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Thursday, May 9, 2019 12:01 am

The Mother Runners

Photos courtesy Bridget West

 

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it may be more accurate to say that it takes a village to support a mother. It’s easy to get swept up in the rhythm of family life, no matter what stage of parenting one is in, and forget to look after one’s own needs. Personal care is often thought of in terms of manicures and bubble baths, but more often true personal care is less obvious. While it can look different for every person, it is universally an investment in one’s self, physically and mentally. For moms especially, taking the time to build and nurture positive, empathetic relationships with others is critical to their well-being. However, finding a solid support system of other moms can sometimes be elusive, especially if it’s not even apparent that it’s missing.

Upon completing a 10K race together, longtime friends Bridget West and Tami Hillis were feeling rejuvenated and ready for more.

“We’d both just been running on our own, but then at the last minute we decided to run this race together. We went down to St. Louis, got hotel rooms…made a weekend of it, and we were just shocked at how much fun we had! It was just a 10K, but there’s something about crossing that finish line together. It felt really good,” said West, a mom to three children aged six to 10.

“I only just started running a year ago. I’d never run much more than a mile before,” West told said.  “Then I discovered this thing where if you run longer you can get this runner’s high, and it just feels amazing. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression in the past, and I’ve discovered that a run can totally transform my mood for the day. It’s become very important for me.”  

“I’d had the idea to start a mom’s running group for a while,” said Hillis, also a mother of three and a physician adviser at St. John’s Hospital.   “But I wasn’t sure if anyone else would even be interested. When I mentioned the idea to Bridget, she said she’d been thinking the same thing!”

And so a group called The Mother Runners was born. Hillis and West formed a Facebook group which has grown steadily over the past few months.The group meets weekly on Sundays afternoon in Washington Park, and is hoping add more runs around town as the weather warms up and more moms join the group.  

Photos courtesy Bridget West

“One of the reasons we’re looking to grow is that it’s safer to run in numbers,” West said. “At some point, we’d like to start an early morning group and an evening group because it can be so hard for people who work. We include walkers also, and strollers are absolutely welcome. It’s very inclusive.”

“We’re open to runners, walkers and stand-and-talkers!” Hillis added enthusiastically. “Anyone is welcome.”   

“I love the honesty of the moms in the group,” West continued. “We’re really comfortable being honest about what our struggles are. It’s become a space where we can open up and be really authentic. It’s been such a positive thing in our lives, and we just wanted to share it.”

“This goes beyond just running and exercise,” Hillis explained. “There’s a mental health component here as well. That connection is so important. When you think about your overall health, it’s so much beyond physical. There’s emotional, spiritual and mental health to consider, and you really have to have all those pieces in balance. This group has really become a place where we can all find that balance and grow together.”

The group is planning to participate in the Memorial Medical Transplant 5K in September. For more information on the group, visit their Facebook page: facebook.com/groups/304815660155526/about/.

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