I haven’t really explained what on earth made me decide to train for and run in the Mothers Day Classic 4km Fun Run with four kids aged 8, 7, 7, and 5. Initially, I guess I wanted to share the joy I get from setting a goal, working and training hard, and finally completing the task to the best of my ability. I also wanted them to feel pride in a job well done. Exercise is one of the best ways to make yourself proud….it lies completely in your hands. Run a little faster or a little further, lift heavier, work harder, don’t give in, show up, all of these things build a sense of pride, resilience and self confidence. I wanted to give this to my kids.
My vision was to train regularly as a family and hopefully complete the 4km without stopping. Along the way I also wanted to convince the boys that they wanted to achieve this as well, not just because I wanted them to do it, but because they wanted to achieve it for themselves. An impossible task? Possibly, but give it a go I would. Here’s where it gets tricky, how to convince the boys that this was not just a cruel and unusual form of torture? From the start, I was up front with them that this wouldn’t be easy, that sometimes they wouldn’t feel like running but that we were going to commit to training at least 2x per week until the Mothers Day Classic Fun Run in about 10 weeks time. There are very few sporting activities available in Pannawonica so I also explained that it was a good way keep fit until the football season started and I may have also reminded them of the fun I had doing the Adventurethon last year and wouldn’t they like to be part of something like that? OK, OK, hard sell but they were quite happy to agree to the terms.
I will be honest the first few runs were far from joyful, happy family bonding times….the kids were whinging about sore legs and being short of breath before the first 100m was completed. We set targets for where we would run to each stretch and then that was non negotiable, no stopping before we reached our target. As you can imagine no one felt the same on any given day so negotiating our targets could be quite tricky and were a point of contention that quite often led to tears. Mum or Dad pulled rank more often than not in the early days or we would have walked the whole distance before we could agree on where we were running to.
I find it amazing to look back and see where we started, the boys were shocked if I suggested they run more than 200m and yet most runs now are at least 2km before our first walk. Our pace on the first run was 10.21mins/km for 2.6km whereas our last run together was 7.36mins/km for 3.4km. It really does blow my mind, we are capable of so much more than we think we can.
There were plenty of tears along this journey but I went in with the knowledge that jogging the distances that we would be doing would not hurt the kids, that endurance would improve, and that putting down the technology and getting outside would be nothing but beneficial. I often think that as parents, we want to make things easy for our kids and give them everything, but in doing so we are not giving them the tools to survive the curve balls that life will sometimes throw us. So I didn’t mind them struggling a little with this as I want them to know they can tough things out and get the job done. This may sound a little harsh but it was my gut decision that they weren’t really hurting, just struggling because it was hard initially and they didn’t know how to deal with that. Besides, I figure my kids cry when I ask them to tidy their rooms or put away the technology at times so I took it with a little grain of salt. Looking back I would do the same all over again because they got it. Each time they may have cried, they were able to regroup and they finished the job and were proud of themselves. When they completed a great training run, they knew they had done something fantastic and their little faces would glow.
It wasn’t all tears, especially after the first few weeks they all quite enjoyed the routine of exercising together. We initially split up, with Hubby taking Team Chunky Butts and I took Team Rangas, so it was a little easier to encourage and judge how far to go each time. I loved the chats along the way, I loved when the kids would choose the targets and choose to push that little further, and I loved the end of the run debrief where they would all be trying to tell each other where they went and how far they went today. Many great moments along the way.
All in all it has been a great experience to do as a family and come race day it really doesn’t matter what happens.