There is nothing quite like popping in my headphones and setting out for a good run. With the pavement at my feet and the warm sun on my back—in that moment, everything feels right in the world.

Running is my ‘thing’—it always has been. I fell in love with running when I was 15, and the love and connection I have with it has only grown deeper through the years—especially since becoming a mother.

As someone who dreads going to the gym, running has always given me a way to exercise both physically and mentally.

Running throughout my pregnancy made me feel empowered and strong.

Running after my son was born helped me stay sane.

Running now makes me feel inspired and peaceful.

When my days feel chaotic (which is fairly often) and it seems as though I am drowning in responsibility, a quick 20-minute run can immediately shift my mood and my perspective. For me, it’s an immediate mood booster.

As soon as I lace up my shoes, I can start to feel a sense of relief that I’ll soon be breathing in fresh air and letting go of the feelings that sometimes consume me.

Running is my time to reflect, to escape the judgement of the world and to allow myself to just be.

Being the introvert that I am, I need time alone to process—to really feel and to work through the emotions that I tend to push aside.

I need a judgement-free zone, and the road gives me that.

The road doesn’t care whether I have showered recently or if I’ve gained weight.

The road doesn’t care if I run a nine-minute mile or a 12-minute mile.

The road is always waiting for me, and always embraces me—tears and all.

Running is my meditation, my way of reconnecting with my faith, and the reminder that life is beautiful—even when it feels dark and empty.

Despite the intensity of running, it brings me immense peace. Finding a quiet moment at home to meditate or pray often feels impossible. I am always anticipating the door barging open because #boymom, and anyway, I’m certain children have some kind of sixth sense when their mom is attempting alone-time. Their feelers go off and they’re on the hunt for you.

I live near the ocean, and the beauty of the water paired with the sound of the waves crashing as I run along our local beach does something to my soul that I can’t even explain. God always meets me there and for me, that is just enough to remind me that I am not alone and that I can do this.

Running helps me feel strong and powerful.

I’ll never forget the moment I crossed the finish line at my first half marathon. I felt like a total mom boss. I had never felt as accomplished as I did in that moment—I’m pretty sure I even cried.

It proved to me that limitations exist only when you let them exist. And as a mom, I felt so proud that my son was able to watch me accomplish a dream of mine. A lesson he will hopefully remember when he feels like giving up.

Running has allowed me to explore, to travel. And in the thousands of miles I have run, I have seen incredible beauty.

It is fuel for my body and my spirit. For me— it is a necessity in my life, because without it I am not the mom or wife that I am capable of being.

Running has given me so much.I am so grateful for this ‘thing’ that is mine and mine alone. With my shoes and an open road, I feel empowered, inspired and ready to handle anything that life brings my way. ?