Mary Feely: Mums of Ireland, I know what you're really running from
I can't walk out for the Sunday papers without dodging mums in Lycra.
They may be running alone or in a pack; they may be training for a mini-marathon or simply keeping fit.
Our roads, parks and beaches are buzzing with them.
Don't ask me how I know they're mothers; I just do.
It could be my antennae twitching, telling me I'm among my kind.
Or maybe my tip-off is the serene smile beneath the sweat of each runner-of-a-certain-age.
Male runners, whether young or old, tend to look pained. But mammies on a run are blissed out.
Oh, their knees may ache a little. Their vision may be blurred by bugs diving to a kamikaze death in their eyes. So what? They're feeling just fine, thanks.
Running puts us -- yes, of course I'm a mum who runs myself -- in a good mood for all sorts of reasons.
For a start, it gives us a socially acceptable reason to get out of the kitchen on a lovely evening. "Just going for a run, darling, could you keep an eye on the kids?" works in a way that "Just popping down to the pub, darling" never would.
Then there's the sheer relief of escaping to a world where you hear no whingeing. None.
Running suits mothers because it requires no messing about. It's so much simpler than driving to a gym or pool.
Once you've done the stretches and the warm-up, you're off. You can be back home half an hour later and be towelling off after your shower in no time.
And then you feel fantastic.
There's a scientific explanation for it: the exertion releases feelgood endorphins into your bloodstream.
So a run's almost guaranteed to leave you feeling cheerful.
Another plus for mums is that running helps us sleep better, by lessening the adrenaline in our systems.
Considering that insomnia is a professional hazard of parenthood, this can only be a good thing.
I could go on about the various health benefits, but there's another reason why running gives women my age a lift.
The best, most wonderful part about running is that we're supposed to eat lots of carbs to provide fuel for our runs.
Is it any wonder running puts us in a good mood?
In a world where otherwise rational women are eating hamburgers without the bun at this very moment, we runners are in a very different place.
We're being told that brown bread, spuds, bananas -- the very foods that, in my opinion, make life worth living -- should make up a good chunk of our diets.
As for lovely, comforting pasta, it's often described as the runner's food of choice. Oh yes!
Right now lots of us are training for runs that will raise money for charity.
I'm planning on taking part in a 10k run in aid of GOAL over the May bank holiday weekend in Drogheda.
Lots of mothers will run in the Women's Mini Marathon in June to raise funds for hospitals, dog shelters, rape crisis centres and other good causes.
But we also run to keep our own spirits up -- a most deserving good cause in its own right.