Running to keep up (with my kids!)

I’ve heard people use the phrase “I workout so I can keep up with my kids.” I’ve always thought those were thoughts for older parents or really unfit people. As a competitive runner and enthusiast of many sports, I have never worried about being able to keep up with my kids. In fact it’s the opposite: I have always looked forward to the day when they would be able to keep up with me so we could go on athletic adventures together.

My kids are 9 (boy) and 7 (girl). They are generally active and athletic, but they don’t train formally for anything, so they aren’t specialists. Other than the monkeybars, they don’t do the same activity more than once a week. The result of this is that they are ok at most things, but neither of them are experts in any one sport. And I am in generally quite good shape as I run every day and am usually training for a race of any distance varying from 5K to the marathon. So I have always assumed it would be a long time before they’re waiting for me vs. me waiting for them.

But I am getting older, and they are growing quickly.

During our most recent family vacation, we decided to hike up the side of a mountain, for an adventure and to see the view. I wasn’t too worried about my 9 year old, but assumed there would be a lot of stopping and possibly even some complaining from my 7 year old. This is the guidebook’s summary of the trail:

SUMMARY:
This is a rugged and strenuous 5-mile trail from Maalaea to Ukumehame. This is an out-and-back hike with trailheads on either end. Both trailheads are close to sea level and the trail gains ~1600 ft. in 2.5 miles, then descends back toward sea level for another 2.5 miles. The Lahaina Pali Trail is rocky, and the uphill portions can be strenuous and slow-going. It will take a person in good physical condition ~3 hours one-way, including several short stops; give yourself 4-5 Hours if you are in a lesser state of conditioning or plan on taking longer breaks.

Sounded like fun to us! So we packed lots of water and set out.

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Setting out

My husband has very long legs (and is also quite fit), so I’m used to him walking ahead of me. My 9 year old skipped and ran alongside him to keep up. I figured I’d be the caboose with my daughter, and eventually with both kids. But I only ever saw the back of my son unless they were stopped and waiting for us. As I hiked up alongside my daughter, I realized it really was a tough climb. I was sweating and huffing and puffing. And she didn’t stop chatting once. She kept singing a song and asking me to sing it back to her. Honestly all my focus was on getting up the hill, so I kept forgetting the words. Finally she said “Mummy. It would sound better without all the hard breathing in between the words.” Touché. In my defense, I was the one carrying the pack with all of our water, but I still could not believe that both of my kids seemed to be outpacing me!

"Come ON Mummy! And don't stop singing."

“Come ON Mummy! And don’t stop singing.”

We finally caught up to my husband and son waiting for us 2/3 of the way up – an hour after we’d set out. Still not one complaint from either kid, but my husband and I decided that coming down would be tricky as well so we’d better turn around.

The view from our turnaround point

The view from our turnaround point

It turned out we were right. Coming down technical mountainous trails is very hard on your quads. And I was dead-last in our group. My daughter was very kind and waited for me, provided I continued to work on getting the words to the song correct. My husband and son were nowhere in sight.

So, I guess now I can add “so I can keep up with my kids” to my reasons when people ask me why I run. I really never thought it would come so quickly.

My new workout motivators: King and Queen of the hill

These dudes: providing me with yet another reason to keep running …

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