Friday, July 24, 2009

My Running Triangle

Last night I took our trusty old pup, Albus, for a run. It was one of those ideal summer nights - a little overcast without covering the tri-colored sunset, a gentle cool breeze, and both of the children were sound asleep so my husband could enjoy the quiet at home. I left the Garmin at home and we just went. We seemed to bound up the first hill (usually a killer), and fell into a comfortable pace immediately. I slowed to a walk a few times to make sure I wasn't over-exerting Albus (he is nearly 9 years old, after all), but each time he looked at me with a glimmer in his eye that said, "Come on, Mom. I may be old, but I've still got it. Let's GO!" It was summer running perfection for the both of us!

But after we got home I realized that while the run itself was great, I shouldn't get too excited about my running fitness just yet. My post-run stretch was a loud reminder from my body that while my strength and endurance are better than they've been in years, my flexibility is at a near all-time LOW.

Further reflection led me to a self-discovery: I've never been diligent about maintaining all THREE elements of my running (endurance, strength & flexibility) simultaneously. In my younger years I was a dancer - I had some endurance, but strength and flexibility outshined it. I discovered yoga shortly after running found me, thus giving me the great combo of endurance and flexibility. But when I integrated strength training into my workout mix last fall, the yoga slowly faded to make room for the weights. So, though my fitness triangle shifts regularly, I have yet to find the sweet spot where all the sides get equal attention!

Maybe this is a casualty of motherhood, or maybe it is because I've never had a formal plan to integrate all three elements effectively. Whatever it is, my plan is to work on it! I've been doing 3 days of weight training each week, but I think it is time to change the plan. I'll keep using the SaneFit strength training workouts, but I'll knock it down to 2 days of weights to welcome at least one day of yoga practice/week back into my life. The running can stay the same at 3-4 times/week. For now. I'm interested to see if increased flexibility will help me as I get rolling with my longer runs.

How about YOU? Do you find that you go through phases where one element of your workouts take over and you neglect other aspects? How do you keep things balanced in your fitness life?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kids' Birthdays aren't Just for Kids

Tomorrow is my son’s fifth birthday (that's him doing what he loves best above). As my mother-in-law says, he’ll officially be a whole handful.
I find birthdays and anniversaries to be great times to reflect on personal growth and to check-in with progress on goals I’ve set. Don't worry, there will be cake and singing and silliness, too. And a few tears that only mothers know how to cry when their babies get older.

When I think back over the “whole handful” of years, I’m amazed at all that has happened in our little family (I’m keeping with the “5” theme):

1. We moved all the way across the country from Charlotte, NC to just outside Seattle, WA. If that situation doesn’t provide growth, I don’t know what will!
2. After two serious allergic reactions before his first birthday, our son was diagnosed with a long list of food allergies. As of last week, we’ve been given the green flag to add in larger amounts of eggs & milk into baked food products. This is cause for celebration at our house!
3. Our son became a loving big brother to a spit-fire little sister.
4. We’re now able to enjoy family adventures lasting longer than 6 hours. We’ve managed 2 weekend-long camping trips already this summer. I really never thought this day would come.
5. Our kids speak of their futures using empowering phrases like, “When I’m a runner . . . “ and “I’ll do that, too, because I’m strong!” I can't wait to see what will happen when they make those phrases come true.

Although the birthday is HIS, as the mama who birthed him, the day belongs to ME, too! This gives me the clearance to evaluate my goals in relationship to his life-span.

1. In his short/long (I haven’t decided if the time has been fast or slow!) life I published a book and sold over 1,000 copies of it.
2. Two weekends ago I set a running PR that blows anything from my “pre-kids life” out of the water.
3. I have completed at last a dozen quilts and already have a growing list of quilts to create over the course of his next five years. Only one quilt in his lifetime was for me – the others have all been gifts to celebrate weddings and births.
4. I started a non-profit social moms group in our community 3 years ago and it is still running.
5. My husband and I celebrated our 10 year engagement-iversary last week and our marriage is still going strong.

Now that know I can guide a child through life longer than I’ve held down any single paying job, my challenge begins. I must ask myself:

What are my new goals?
What experiences will I have the pleasure of remembering when the NEXT birthday rolls around?

Don't go yet! I have a challenge for you:

What life events prompt YOU to take a look at where you’ve been on your life path? What experiences lead you to set new goals as you head forward?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Reaching Beyond the Comforts of Home

"Mom, can we just stay home today?" my son occasionally asks.

For someone who is so set on adventuring and exploring, some days we find that home satisfies his needs. I feel that way sometimes, too.

Home is safe. We can really let it all hang out at home: we stay in our jammies until after lunch, watch an extra show on TV, splash in our kiddie pool, swing from the rope swing on our giant cedar tree, and read as many books as we can before falling asleep in the bean bag chair together. After stuffing our mouths with juicy berries . . . and maybe even some fruit snacks or otter pops (ice pops, icees, whatever your region calls them!), of course.
But, before long the kids do get antsy and we all know that means it is time to head to a park, take the dog for a walk, check out the used bookstore for a fun treasure, pick-up requested titles at the library, or meet up with friends for a play date. Those things are good for the soul, too, even if we do toss a haircut or grocery trip into the mix!
Sometimes I wish a change of pace for writing/promoting books could be so easy. How nice it would be to have a switch to flip for switching into high gear or back down into low gear. Or maybe there could be a GPS system for book publishing that calls out the next steps for me or helps redirect me if I miss my turn. Now THAT would be grand!
I've been enjoying some of that good ol' time at home recently, but know that the worker in me is antsy to get back into the swing of things - seriously.

Some ideas are brewing for new books, but now is really not the time to be thinking of publishing another title, or even sending out manuscripts to other publishers for consideration. Still, I think the ideas are worth of recording, so I need to block out some blocks of time to just sit and write, even if nothing official can happen with the work yet.

Getting out to meet readers/runners is important for promoting the book, but I've been so busy with my own running and life that a book tour hasn't panned out yet. I see some good options on the horizon, though, so one of my next steps is working to make public appearances happen.

I also hope to connect with readers more, both adults and kids. You can become a fan of We Are Girls Who Love to Run on FB (I hope you do!), I'm on twitter ( and I do my best to visit other runners' blogs to get a good feel for the pulse in the running world. It is my hope that connecting with others virtually will help me find opportunities for face-to-face experiences (like I mentioned earlier!). See, I really do need to take that step OUT into the world to encourage girls and runners to recognize their strengths and reach their goals.

Making the book easy to buy is another goal of ours. We Are Girls Who Love to Run is listed on Amazon (you can even get a signed copy there!), but we're working to get the book into more brick and mortar stores and more on-line retail shops. That's another important step for our business to take this year. People can't buy it if they don't see it, right? Several specialty running stores in the Pacific NW carry the book, but I know there are some other good matches for it out there, Oh, and feel free to let me know if YOU know of a good place for my book!

I see that my son's desires for home days tend to come after wild weeks of inconsistency and unfamiliarity. Home is safe and home is comfortable. But I also see that my son has incredible times of growth and self-discovery when we do venture out and explore the "unknown". And my daughter? Well, she thrives on outings and outside experiences, too. In fact, I like to tell my husband that when I grow up, I want to be like HER. These photos say it all:

I'm more like my son, or maybe it is the other way around. It is easy for me to just tread water with the things I know. We can continue to sell a handful of copies each week using the few venues in place. That's easy. But, to really bring the book's message to life and reach out to girls and runners, I need to do more. It is time for me to really take a stand with this book and step into the scary "unknown" to reach our goal of selling 3,000 copies of the book this year. That's how we can make a difference. The trick is to keep it all in balance.






I hope so!
As always: Happy running and happy summer reading!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Becoming a Good Sport

My son is just 12 days shy of his 5th birthday. For those of you without children, here's a translation:

He is a confident force to be reckoned with!

Really and truly, he wants to be a super hero when he grows up. If that doesn't pan out, he's sure that he will be "the best Globe Trotter EVER!" (despite the fact that his current basketball skill is that he knows what a basketball is). He assures me that he is a faster runner than me (despite the fact that he begs me to slow down so he can catch up when I'm running and he's biking with me) and asserts on a daily basis that he will always be older than his sister (which is, in fact, true).

Unfortunately hurt feelings can accompany all of this young confidence. He's starting to discover that other people's athletic skills are a bit more fine tuned than his and that hitting a ball with a bat is harder than it looks (even with a tee)! This makes my job as his mom a bit more challenging this summer than I thought it would be.

Thankfully I have some good stuff in my arsenal.

1. YMCA Rookie Sports Camp - My son spent the first week out of school at the soccer/t-ball rookie camp. I was thrilled that the core value they promoted all week was Sportsmanship. In addition to working on dribbling, catching, hitting (and running in the right direction), the group of 4-8 year olds learned how to encourage one another and celebrate success without being arrogant.
2. Books that promote kindness and acceptance of others - Now that he's reading independently more regularly, we're reading books together and discussing them the first time through. Then he rereads them on his own. After we read them again as a family (with little sister!) I have him tell me something the main character learned in the story. This often leads to an age-appropriate discussion about if/when he faces that situation what he can do. Where's Your Smile, Crocodile? by Claire Freedman was a good one we read last week that showed the importance of helping others. I was also happy to discover an Early Reader that chronicled a pair of friends who struggled with competition: Cork & Fuzz: Good Sports by Dori Chaconas. And you'll notice the new book Nico & Lola: Kindness shared between a boy and a dog by Meggan Hill in the photo below.

3. Family Runs/Rides - I DO want my son to feel confident, but I want him to feel good about specific things he can do (not just what he *thinks* he can do!). So even though when he rides his bike while I run it makes my runs s-l-o-w-e-r, I know this won't always be the case. To build his confidence as a rider, I'm using the time to cheer for him when he's doing well with detailed compliments: "Wow! When you steer straight like that, you can go farther faster!" or "I noticed how smoothly you took that turn!" These become part of our reports to his dad at dinner time and then we set a skill focus/goal for the next bike outing. Of course, riding on the tag-along on the back of Dad's bike during our family trail rides is great, too.

4. Water Balloons - Good ol' "Catch" isn't a favorite at our house (i.e., we have strong reading skills, but need to work more on hand-eye coordination!), so now we're working to make it fun and game-like so he can be successful when he plays a bit more seriously with kids at school or the playground. Water balloons are great for this on these warm summer days.

This last summer before he heads off to Kindergarten promises to be one of growth for all of us. I'm glad that fun can be at the base of all of it!
How about YOU? What do you do to help your children strike a healthy confidence balance? What's in your fun/learning parenting kit?