Registered Massage Therapist Mandy Dreyer was already busy when she was balancing her career with being an elite mountain bike racer. Then she added her first daughter to the mix—and twin girls quickly followed. Now, with three kids at home, plus a booming therapy practice, she’s still riding her bike when she can, but she’s found that running has become her go-to when she needs some alone time, or to combine a workout with being outside with the kids.
“My background in sport is in mountain biking and cyclocross,” she says. “I raced at a progressively competitive level for about 15 years. But after having kids, my time was really limited. I found that running offered me the intensity I was looking for and I could get it done in a shorter period of time.”
It wasn’t just the efficiency that made her fall in love with running. As someone who works with movement all day, frequently helping runners rehab from injuries, running fascinated her. “I found that running was this really raw, genuinely honest expression of human movement,” she says. “There’s no bike, there’s no gear to select. It’s just you and the ground.”
She had to add gym work into the mix as well; running, even for someone with elite fitness, is hard on the body. “After three kids, it took a lot longer to recover after pregnancy and get back to functional biomechanics for running,” she says.
While running solo gives Dreyer quiet time, she also loves getting out with the girls on their own bikes, or with friends on the trails in and around Dundas, Ont., and Hamilton. “If I’m with people, it’s great,” she says. “I love community, and being out with friends and running partners to help motivate me. Getting to run with my kids has been super fun and joyful, as well. My older daughter will ride her bike with me and she’ll cheer me on. She likes to say that she is the one who taught me how to run! She just provides a level of entertainment and fun and silliness.”
Micha Jada Powell: Run Your Way
Running your way, to Dreyer, isn’t about running solo–it’s about finding a community. “I think the active community in general is a game-changer for enjoyment of the sport,” she says. “When you find a riding group, whether it’s a casual evening ride or a team, it’s more motivating and exciting. I find you push yourself harder and do things you wouldn’t normally do. With running, I’m finding new communities and people to run with. I generally run with one person at a time, and it’s been fun to get to know people and hear their unique stories.”
Ultimately, for Dreyer, running her way is about exploration. “I asked my daughter this on the way home: What does ‘run your way’ mean? She said, ‘It’s about exploring,’” Dreyer says. “I loved that. So to me, running your own way is exploring the freedom of running–finding the inspiration of running with other people, getting that solo time to recharge. Whether it’s competitive sport or family time or a chance to connect with a friend, I think that everybody’s story is really unique and individual.”