Monday’s Child: The Family Run
I’ve been going to the gym and/or doing morning run/walks for awhile now. This summer, however, my oldest daughter decided that it was time for her to get physical too. While I’m perfectly content – happy even – to exercise alone, Anna isn’t happy doing much of anything alone. “Come on, Mom. Run with me.”
We don’t make great running partners. I like to run in the morning. She likes to run at night. She’s 26 years younger than me, skinny as a rail, and has such long legs that even when I match her step-for-step in pace, she still gains a considerable lead. Not to mention that if two of us go out running, the other two have to come along as well. It may not be the most productive exercise time for me, but it is interesting.
Long-legged Anna generally leads the way. Gus, usually in his Nerf ammo vest and camouflage hat, runs back and forth stalking bad guys. Sometimes he runs point in front of Anna. Other times he lags behind the rest of us. Mia is a good runner – for sprints. She can fly like the wind and catch up with her older sister. Then she poops out and walks to catch her breath, often falling way behind. Then there’s me, trying to keep my legs moving, gulping for oxygen hidden somewhere in the thick, humid air, and doing my best to keep all three kids in sight. Sometimes I’m right with Anna. Sometimes I’m at the back of the pack where I can see all three. Sometimes I’m doubling back to join Mia, who has fallen too far behind.
It’s quite different from my solo exercise experiences, when I can get lost in my own thoughts, go at my own pace, and set my own route. It’s fun, though, to watch my kids each doing his/her own thing, in his/her own style.
Anna is strong-willed and determined. She pushes hard, past the point where I would want to stop for a breather. She holds herself erect. It’s only by watching her closely that I can tell when she’s wearing down. Her stride shortens and there’s a tell-tale kick to the outside. But when she’s on the home stretch, look out! That girl can move!
Gus hardly recognizes that he is exercising. His imagination is so lively that it’s nothing to him to keep going as long as he sees the “enemy” around every corner and behind every bush. He can drop to the ground, do a quick roll, pick off a few imaginary insurgents, and be back on his feet with little effort. If, however, I was trying to get him to run straight sprints or do calisthenics, he would wear down and quit in short order. Let him get lost in his own world and he can go forever.
Mia is amazingly fast. Her short little legs are a blur as she takes off in a sprint. I hope to see her on the soccer field or on the track leaving competitors in the dust one day. Her endurance will build, but I’m careful with her because of her asthma. Our first night out she seemed tentative. I was afraid she was having asthma trouble, but when I checked her, I heard no wheezing. We had a long talk about the difference between being out of breath and having an asthma attack. She seemed surprised to realize that all of us have trouble breathing when we exercise hard. That made her feel better and she’s since lost that tentativeness.
And me, I’m kicking along trying to keep up with all the kids, looking out for their safety, hoping that I won’t miss a single second of their joy or a single indication of their need – all while trying to stay in touch with myself and my body. That’s what I call a real workout!