A few weeks ago, I decided that my kids would like to start the Couch to 5K running program.
(Kind of me, don’t you think?)
Why did I decide this? Simply, I wanted to add a new activity to gym class in our home school curriculum and I felt the need for a third party to defer to in times of resistance by the participants!
I know for a fact that both my children are great runners. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes – beautiful, natural, easy stride. Especially my daughter, the eldest. It’s enviable.
They’ve taken track & field camps before. Those kids can run.
However, for some *strange* reason, when mom wants them to “go for a run”, it’s a whole different story. The whiny pants come out… the “I can’t”s are uttered… the “I’m so tired” is dramatically expressed. Brother. Whose children are these?!
I decided they should take a more serious crack at running. Shoot, if they were in school they’d have to, right?
Thankfully, it’s about more than just “keeping up with the conventionally schooled Jones-es”! I’d love for them to someday love running like I do.
Yes, it’s for their health. But more importantly, God willing, it’s something they can always do… always count on… always have for their own, no matter where they go or what they do. (Same is true of walking, of course.) All they need is some decent shoes and they’re good-to-go.
Running is my number one activity of choice for freedom, stress reduction, pain reduction (yes, you read that correctly!), processing, burning off steam, anger management, “me time”, prayer time, thinking, and creativity….
I often joke that, if I could just run more, I’d soon solve all the problems of the world… and write more books! (My first two books and several other products were “written” or created as I was running. I dictated them into a small digital recorder to be transcribed later.)
I also made it through my mom’s sickness, and eventual passing, by becoming what I consider a “real” runner… someone who truly loves to run… craves running. I credit God and running for teaching me how to take things (literally) one step at a time and to take notice of the blessings along the way… no matter how small or well hidden they may be.
This is what I look forward to when I run.
I want my kids to have something like that as they get older… something that connects them to what’s big and important.
So, why did I choose Couch to 5K (C25K)? I didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about this or researching it. I have several friends who did the C25K program and loved it. These are all people who swore they’d never be runners. And now they run. I think they even smile when they do it!
It’s a super simple program to turn a non-runner into a happy runner!
Even though the kids run, per say, like kids do… when they feel like it, I wanted them to learn to push themselves.
So, we’ve been hitting the trails for the last 5 weeks.
I learned really quickly that the BIGGEST CHALLENGE is not at all about the physical act of running. It’s all about “head space”. Self talk.
I did not anticipate that I’d be granted such a perfect opportunity to work with the kids on this through this program! (And to work on improving my own skills in this area, of course!)
This has actually become our primary ‘theme’ of our running time – to control our thoughts and self talk – to intentionally “plant positives”. Science has proven for years that our thoughts effect our physiological function – whiny, negative thoughts lead to poor performance and physical difficulties, while positive, empowering thoughts enhance performance and function.
Plus, let’s not overlook the obvious here: thinking in a more positive, empowering way just FEELS better! Duh.
Being intentional with our thoughts and self talk is the name of the game. How well they run – time & distance – although an important part of their physical education and health, is secondary to becoming the master of their own mental and emotional domain!
We use running as our time to practice this with the intention to apply it in other (less-controlled and predictable) areas of our life.
We’ve failed miserably at times… and the whining takes over… or the former-coach mom becomes a little too intense for a moment or two… or ten. But, each time, we talk (pre, post and during the run) about intentionally placing proactive thoughts in our head and playing an active role in creating our reality. We get back on track.
It has been extraordinary to watch the kids grow into runners in just a few weeks. They are unequivocally better runners, but it’s the secondary effects of running that have made their mom proud. They’re both more confident, more positive, more determined… and I haven’t heard “I can’t” since week one.
I’ve taught them how to find that elusive “groove” when running – the place where your body takes over, your mind relaxes, there is no pain, and you could go on forever. We tend to find that groove when we’ve gotten our self talk on the right track and we’re nicely distracted – having a nice conversation, or taking notice of nature around us, or singing, or talking about something funny… that works most of the time… until the laughing becomes too intense and mom is bent over at the waist in a fit of laughter.
It happens. These people are funny!
Several times now, each one of them has confided in me during a run that they “feel like a real runner”. It’s an awesome thing to witness!
They are runners. They met the goal of the entire 9 week program in week 3 – to run 30 minutes or 5 Kilometers without stopping. I just wanted them to know they could do it, so I pushed them beyond the outline of the program… just for fun! They were SO proud of themselves – it was great! They’ve done that a couple of times since then, but mostly I just let them follow the general flow of the program now… enjoying their running time.
Oh, my favorite quote of our running so far?
On one rather warm day when we were all pretty saturated after the run, I made a request to cease excessive bodily contact with the coach due to the sweaty condition of all participants.
My son responded with, “Mom, this isn’t sweat… it’s AWESOME SAUCE!”
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How about YOU? If you’re a runner, what do YOU love about it?
If you’re not a runner, is it on your to-do list?
What’s YOUR stress-busting exercise of choice?