Today we’re happy to welcome Dan to the blog! Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com and he has been featured on runnerblogs all over the world. Dan is our first male guest poster so please give him a warm welcome!
Living in such a beautiful area as the northwest makes it fairly easy to exercise, especially with the great outdoors as such a lovely and awe-inspiring backdrop. However, if you’re training for an endurance event, it can be really time-consuming, no matter if you’re working out indoors in a drab gym setting or outdoors with nature at your footsteps. The number of hours you end up training each week can look like you’re picking up a part-time job, and adding your workout routine to your already busy life can take a toll on family time if you’re not careful. Figuring out how to balance endurance training with family time is a challenge for many endurance athletes – who are also typically very goal-driven by their very nature – but it’s not impossible to find some semblance of balance.
With some planning and a hefty dose of creativity, you may find that incorporating your family into your exercise routine is completely doable, provided you have some helpful tools and resources at your disposal. Not only will you still be able to log the requisite training you need, but you’ll also be able to have the wonderful, enriching quality time with your family that is so important, and as an added bonus, you’ll be modeling for everyone firsthand the importance of taking care of yourself and how meaningful it is to work hard toward achieving your goals.
I’ve listed below some ways that you can intersect your family life into your exercise routine in the great outdoors of the northwest:
Use a running-specific stroller to run with your children
If running is your exercise of choice, and if your children meet the weight and height limits as outlined in the owner’s manual, consider pushing your children in a running-specific stroller on your runs. There are many models and options these days, with some being more inexpensive than others, and if you have more than one child, you can even purchase models that hold up to three children. Talk about an incredible strength routine! You’ll probably find that pushing your children while you run makes for a harder-effort workout, which may not be conducive to all of your runs, but you could consider substituting some of your easy-pace days with some stroller runs. You probably won’t be able to run at your usual pace when you’re pushing a stroller – at least not initially, anyway – but in exchange you’ll be involving your children in a meaningful way in your training.
It goes without saying, but if you’re uncertain about pushing your children in a running-specific stroller, talk to your pediatrician first, and read your stroller owner’s manual so you understand exactly how to use and fix the stroller, should something go awry.
Finally, stroller-running can become a two-for-one workout, since it’s harder than a typical run because it engages your core muscles in a way that you don’t get when you run stroller-less, making it both an excellent strength and endurance routine. I’d like to think that stroller-running also builds a good amount of mental muscle that you can draw upon during the throes of racing!
Ride along as a family
If your children are older and can already ride bicycles, another way to involve them (and the rest of your family) in your training is to run or ride alongside them, while they also ride. If your children are young, you or your partner can pull them behind you in a bike trailer, as well. Over time, you might even find that these family bike rides become something of a family tradition, something that everyone looks forward to, and it can help set the precedent that exercising is fun.
Most people are admittedly a bit more stressed and a bit more inflexible than they’d like to be, which makes developing a regular flexibility routine that much more important. There are numerous practices out there, such as yoga or pilates, that cater to families, and many of these practices are available online or from your local library. It doesn’t matter if you or your children have never practiced before because typically, family-focused practices provide modifications for all levels of experience, and the family-focused series also make it fun for the younger learners. Being able to practice together as a family in your own home also gives you the added bonus of being able to progress at your own pace, too.
Train (and coach) your children for an event
It can be really fun to exercise just to develop and maintain health and fitness, but it can also be exciting to train for a specific event, like a 5k or a sprint triathlon. As your children age, consider their interest in training for an event. Do they seem like they’d enjoy it? Do they like exercising on a regular basis? Would they be interested in having fun (and perhaps competing) with other children who are the same age? If it seems like your kids would enjoy the experience of training for an event – assuming they are in good medical health to begin with – register them for an event and train alongside them, effectively serving as their coach. You’ll probably find that you reap untold amounts of motivation from watching your children practice and train because kids often have an enthusiasm and joy that we adults lose over time, thanks to stress! If your children have grown up watching you habitually train for an event, chances are high that you’ve already piqued their interest. Training and coaching your children for their first event can be rewarding for both of you, and by living in such a beautiful area of the country, you’ll also be exposing your children to the beauty of nature that is literally right outside their door.
And the obvious: take a walk (or a hike)!
Although the weather elements might be harsh at certain times of the year, living in the northwest gives you unfettered access to some of the most beautiful parts of the country, without a lot of travel effort. You don’t have to train for a specific event to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors; simply going for a walk or a hike with your children is a wonderful and special activity that you can share together. If your children are young, you can walk or hike with them by using a stroller designed to handle the terrain, or you can alternatively use baby-hiking-packs that are designed to comfortably and safely hold your child on your back while you explore the world on foot.
Parenting is no doubt a fuller than full-time job it seems, but it’s also important that we remember to take care of our health and show our children how important it is to do the same. The northwest gives us such stunning views that we can enjoy while we exercise outdoors, and with a little planning and some creativity, we can also intermix our families with our training as well, making quality family time even more memorable and cherished.
About Dan Chabert:
Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.