or housework or my family or anything other than I got out there and did something for me.

    I found my active self in my mid-twenties. I was NOT an athletic kid AT ALL. I taught myself to run by downloading some of the training programs. For me, it’s at least as mental as it is physical, though the physical benefits cannot be denied.

    Nice going getting yourself out of bed and onto the road this morning! The best time of day is when the world is just waking up and you’re already cruisin’ along.

  • stacy krager

    Okay, I started reading this this morning and thought…hey! um, did I accidentally submit some kind of crazy diary entry to Angie for TCM!? Uncanny how similar this story is to mine. Even the icing….sigh. I began the couch to 5k program around a year ago and completed my first 5k last October. Just like the other women, I am/was probably the complete opposite of a runner. hated it with a passion. But for some reason, when my neighbor forced me to begin the couch to 5k program with her, it stuck. And it is the greatest feeling :). Loved this Erin!

  • Nicole

    I just finished the 5K at Disneyland last week and it was such an amazing feeling. Running through the disney parks is such motivation and they have cast members as well as characters everywhere you look. It\’s an absolutely incredibly fun way to run. I think you\’ll really enjoy it!

    I didn\’t start running until a few months ago and having never been a runner or enjoyed running before I\’ve really found myself enjoying it. I love being outside and enjoying the peace and quiet.

  • Nicole

    I just finished the 5K at Disneyland last week and it was such an amazing feeling. Running through the disney parks is such motivation and they have cast members as well as characters everywhere you look. It’s an absolutely incredibly fun way to run. I think you’ll really enjoy it!

    I didn’t start running until a few months ago and having never been a runner or enjoyed running before I’ve really found myself enjoying it. I love being outside and enjoying the peace and quiet.

  • Angela

    Erin congrats on signing up for your half! I just completed my first one over Labor Day. It was probably the most proud I have been in a while. I trained hard, and pushed through injury to cross that finish line. I can’t wait to read about your race! I am telling you, you will be so happy. Just remember, have fun!

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  • Aimee

    Thanks for posting this! I am NOT at all a runner but in July I decided that it was time to drop some weight so I joined a gym and have been taking classes 4-5 days a week. I have lost 16 lbs and think that I am ready (physically and mentally) to give running a try. Just for extra motivation. I signed up for the Disney Princess 1/2 marathon weekend (I am only doing the 5k) with some girlfriends. I have printed off the couch potato to 5K plan and am beginning my training. I don’t love much about the run right now but I feel like I will get there. Great to read about your experience – it reminds me that others were in my same boat and are now able to get some actual enjoyment out of running!

  • Hannah

    This is a really encouraging post. I have always liked the idea of being a runner, but each time I attempt it I get very painful side cramps and just wimp out. I’m sure they would go away once my body got used to running, but I have never made it that far. I am really wanting to give it another go soon though- I need the activity and endorphins :)

  • Lucy

    I love this post.
    I used to run on an almost daily basis (though I’d never really call myself a runner) and fell out of it when I graduated college, and traded my free gym for a real work schedule. I so badly want to get back into it, but lack motivation (and proper shoes!). But this was really inspiring. Maybe I’ll start tomorrow with a short run.

  • Bree

    I could have written this post, although I do not get up at 5:45. I too started using Couch to 5K and it was the best thing ever. I am training for my first race which is a 10K on Thanksgiving Day.

  • Mindy

    I have been an on-again, off-again runner and am currently quite off, but this is encouraging me to get up and get out there again. My friend Lisa has been all over me about Erin Cobb and how fantastic she is – so I’ve loved your photography, but I didn’t know you were a runner as well! Thanks for the post!

  • Kelly

    From one sugar-shover to another, thank you for the encouragement! When we were talking this morning, I kept thinking that everything you were saying, I too could say about running. I have found this go-around with the C25K program, that making a commitment with a group of people is holding me accountable. I don’t want to be the one that doesn’t show up or quits. Hopefully, when I see you in Nov. I can report good progress!

  • traci

    I run better in the evening then in the morning.
    I used to run w/o listening to anything but I didn’t enjoy it, but before I didn’t have an iphone with pandora either :)

  • Colleen Sheehy

    Hey Erin! I am so not a runner. But listen to this, I wish I could be. The thought of having a few minutes alone and helping my body at the same time really appeals to me. I’ll have to think on this a bit more. :)

  • Juliann Munson

    I agree completely with having goals set, it really motivated me to get out the door. I also found that having a friend to run with is so nice. That friend not only pushes you, but you get to get some girl time in and you can’t bail on a friend. I finished my first half marathon after only starting to run 2 months prior (and I hadn’t run for over 3 years). Anyone can do it!

  • Cara

    OMG, this sound like me. I am training for a 5K in the end of October (i have pregnancy weight to shed and my baby is 2 1/2) . I am getting there and I am so stoked. I am not an athlete or a runner (yet). I am hoping to really get into it as a way of exercise. I love the early morning too, but right now I am going right after work before i get my kids.
    Wish me luck. I so wanted to run the whole 3.1 miles non-stop.
    Any advice on controlling your breathing? I find that I can go farther but i lose control of my breathing.

  • Karen

    I thought I hated running. Then after my second child was born and life got a little crazy, I picked up running. Like you, to lose the baby weight. But then (the best part of all), I realized the time I spent running was MY time. Just me, my Ipod, beautiful scenery and my thoughts. It became the best part of my day and when I returned home from the run I was a happier person.
    Last Thanksgiving I ran an 8K – it was an awesome experience! The best advice I ever got (from a two time half marathon runner who is also a mom) was this: If you can run without stopping for 20 minutes you can continue running for at least 20 MORE minutes.

  • Erin

    Wow Lorena…I had no idea. I’m so proud of you!

    I love that there are so many of us these days who are willing to dip our toes into something so unknown. It’s a beautiful thing!

  • Lorena Mora

    I am no athlete, but I once emailed Erin to ask how she had lost all the baby weight as she looked amazing. She pointed me in the direction of Couch to 5K and I thought to myself I can’t do it, I don’t run. I started it, then stopped, then started it, then stopped. I recently started it again, and this time I did an actual 5K, not as fast as I would’ve hoped for a faster time, but guess what? I am still running, not fast but I do it at least 3 days a week, my days off from work. I am planning to increase it to more days as I work my schedule around, so thank you Erin, it took me a while but on it now.

  • Jane

    I would love to be able to bottle of the scent of a little one- the sweet smell like no other other in the world. And maybe a snuggle blanket for me that is just as soft as the sweet fuzz of their cheeks.

  • Amy Nabors

    I can completely identify with the tub of icing in the fridge. I started trying to run a bit at the beginning of summer. My sister runs 1/2 marathons and while I don’t plan to ever run one I did want to try running. I walk almost every day, but running was never my thing. So I started trying to run a tiny bit during each walk and ended up with shin splints. I’ve spent the summer trying to let them heal and doing exercises to help them. I’m just back to running a tenth of a mile at a time during my 3 or 4 mile walk and hoping to add a little each day. Thank you for sharing these encouraging words today.

  • Jennifer

    I love this post!! I love to run too!!
    I just challenged myself to run 10 miles on 10-10-10…it is a BIG stretch, but I\’m going to try! :)
    oh and P.S. sugar is my weakness too!

  • Jennifer

    I love this post!! I love to run too!!
    I just challenged myself to run 10 miles on 10-10-10…it is a BIG stretch, but I’m going to try! :)
    oh and P.S. sugar is my weakness too!

  • Lori

    I laughed when my chiropractor told me I should train for a 5K. She had only done a few adjustments on me after the first of the year and for some crazy reason I had this insane desire to run during my morning walk on the treadmill. So I laughed. This was February. I started the Couch to 5K program and in July I ran my first 5K, and I never stopped to walk. I also wouldn’t call myself a runner, but I love the feeling I get when I do. I stopped running consistently after that 5K (for various reasons), and when I had to walk during the next 5K I ran in August (although, I still beat my previous time) I was discouraged. But I started running with a friend, and she has kept me motivated to continue to wake up when the alarm goes off at 5:30am. And get this, I can even run while holding a conversation!!

  • Tammy

    I think you described it perfectly! I too was not a long distance runner, I was an athlete… in High School, but had not done a whole lot since then. I’m lucky to have a husband that needs to exercise daily too. We do it together. We motivate each other to keep pushing. When first starting to run we would set mini goals like we’ll run to that stop sign up there then walk to the pool & then run through the nature trail & walk when we get to the cross road, etc. It really helped to build up our endurance in the beginning.

  • LauraC

    On the half marathon front, my two biggest pieces of advice are to make sure you get ALL your training in and don’t do anything new on the day of the race. By getting your training in, race day will feel relatively easy. And doing something new… bad idea. At that length you could subject yourself to chafing (new clothes) or runner’s bowels (new foods) or injury.

    I’ve been running for years and this year I finally tried recovery drinks. I can not believe the difference they made!! I’ve only tried Hammer Recoverite but I chug it after a long run and it feels like I didn’t run at all. I’m still tired but no aches. That is HUGE after a 13 mile training run and coming home to hang out with twin four year old boys.

    Anyway AWESOME for you. What has worked this year to keep me motivated is a year-long challenge I’m doing with my friend Erin. We both use Nike+ so we don’t have to map out runs ahead of time. We challenged each other to a 500 mile race, starting Jan 1. We invited any friends to join along and we have 60 people! I have never been so motivated to run and everyone is already talking about making it bigger in 2011. I hit 500 miles in August and am still going!