A new running group is giving local moms the safety, camaraderie, and drive to pursue their shared passion.
Beth Patterson started the Falls Church/Annandale chapter of Moms RUN This Town, a free club with chapters across the nation bringing together mothers who enjoy running. Patterson was originally part of another chapter, but after moving to Annandale in the fall, decided that her new community could benefit from starting another chapter. The Falls Church/Annandale chapter was founded in February, and since then has grown to more than 30 members.
Patterson originally joined Moms RUN This Town to find a partner to help motivate her during practice runs in preparation for a marathon. Patterson works in human resources, and is mother to 20-month-old Lucia. Her schedule is busy; who better to understand that than a fellow mother?
“For working moms, it’s sometimes more of a struggle to get your run in when you have to be at work at 8,” Patterson said. “It’s nice to be able to relate and bond with other people who know how busy daily schedules can be.”
Through the club’s Facebook group, members are able to coordinate running times by inquiring if one of the dozens of group members is free.
Patterson also takes comfort in the safety in numbers running with partners provides. Sometimes the runners in the group meet for early-morning runs, the only time they can get their exercise in before their kids wake up and they have to get to work. But even in broad daylight, incidents of harassment and assault have occurred locally around running trails and Patterson prefers not to run alone so as to protect herself from dangerous situations.
“Any time I run, I try to go out with someone else,” Patterson said.
Beyond the security, Patterson has found that running with the group has motivated her to improve her skill. She looks forward to the runs because she’s meeting up with friends, and they catch up on all the latest goings-on in their lives while they run. It also helps with consistency to be accountable to another runner, to set a meet-up time and not break it.
But it’s not just experienced runners who are part of the group. The moms in the local chapter range from beginners to marathon runners. Patterson says all are welcome regardless of their skill level, and runners who are just starting can count on advice and support from the club’s veteran runners.
The group includes working moms like Patterson and stay-at-home moms like Suzanna O’Shea. O’Shea moved to Vienna in January and says that running with the group has helped her to learn about her new community, especially in regard to good trails that she wouldn’t have known about had it not been for her running partners.
“It’s something that’s made me very happy, and made my move here a little bit better,” O’Shea said.
While O’Shea runs with the group for some me-time, she also takes her daughter out for runs. The group coordinated participation in a Mother’s Day run last weekend, and 6-year-old Faith ran a one-mile course with her mom. Moms in the group can plan kid-free runs or bring their children along, sometimes in jogging strollers.
“It’s nice to see so many kids out there, and for me to see my daughter so happy being outside running instead of wanting to come home and watch TV,” O’Shea said.
Already O’Shea and Patterson are reaping the rewards of running with the group. Patterson has posted improved 5K and half-marathon times, and O’Shea says she’s become not just a better runner, but a better mother because of the patience she gets from fitting those runs into her schedule.
“It’s a good way to get out there and meet other moms who are doing the same thing that you’re doing,” O’Shea said. “Wherever you’re at, there’s somebody there that will be able to run with you.”
For more information about the Falls Church/Annandale chapter of Moms RUN This Town, visit facebook.com/groups/FallsChurch.VA.MRTT.