Unexpected speed work

46324600_221e173f37_zThe seasons must be changing, because we wound up at the YMCA yesterday. The YMCA became our winter default family activity earlier this year, with many a cold Saturday or Sunday featuring the 20 minute drive there. My husband and I would run a few miles on the treadmills while the kids played in the Kid Zone, and then we’d all go swimming in the indoor pool together.

The 6-year-old is now officially too old for the younger kids area. Unfortunately, the big kids area requires socks and sneakers. We didn’t know this, and he came in his crocs. We were informed we couldn’t leave him in that state.

What to do? We decided to split the time, and I took the kid first to the upstairs track to walk around while my husband hit the treadmill. Except then a funny thing happened. My son wanted to run. And he turns out to run fast. Even in his crocs, he was a little bolt of lightning shooting around the track. I had to pour on the speed to keep up with him. I ran on the outside lane, and as he ran the turns from the middle lane, I had to run as fast as I think I ever have in order to stay abreast with him.

He didn’t run fast for very long — I don’t think he’ll be pacing me on 7-mile training runs anytime soon — but it was a reminder of the boisterous way kids run. You can run fast so you do. You don’t think about preserving your energy. You don’t think about anything except the space in front of you. You just run all out. And when you do, you can zoom along at a surprising clip.

I haven’t done a whole lot of speed work lately. I’ve been running mostly for stress relief. But racing after my kid was a reminder of how fun it is to zoom. We did at least a mile alternating sprints and walking, and by the time it was my turn to hit the treadmills, I was well warmed up. So I did more sprints, amazed that what I assumed would be lost time had been the key to a great workout.

Have you ever exercised with your kids?

In other news: I’ve been having issues again with spam comments. I apologize to any real people whose comments have been sitting in the approval queue for a while. I try to check every 24 hours at least, and it’s more often than that during normal business hours. Thanks for your patience.

Photo courtesy flickr user timtak

13 thoughts on “Unexpected speed work

  1. When my then-5-year-old joined his big brother for karate class, I noticed a couple of parents in the class, too. I also read an article on parents having an activity with the kids, not as a leader/mentor or partner, but as a co-participant. So I joined the class, too. Made it to purple belt! Both boys are now black belts, and a couple of the parents have gone on to higher black ranks and competitions. It was a lot of fun. Now I bike “shotgun” on my now-14-year-old’s cross-country training runs. Also fun, especially on these beautiful fall days.

  2. Well, DS and I have swum together (A LOT) since he was about 18 months, though obviously for several years that was more about me supervising his safety than getting exercise. But water’s a pretty good resistance tool, even if you can’t go far while you’re in it. Even now he tends to like me to swim “with” him, which restricts my options, though in fact he is divinely good about sitting outside the pool while I swim laps if I tell him I want to do that. Similarly, the one time I took him with me on a jog while he rode his bike, he was — perfect. Kept up, didn’t go too far ahead, utterly polite about the whole thing. But! He wanted to talk with me the whole time, which, OMG, significantly detracts from the quality of the run for me. So: feasible, but suboptimal (also, requires a place free of cars but allowing bikes and interesting enough for DS to want to do it, but fortunately our town offers that).

    We do a lot of dog-walking together, mostly a short trek down to a local lake (destination! from DS’s perspective) and back. And I throw him in our (inflatable) kayak sometimes, though my preferences are more sightseeing and less hard paddling…

    I struggle with the distraction DS creates even when he is (usually) being cooperative, a reflection at least in part of my introversion/need to get away. And the segmented nature of contemporary living (as compared to my childhood) aggravates me, i.e., there are a limited number of places where (e.g.) DS can bike and I can jog, or where the dogs can run loose while we “play soccer” together, so I end up having to find a separate block of time for everything (get exercise for myself, get exercise for DS, get exercise for dogs …).

    1. “the segmented nature of contemporary living”—what a great insight! This can definitely be an issue—we can’t bring dogs to the kid park nor can we bring kids to the dog park. We can only bring kids to the gym in very restricted childcare hours. So we have to do a lot of splitting up to get everyone well exercised!
      I’ve tried running while my 3-year old rides his scooter. It was OK, but yes, too much talking, “why mommys”, reminding him to stop at lights (and explaining why this is important) for it to really be “me time”. I prefer to run with the dog.

  3. Now that I have a kid (even though he’s not exercising with me), I’d much rather do a hard, fast workout than a longer, slower run. It’s all about efficiency nowdays.

  4. My 5.5 year-old son downhill skis and hikes with DH and me. He’ll be on the local ski racing team this year, and we predict he’ll be a better skier than both of his parents by the end of next season. Our almost-4-year-old DD will start taking ski lessons this year – can’t wait to be able to go on family ski trips where we all take runs together.

    1. @hush – our older two liked learning to ski last year, so that could be a possibility for them to do with my husband. I’ll probably stay in the lounge getting a massage 🙂

  5. McDonald’s playlands also require socks, as do a few other places. I’ve learned to keep three pairs of non-rotating socks in the trunk of our car with the backup coats.

  6. My son is still too little to exercise WITH, but I get a ton of exercise carrying him around! Walking around with 20-25 pounds in my arms has developed my biceps like no strength-training exercise ever has. I also enjoy putting him in his playpen and doing workouts in our basement. While he plays, he’s also watching me exercise, and I feel like I’m setting a good example for him.

  7. My 6 and 11 year olds have been riding along as the “support” bikes as my husband and I do our long training runs for a Marathon. We go along a bike trail so we don’t have to worry about the kids and cars but my 6-year-old tends to meander down the center of the lane meaning I am constantly yelling out “Stay to the right!” while expert cyclists zoom past us.

    1. @Shauna – ah, yes, the “keep to the right” problem. When we’re on trails I think I spend half my time yelling that!

      1. In a similar vein, “Look where you’re going!” is something that makes its way out of my mouth every two minutes.

        Children seem to have a terrible time looking ahead while they’re biking.

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