Last Updated on June 20, 2014 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP, CSCS
You’d be hard pressed to find a toddler or preschooler who doesn’t love to run. It is instinctual. Little kids run for fun, hardly ever out of necessity, and almost always with a giant grin on their face. If you are a parent, you are likely guilty of hollering “don’t run in the _____” (street, store, down the stairs, in the restaurant, etc.) If you aren’t a parent, chances are you remember hearing your own parents yell any of the above warnings in your direction when you were a wee one.
4 more months later, we were in Lake Placid NY for Ironman USA. Of course, I thought it would be fantastic to let little Rowen earn his very first M-Dot medal. We entered him in the 0.75 mile race (and oddly enough, HAD to buy a 3 year old a USAT membership. Yes, for a tot trot. He now gets his quarterly USAT magazine in the mail , and has a membership card. haha!) and waited for the start. The start came, the kids went….and we stayed behind. Eventually he warmed up to the idea of “going for a walk with mommy”, and after some running, some walking, and some being carried by mom, we almost made it to the finish line. But I swear he was giving me the toddler stink eye the entire race. Had he been a teenager, possibly would have mumbled something along the lines of “this is so stupid, i can’t believe you are making me do this” under his breath. (and probably a few “uggh shut up with the ‘go Rowen go!’s, you are SO embarrassing!)
Yet, just a week later, Rowen ran laps with me at the track, nothing but smiles and giggles.
As you can see, it appears I have a purist runner of sorts on my hands. One who runs for the love of running, and hates to ruin it with any pressure or competition. CLEARLY he did not inherit this from his mother. Competing is half the reason I LOVE to run. Competing against myself, the clock, and others. I love the rush of it all.
I could not contain this kid !!! As soon as I lined him up, he knew just what to do, and was pulling at me run. He ran two heats, his initial race and the championship race (did I mention this was a NON competitive race? HA!) and I had to hold him back like a horse at the start of the Kentucky Derby.
Both times he got to the finish line and raised his hands in the air baby-shouting “yaaay I did it!!!” (through the pacifier that is…we are working on making that thing disappear…), and hamming it up for all of the spectators. Little man won his very first trophy, which he held onto and proceeded to stuff pretzels and fruit snacks into. I was a proud mama.
We had a wonderful day at the family fitness festival . I only wish there had been a larger turnout. I may be biased, clearly, but I think this festival had an incredibly important message behind it: that fitness is FUN, and should be something the whole family participates in together. I think so many children grow up seeing mom and dad dreading exercise, and associating it as something bad that only needs to be done when the scale tells us something we don’t want to hear, or our pants start to get snug. No wonder our society as a whole has such a negative outlook on working out, that it is something hard and miserable.
A 2nd place trophy in the stroller obstacle course rounded off our day, and we headed home to recover from the heat . Baby Kain spent the afternoon playing with his new “toys”
Heather Hart is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), UESCA certified Ultrarunning Coach, RRCA certified Running Coach, co-founder of Hart Strength and Endurance Coaching, and creator of this site, Relentless Forward Commotion. She is a mom of two teen boys, and has been running and racing distances of 5K to 100+ miles for over a decade. Heather has been writing and encouraging others to find a love for fitness and movement since 2009.