How to Involve Your Children in Your Training as an Athlete
Training for an endurance event like a half marathon or marathon can be a grueling task – the sheer number of hours spent not only running, but also recovering each week can mirror that of a part-time job – and training can be especially tricky if you’re also a parent. Many runners often claim that one of their biggest challenges is balancing training with family time. Runners, by nature, are extremely motivated and goal-driven people, but while many of us will work incredibly hard day after day, week after week, month after month, to go after our goals, we want to do so while still remaining present as parents.
Contrary to what you may think, it is actually fairly easy to incorporate your children during your endurance event training, provided you have the right tools and resources. Training with your children can give you some wonderful quality time opportunities with them while modeling the importance of being active and working hard to realize goals.
Being an endurance athlete and being a parent aren’t mutually exclusive. Here are some ways that you can involve your children in your training:
Running early or late
One way to balance your training needs with those of your children is to revolve your training around your children’s activities so you will be able to be present for all their commitments. This can be tough, as it usually means training very early in the morning, before your children have woken up and started their day’s activities, or training late, after your children go to bed. Running very early or very late will give you the added benefit of being able to be fully present with your children during their daytime commitments. Running especially early or especially late minimizes interruptions to “family time,” as well. The downside, of course, is your potential sleep deprivation and the fact that your children won’t be able to actually see you train (and be active alongside you), perhaps minimizing their intrigue in being active.
Push your children in a stroller designed for running
There are impressively well built running-specific strollers available on the market these days, with industry leader BOB being among them. Many running strollers are designed with specific weight parameters in mind, so be mindful of the limits as outlined in the owner’s manual. Runners can push one, two, or even three children in the newer running strollers that are available nowadays. Although while you may not be able to cruise along at your usual running clip, you will be meaningfully involving your children in your endurance event training. If you have any questions about whether your child is ready to be pushed in a running stroller – due to your child’s age, height, or weight – confer with your pediatrician first. An added bonus of stroller-running: it’s a tough workout, engaging your core in ways that don’t usually happen when you are running stroller-free, so stroller runs can easily become a great strength- and endurance-building workout. It doesn’t matter if you go for long-distance runs while pushing a stroller or just run errands around your hometown; it all counts.
Run while your children bicycle
Another way to involve your children in your endurance event training is to have your partner pull them along in a bike trailer or bicycle seat, if they are young, or if your children are old enough, they can ride alongside you on bikes of their own. This option can easily become a type of routine family outing, something that gets everyone outside and moving, and could perhaps even create a fun and unique family tradition each week.
Actually run with your children
As your children age, gauge their interest in running. Do they enjoy it? Would they be interested in completing a mile or 5k event? If your children seem genuinely interested – and, of course, are in sound physical health for the undertaking – register them for an event and actually train with them. Children run with such sheer, unbridled joy that you may find that you are more inspired by your children than ever before. Helping “train” your children for their first event can be very memorable and meaningful, and surely if your children have witnessed your commitment to your own training, you’ve at least piqued their interest and planted the seed for them to want to find out what this running business is all about.
Balancing family obligations with those related to endurance event training can be tricky, but it’s not an uphill or impossible battle. With a little planning, you may be surprised at how easy it can be to both get your miles in each week and be able to spend a lot of quality time with your children.