A little over two years ago, my oldest daughter decided that she wanted to play Soccer. We found a local community league and got her signed up. She was very timid through most of the season but scored her first goal during the last game. From the moment she scored that goal, her confidence soared and she became a little monster on the field.
When we headed home from that game, all she could talk about in the car was how excited she was to play again next season. When the next season rolled around, she got back on the field and managed to score a goal in practically every game. The sport did wonders for her confidence and her mother and I were both proud of the way she handled herself on the field.
After a few successful seasons, things began to change. The community league no longer relied on volunteer coaches to teach the kids and instead brought in Trainers. Too few trainers were responsible for too many kids and ultimately, there was no real bond between the kids and people who taught them the game.
After completing her fourth season, my daughter’s interest in the sport had died out. She no longer wanted to play the game – explaining that it just wasn’t fun anymore. She seemed to miss the interaction with her coach and, to be completely honest, I was pretty bummed out.
We didn’t push her to play but we did ask that she find something else to do so that would keep her active. Then one day she came home from school with a paper for Girls on the Run. My wife explained it to me as kind of an Elementary School Track Program with an emphasis on female empowerment and positivity. Our daughter seemed excited to participate, so we signed her up.
For the past month or so, our oldest daughter has been participating in the program. She meets with the coaches twice per week and runs with a variety of other girls. She seems to enjoy it and my wife and I are glad she is staying active.
While sitting on the coach this morning, my wife turns to me and says So, you know she needs a Running Buddy right? Up until this point, I assumed the Running Buddy was another girl in the program. As it turns out, the Running Buddy is someone to run a 5K with her in May.
It was at that moment that I realized the underlying statement was So, you’re going to run in this 5k right? A moment of panic washed over me as I realized that participating in this 5K was going to hurt and had the potential to be very embarrassing.
You see, I used to hit the gym six days per week – mixing cardio and strength training. I had lost a bunch of weight and felt fantastic! But that was two children and several dozen pounds ago. Between my day job and my new business, I spen roughly 80 hours per week in front of a computer. I don’t eat well, I don’t get enough sleep, and I get winded walking up the stairs. I know I need to make a change but going from zero to 5K in a little over a month seems like a stretch.
Under normal circumstances, I’d probably find a way to either stretch out the timeframe or just not do it at all. But this wasn’t about what I wanted – my daughter asked me to run with her. Knowing my past experience with I’ll just buckle down and start on Monday – I threw on some sweatpants, laced up my shoes, and headed out the door to get started right then and there.
My daughter joined me for moral support and it didn’t take long for me to realize just how difficult this was going to be. Less than five minutes into our run and I was already breathing hard. My pace was so slow that my daughter was power-walking beside me to keep up.
I kept a slow and steady pace for about eight minutes before I had to take a break. We walked for a couple of hundred yards and then started running again. My goal was to just make it to the stop sign (a couple of tenths of a mile away) before taking another break. I made it halfway before I had to walk again. At this point my daughter looked back at me and yells C’mon Daddy, it’s just a little farther – you can do it!
Not wanting to let the little girl down, I started trotting along once again. My lungs burned and my calves ached as my gut bounced merrily – pulling at the muscles across my back. When we finally made it to the stop sign I was practically wheezing. My little girls turned to me with a smile on her face and said so matter-of-factly See, that wasn’t so bad!
We continued to alternate between walking and running and eventually hit the one-mile mark. When we set out, my goal was to cover one mile then walk back to the house. Because my daughter wasn’t tired and because I have a tendency to overdo it – we continued to alternate between walking and running all the way back to the house.
When we got back home, my little girl skipped off to the fridge to get a juice while I collapsed onto the couch. As I sat there, breathing heavy and sweating – I had an odd feeling come over me. I remembered all those times I came home from the gym sore and exhausted. Despite the pain in my feet and legs, I kind of liked the way I felt.
I realize that training for a 5K in the shape that I’m in is going to be difficult. I’m going to have to carve time out of my extremely busy schedule to run on a regular basis. My biggest fear in all of this is that I’m going to fail in front of my daughter at something that is completely under my control.
My plan of attack is to run three days each week – pushing myself a little farther each time. On days that I’m not running, I want to find something easy and low impact to do. My goal is to cover all 3.1 Miles without having to walk. I know it’s a lot to ask but if I stay focused and put int the work, I think I can make it happen.
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