The many benefits of running…

Marathon

This year’s NYC Marathon

Today was a gorgeous day in New York. Bright, sunny and cold. The perfect day for a run. So I pulled on my ‘sneakers’ (yes I have adopted that American term for trainers), and headed out to the park. It wasn’t a big run – I’m still doing a recovery plan after getting a stress fracture on my foot, but even a short run in the glorious weather was enough to give my mood a huge boost.

I joined New York Road Runners earlier this year, and completed my first 5-mile race in the sweltering heat of a New York City June. It was hard, but I loved it. And since fracturing my foot and not getting out there I can definitely feel the difference – physically and mentally.

Despite not running much at all, I was also lucky enough to get out and support a couple of good friends who ran the New York City Marathon this year – one of these fantastic women does it every year (apart from when she was pregnant so we can let her off for that!) and for the other it was her first time. Both did amazingly well and I’m so proud of them. I’m a long way behind them, but maybe someday…

a picture of me after my first 5 mile race in Central park.

After my first 5-mile run… on a very hot day!

Running also helps take my mind elsewhere, and whilst out there I was thinking about a great guy doing some fantastic work helping kids (and adults) get and stay fit in the UK. He often comments on how physical activity can make a real difference to kids – confidence and behavior-wise. So today, whilst running, I figured that a donation to the NYRR Youth and Community Services programs would be a good thing to do. The programs help people of all ages and abilities lead healthier, more active lives. The organization reaches more than 100,000 children each year, helping them to get moving, set goals and develop healthy habits.

I already felt good from my run this morning, the donation just doubles that good feeling.

Speaking of running… my ideas are running a little low now we’re getting towards the end of the advent period, so let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.

From small acorns

Today I almost failed. But then again, today was more about being a friend, helping out someone when they needed it. By 5pm this evening I still hadn’t figured out what I was going to do.  But then again, today I heard a lovely story from that same friend about a tree in Central Park. It’s a tree that is very special to them, it’s where they got engaged, and where they found out whether their first child was a girl or a boy… They asked the doctor to write it down for them, then put it in a sealed envelope and waited until Christmas, and then took it to the tree to open it. They did the same with the second baby. It’s such a wonderful story, and a great way to find out don’t you think?

We too have a special tree. That one is in our backyard in the UK. When my little one was really young it was the best way to calm him down. We’d go to the back of the garden and sit under the tree, looking up at the swaying branches and the sky. It always worked. So much so, that on his first day of nursery school I told the teachers that if he got upset to take him out to the yard and look at trees. And they did.

My friend’s story of her special tree inspired me to make a donation to Million Trees NYC – an organization with an ambition aim to plant and care for one million new trees across the City’s five boroughs over the next 10 years. 70% of these will be in parks, on streets and other public spaces, and the rest will come from private and community organizations, and homeowners.

It was only a small donation, but as the saying goes: ‘From small acorns…’

A donation to my own back yard

When we left the UK, the thing I was most worried about was not having a garden. With a  dog and a 2 year old, it seemed like a pretty important thing to have. Luckily, we now have a huge, 843-acre back yard…  with 21 playgrounds, 2 ice rinks, a zoo, a real live turtle pond, a boat house and so much more…it’s called Central Park.

Dog in the snow in Central Park

Our dog enjoying a snowy Central park

We go there at least once a day – in sunshine, rain, snow, hail, wind… and every day we love it. I recently noticed some great ads in the park which alerted me to the fact that the park relies on donations from the public to keep it looking it’s best. Central Park Conservancy is a non-profit organization that contributes more than 80% of Central Park’s $37.5 million annual budget. So today’s one good thing is a donation to ‘my own back yard’.

Autumn in Central Park

Autumn in Central Park

The best bit is, that from now until December 31st, a group of generous donors will match every dollar donated, up to $250,000. So my $50 donation (which works out at less than 14 cents per visit for us) has been doubled to $100. If you’d like to join me and donate to America’s most visited park, you can do so here.

I know my money will be well spent. Soon, Conservancy Staff will shovel up to 6.5 million cubic feet of snow from 58 miles of Central Park paths, put down 80,000 pounds of sand to keep the paths safe, and hang 18,000 lights in Harlem Meer for us all to enjoy.

Central Park Zoo

Family fun at the Central Park Zoo.

We’re lucky to have such an amazing back yard. It’s important to help keep it that way.