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In new book, moms write about joys, challenges of running

PHOTO: GILLIAN JONES~AP

Running looks like just another way to stay fit to those who don’t do it.

Those who do will tell you it is so much more than that. Especially the moms.

That’s what’s at the heart of “Tales From Another Mother Runner” (Andrews McMeel, $14.99). It’s edited by runners Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, the collaborators known for anothermotherrunner.com.

In “Tales” they’ve collected stories — some, very personal — and advice from mothers who run about the experiences they’ve had putting one foot in front of the other.

If you’re a mom who has have never run before and need inspiration, this is the book for you. As the writers often tell you, they are the last person anyone, even themselves, might expect to run. But they do, sometimes embracing running in the most unlikeliest moments — such as when Alisa Bonsignore explains in her essay that “during the haze of labor” she said to her husband: “If I live through this, I’m running a half-marathon.’’ Who does stuff like that? Moms who run.

They are a special breed, because oftentimes getting a run in involves more than putting on a pair of shoes and hitting the road. They have to juggle their running in between their spouse’s jobs, their careers, the kids, homework and a host of other commitments.

Yet they get it done, because running does something very personal for them. As Chicago-based Nicole Knepper’s explains in her essay (“Running for My Life”), she returned to running to help combat depression and the autoimmune diseases that plagued her parents and other older relatives.

Like I said before, running does much more than build strong bodies. It helped mend the damaged marriage of Heather Johnson Dorocher, who explained how in her essay: “Through miles and miles, I’ve processed and reflected and thought and dreamed in entirely eye-opening and (sweat-drenched) cleansing ways. … I brought this back to my marriage.”

Besides the candid personal essays, mom runners give shorter answers on everything from what the first mile they ran felt like to what’s the most challenging aspect of running and how they combat it. In sore of the essays as well, the moms explain how they improved their time or their confidence, for example. And they aren’t all serious; there’s many a funny experience as well.

I didn’t read the book cover to cover. Instead, I’d just randomly pick an essay or one of the questions and enjoyed hearing the women discuss the trials as well as the victories they’ve experienced. Each time I got a different little treat.

This is a thought-provoking collection, filled with good running advice, too. Give it a look.