Why parents make the best endurance athletes.

Contributed by: Lauren Jones

Every once in awhile I contribute to Athlete on Fire and here I am guest blogging for this week’s post. As you may or may not know, Scott and I have 2 young boys and for us it was a difficult transition from our adventurous and spontaneous lifestyle to being on kid duty 24-7. We had to make some major adjustments and compromises to be able to train at the same level we did pre-kids. Most days this means fitting in workouts whenever we can and pushing through even when are completely exhausted from sleep deprivation and chasing our highly energetic boys around all day.

If you listened to the most recent Weekend Warrior show, I did a section on why parents make the best endurance athletes and I’d like to expand on that a little bit as I feel that everyone (kids or not) can learn from our suffering to be tougher, more efficient and more well rounded athletes.

Step #1: Be tougher
Amy Palmiero-Winters is one of my role models, as a mother and an athlete. She was in a motorcycle accident and consequently her left leg had to be amputated below the knee. She began running again and in 2004 completed a marathon while 5 months pregnant and using a prosthetic only meant for walking. Eventually she moved onto ultramarathons (100 mile races) and even finished Badwater in 2011. She was recently the first amputee to finish an ultraman triathlon.
She is also the mother of two and once said that childbirth was more grueling and more painful than running an ultramarathon on a prosthetic. So you moms out there, you are stronger and tougher than you think. Sorry fellows, I guess us ladies have this advantage (if you look at it that way).

For us mere mortals, who allow sleep deprivation and self doubt dictate our ability to get out and get active, be tough and realize that there are people out there doing more with less or in worse circumstances. When you are giving your all in a sprint or workout or just can’t seem to push up that next hill, think of people Amy Palmiero-Winters who pushes through pain and adversity everyday.

Step #2: Be ready to train anytime
Didn’t sleep well last night? Snowing outside? Just don’t “feel” like running today? Well, like I tell my 3 year old, “tough luck buddy”.
When you have kids you can pretty much expect those days of working out whenever you want to or whenever you feel best to disappear.
Between a baby crying half the night and coordinating work schedules, often the only time we have to workout is very early in the morning or late at night. If you live in a colder climate like we do in Colorado, then you know that training runs and outdoor workouts in the winter are not always ideal.

Life is going to throw you some curve balls and the best athletes are the ones who can respond quickly, be flexible and learn to do the best with what time they have or conditions are present.

You may discover that having to go run in the dark and cold is actually a thrilling adventure. You may find that having to wake up at 4am to get a workout in at the gym is invigorating and gives you energy the entire day.
Be ready for anything and don’t let a little sleep deprivation or a full schedule to change your goals.

Step #3: Train like a kid

Get outside your comfort zone and the boring monotony of structured gym workouts, machines and training plans and train like a kid! Run to the nearest playground and see how many times you can go across the monkey bars. Can you do pullups? The park benches are great for box jumps and dips. You will be a more versatile and well rounded athlete by adding a little fun and play into your workout routine.

Here is a great workout anyone can do!

  • Find a playground near your house that is 1-3 miles from your house. If you have kids, bring them! That is what that expensive jogging stroller is for, right?
  • ¬†After you warm up, ask your kids if they want to play a game. Ask them to count to anywhere from 10-20, this is your interval! If you are a runner, sprint during this time. If you are new to exercise, this is your jog.
  • After your kids have completed their count, recover (walk/jog) and then repeat until you get to the playground.
  • If you don’t have kids or they are too young to count, find physical landmarks that you need to sprint/push to, the next tree, park bench, fire hydrant, etc. Recover and then find another.

At the playground you have 5 rounds of 10 reps each:

Park bench step ups ( 10 each leg)
Pullups or pop-ups (find a bar where your feet are on the ground jump up/pull your body up with your arms at the same time)
Swing single leg lunge (put one leg on a swing seat behind you, walk your other leg forward and lunge!
Park bench pushups (hands on the bench= beginner, feet on bench= advanced)
Park bench dips
Park bench seated reverse crunches (sit on bench with arms behind you, lean back into arms and drop your legs down and out and bring them back into your chest)

  • Do your intervals back home!

Step #4: Work out with your kids!

If you have kids and work full time, stay home or do a combo like we do, you know how difficult it is to find the time and energy to train like you used to.

There are a ton of creative ways you can get active with your kids and just think: you are setting a great example by showing them that being active is fun!

I am launching a site soon with workouts, videos and tips on how to run and workout with your kids (with plenty more playground workouts!). Join my newsletter list now: Running With Kids