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A Seattle mom's secret to scoring some 'me time'

You won't believe what time this mom gets up to work out -- and how much she loves it.


A few Mother’s Days ago, I orchestrated precisely what I wanted on my day: no flowers please, hubs picks up takeout and everyone leaves Mama alone. Ahh, solitude.

On school days, my alarm buzzes at 3:30 am. Not going to lie; I waste an hour scrolling through social media and answering email first. Then I head to the basement to do a couple of miles on the treadmill before the rest of the house wakes up.

I’m not athletic, by any stretch of my yoga pants. In high school, it was a bad day if I broke a sweat in gym class. So why do I wake up in the pre-pre dawn — and for exercise?

It started in college. Initially, money was my motivation. A friend pointed out that the campus gym is free for students, and not going would be like throwing away a free gym membership. Sold!

That first mile was hard. I worked myself up to 1½, then 2 and eventually 6 miles. I rarely took a day off through my 20s. My treadmill time became a part of my routine, like brushing my teeth. When motherhood hit, in between nursing and changing and soothing a baby, that daily run became more crucial. My younger self ran so that I could eat whatever I wanted. A decade and two babies later, it's for the peace and quiet I need.

Real runners scoff at treadmills, but that beast is my best friend. For the chubster who was always the last one picked for a team, treadmill running turned out to the perfect exercise for me for a lot of reasons. It was easy. The only thing I need is a treadmill, space for a treadmill and a pair of sneakers. No classes, no gym membership. I can exercise even if it’s wet or dark out. It’s also motivation to keep going, because if my feet stop or slow down, I fall off the track.

I like that running is a solitary activity. Sure, I could join a running group. Or not. I use the term “running” pretty generously. What I do is more like “heavy lumbering.” Nine-minute, 10-minute, 11-minute miles… It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that no one needs me while I’m plodding along. Sometimes I mentally plan my to-do list for the day, sometimes I pick over some nagging worry. Most of the time, I don’t think about anything at all. I let my mind go blank.

I’m not totally nuts — I go to bed when my kids do, so I get nearly eight hours of sleep. The middle of the night is so quiet, I can hear little snores coming from upstairs. That’s when I unload the dishwasher, pack lunches and yes, hop on the hamster wheel. Getting up at 3:30 am. just to be alone?

Seize the moments where you find them.

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