Training Tuesday: The family that runs together

We did it!  Instead of loafing around Saturday morning with the kids watching TV and Jeff and I catching up on sleep, we woke to the 7:10 alarm and laced and velcroed up our sneakers.  My almost 11-year-old was surprisingly excited – you would have thought it was Christmas morning.  We hopped in the car ready for our adventure.  We got to the park, registered and put racing bibs on.  And then we stood in the cold and waited.  Perhaps not wearing coats wasn’t the best idea… but we knew we wouldn’t need them soon.

When it was time, we headed to the starting line.  Knowing we weren’t the fastest, but with plans on running more than walking, we went to the middle of the line.  Next thing we knew the mass of people was moving – we didn’t hear any starting gun.  And so we started going too.  My whole family, all 5 of us, were running in a 5k.   I replaced my goal of improving my 5k time with getting everyone across the finish line.  Through it all, I was reminded of some of the most important lessons I’ve learned about exercise and training.

My 5-year-old did not want to do it.  In our awesome parenting, (said dripping with sarcasm) we did not give him a choice.  And soon into the race, he was crying.  I wonder what it must have felt like… a whole mass of people running and you can’t see anything but the butts of those in front of you.  The start of the race was all uphill and those little legs really had to move.  He was holding onto my hand as he ran.  When the crowd thinned out and we could slow down, the tears began.  Uh oh… what did I do?  Was this OK?  Could he do it?  Should we stop?

Not knowing what to do, I asked him if he wanted to quit.  “No,” he said through tears.  So we kept going.  But then he said he was tired so I pointed to a balloon (the course was lined with balloons) and said, “What if I carry you to that balloon?”  He liked that idea.  So I picked him up.  While I was holding him, he saw all the people that were behind us.  It completely surprised him that he was beating that many people.  This got him a little excited and when I put him down, he started running.  Knowing he wouldn’t be able to run too long, we picked a balloon that we would run to and then we’d take a break and walk for a little.  Then when we were ready we’d start running again until we reached another balloon.  Those little legs worked so hard.  But he really got into it.  The “workers” along the way cheered for him, “Awesome job Flyers guy!”  (He was wearing a flyers sweatsuit.)  It was an “out and back” course so he loved when he saw his dad and brothers running on their way back.   Then he was excited to reach the turnaround himself.  He turned down the cups of water that were being held out and laughed at the boy holding and offering a chunk of snow.   We rotated the walking and the running, with 2 more carries about the distance of home plate to first base.  Of course, the highlight was running through the finish line!  It was probably the most physically difficult thing he’s done.  But he did it – in 55 minutes!  And boy was he proud of himself.  He loved seeing his bib tear off on the finisher’s board.  He loved telling people about it.  There was absolutely no part of him that wanted to do it – but now he’s so glad he did and wants to do it again.  That’s always how I feel about any type of exercise – I never want to do it, and may feel like crying during it, but I’m always proud of myself and glad I did it when I’m done!

My 7-year-old didn’t express too much emotion before the race, so I had no idea how he was feeling except that he was freezing.  His lips were actually blue (I’m such an awesome mom, aren’t I?).  So anyway, I think he was thankful when the race started so he could actually get moving!  My husband, Jeff, ran with him and not me so I can’t go into as much detail.  But, it sounds like Bryan ran a pretty solid race.  He controlled their pace.  He stopped to walk a few times.  And apparently he kicked it into a faster gear on the final leg of the race.  A friend of mine who was running said that towards the end she was being passed by a little kid and laughed that it was him.  (He ended up beating her.)

He finished the race in 33 minutes.  He was all smiles when I saw him.  He also was really proud of himself.  At the awards ceremony he was really hoping to hear his name called even though we told him that he wasn’t going to win anything.  The age group he was in was under 18 – so definitely tough competition.  There were a lot of kids running though, and as his mom, I really wish they would have had a 12 and under category because he would have come in 3rd if they did.  But, they didn’t and so he didn’t get an award.  But he’s still proud of himself.  He ran his own race, not worrying about anyone else’s pace.  He ran a steady race and then to push himself he sped up.  His focus was on doing the best he could, it didn’t earn him an award… but that disappointment was short lived.

My almost 11-year-old was the one I was most worried about finishing.  He describes himself as an “indoor kid” and would much rather be playing video games than outside running around.  Back in the summer he decided that he was going to run this, but was not faithful to his training.  I had no idea how we was going to do, but I figured he’d end up walking most of the way.  Well, like I said, he was the most excited.  The race started and he was off.  For the first mile he was beating all of us, but then Jeff and my 7-year-old caught him and then passed him.  Then he spent the rest of the race trying to catch up to them… but couldn’t.  He finished the race with an impressive time of 41 minutes.  Considering his lack of training, I’m amazed.  But he’s angry, embarrassed, humiliated because his little brother beat him.

So instead of being proud of himself and happy that he actually did it, he was mad.  He didn’t want to talk about the race.  He didn’t want his brother to talk about the race.  He’s not in as good of shape as he wants to be, and the fact that his little brother beat him by 8 minutes showed that.  If his brother hadn’t beat him, instead of being upset about the shape he’s in, he would have been proud of himself for doing it.  But since he had someone to compare to, he didn’t measure up.  I’ve done that.  But I’m learning more and more when trying to get into shape, you have to compete against yourself not others.  Thankfully after his anger settled down, I think he understood that because instead of saying, “I’m never doing that again,” he said, “The next time I run a 5k, I’d rather not have my brothers run it too.”  We smiled, breathed a sigh of relief that he wanted to do it again, and agreed.  He plans on training to beat his time.

So when you’re training, remember: 1.  You may not want to run/swim/turbo-kick/cycle (whatever it is you do).  You might actually cry during it.  But you’ll be glad you did it and proud of yourself for it.  2.  Run your own race – find the pace that works for you and then push yourself to go even faster / longer.  3.  Compete against yourself, work on improving your speed, the length of time you can do something, the distance you can go and don’t worry about what others are doing.

Beyond those lessons, I am so thankful for the experience.  The race was in remembrance and to raise money for my friend who passed away this summer – my friend who was a mom of 3 boys.  So the fact that I was able to run with my husband and 3 boys – that we were all healthy enough and strong enough to do it… I am so thankful for that.  Hope you enjoyed a (lengthy – sorry about that) glimpse of my Saturday, and hope that it encourages you in some way.





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