Keeping the kids moving!

Keeping the kids moving!


Keeping the kids moving!

26 July 2020

I've been an on-again-off-again runner since Uni: treadmills first, and the odd beach run with friends. Then I started dating an avid runner - 10k races on weekends, half-marathon training plans, marathon aspirations, Runners World Magazine subscriber. It was his thing. When we got married we would run to the gym together twice a week, do some weights and then run back, but generally I didn't like running with him. I felt slow and unfit, and the one time he made me do hill sprints we were about an inch away from divorce! I've done one half marathon and a couple of 10K races, with quite respectable times, I could run a 5K without really thinking about it. But running has never been my "thing". I like that I can do it; you know, that I could run away from a bear if the need arose, but I'm never going to be Kelly Holmes.

Since becoming a mother, it has been important - necessary, really - for my fitness to be something that happens at home, and is as flexible as possible, to fit around naps, and bedtimes, and school runs, and play dates. And as a young widow, dealing with a small child on my own, it would have been impossible to go out for a run, ever!

But this week I bought a running buggy.....

I know....

Don't worry - I'm not giving up my regularly scheduled Tracy Anderson Method...I think I'd probably have a nervous breakdown if I had to do that.

But as parents there are times when we have to re-jig the way we normally like to do things because of the needs of our children. And, let's face it, as mothers we do this every damn day! The pandemic has brought many changes into our household, on top of the massive change that having a 2nd baby after eight years already brings. Ethan goes to an incredible school in Newbury, where physical exercise and skills are an incredibly important part for the curriculum. (Some time soon I'm going to write something for you about the differences between generations in how PE and sport has been dealt with in schools, but that's for another day.) He has four Games lessons a week, each lasting around an hour and a half. He spends break and lunchtimes running around their beautiful fields and climbing on their adventure playground. He is incredibly lucky. Since his school closed just after his birthday in March, he has done none of that. The online skills and fitness lessons the PE department posted were fabulous, but we have a fairly small garden, and it's quite hard to help your son practice sprints or cricket bowling with a small baby on your hip. His online lesson schedule also never matched up with Erica's lack of a nap schedule, meaning when he was free to get out of the house she was sleeping, and when she was up and raring to go, he was having a Microsoft Teams English lesson. We've gone for lovely long walks at weekends and the odd evening, but his physical activity level has gone through the floor.

I am happy for my son to be whatever size and shape he turns out to be. He has my metabolism, not his father's, along with my build, so skinny is not going to be his thing. We've made another one for the scrum...and that is perfectly fine. But I do want him to be fit enough to play with his friends, run from the aforementioned bear if necessary, and feel comfortable in his skin. I am also aware that children can be cruel and that they seek out differences and weaknesses in others to make themselves feel more secure. And so I am concerned that when he goes back to school in slightly tighter clothes it will be an issue. I'd rather avoid that if at all possible.

We have always talked openly and in detail about nutrition and the way that food fuels our bodies. Ethan will talk fluently about protein, fat, carbohydrates, different vitamins and what his body uses them for. We don't ban sweets, and he's turning into a mean baker, but we focus on the need for whole foods and the reasons why. I have cut back on snacks as much as is possible without it turning into a big deal, and I would wolf down a room full of Happy Meals (yuck) before I would run the risk of giving my children any long-lived issues concerning dieting or their weight.
So, exercise it is. And as much as he loves sitting on the sofa and watching me do my workouts, can dodge a leg flying in all directions, knows Tracy's name and will reference the #tamily (the online community who follow the method) in general conversation (I think I might be making him weird!) he has no desire to join me in my hydrant leg lifts and planks.

So, running it is. And as I don't feel the need to fork out £300 on a brand new baby chariot just to take it down to the Marsh and push it through a pile of cow poo, I scoured Facebook marketplace and found an old Out N About Nipper. So I pulled on my Feel Fit leggings, along with the indispensable sports bra, plopped the baby in the buggy, left the house, forgot my sunglasses, went back in, left the house again....

I've never run pushing a buggy before, and I'm still not 100% back to my pre-pregnancy fitness level. There are core issues and pelvic floor issues and why aren't my earbuds connecting to my phone issues and how can you need another wee again issues (him, not me, although...). But we've now been out twice and it's been ok. The suspension on the buggy is so good that Erica has fallen asleep (at really unhelpful times) on both runs. There have been a few moments of protest, and one "If we have to run all the way to that bridge I am actually going to die!"
But we have bonded over the fact that we are both working on improving something, and on putting the new buggy through it's paces. Relying on my Fitbit Coach app and the lovely Leah means that it's not me telling him what to do (something which he finds frustrating, and I find often ineffective) and also that I'm not pushing him too far because of my own anxiety and impatience. It's also another whole 40 minutes when he doesn't ask to go on his Nintendo Switch - bonus!

We'll see how it goes, but I'm feeling positive. Making sure we look out for our children's physical health is just as important as making time for our own. And admitting to being at beginner level so that we can learn something along with them is great for their self-esteem and our relationship. So, if you're still avoiding the gym, or if you'd just prefer to be exercising outside, grab your kids and head off for a run at their pace - just remember to avoid the cow poo....

And if you need something to wear that won't fall down, show your pants, or embarrass your eight year old...check out our new Invigorate capris... The red ones are my favourite!

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