This morning Nora didn’t want to come for a run with me. She dug her heels in and refused to move. I pulled on her leash without success. Then I walked around her and pushed her from behind. I cried, “Come on Nora! You’ll enjoy a run through the bush. It’s a beautiful morning.”
To my relief, our dog suddenly gave in. She followed me through the garden gate. Moments later, we were running down the road to the bush tracks.
I can understand Nora’s reluctance to run. She probably had other ideas about how she wanted to spend her time. I suppose, after filling her tummy with breakfast, she planned to snooze in the early morning sun. I’m often reluctant to exercise too. I have to force myself to change into my shorts and lace up my running shoes. Some days I can think of a hundred other things I’d rather be doing. But usually I head out the door despite not wanting to.
I tell myself, “Sue, you only have to run down to the park, and along one bush track and then you can come straight back home.” That’s only about 1 km. Not far at all. So on days when I’d rather stay at home, I set off for what I’ve promised myself will be a quick easy run. But it never turns out to be quick and easy. Once I’m sailing along the track that winds through the gum trees, I start to enjoy myself. After a kilometre or so, I don’t head for home. I say, “Now I’m here, I might as well do a proper run after all.” I’ve tricked myself into doing some real exercise. It works every time.
This morning, Nora and I had a good run, our first before-breakfast-run of the season. It’s spring here in Australia and it’s getting light enough and warm enough to exercise first thing in the morning. I enjoyed pounding up and down the bush tracks breathing in the fresh air, jumping over rocks, glancing at the wild flowers as they rushed past me.
I haven’t always been a runner. I was a runner in my twenties and then children happened and running didn’t. But for years, a thought was lodged at the back of my mind: Can I run again? Should I give it a go? I knew getting aerobically fit was going to be hard work so it took me a long time to turn thoughts into action. And when I did, I wished I hadn’t. It hurt. A lot. But I persevered because my girls were so encouraging. They thought I was wonderful taking up running. I liked feeling wonderful. And then when they decided to join me and run too, I certainly couldn’t give up. We became The Team and I began to believe I could do anything.
The Team has been running together for four years. Increasing our fitness has been good, but The Team has achieved something even better than that. Running together with my daughters has drawn us close together, strengthening the bonds between all of us. We spend lots of time with each other, working hard as we challenge ourselves, and then we enjoy those precious moments as we link arms and plod home feeling exhausted but satisfied.
Running has become part of our life. So is everything perfect? Unfortunately not. For quite some time, another thought has been living in the back of my mind. It’s been jumping up and down trying to get my full attention. And this morning it succeeded.
My daughter Sophie has been doing an 8 week Fitness Blender program. Five days a week she has been stretching, jumping, lunging, lifting and bending. And after every workout, I’ve been admiring her capacity for hard work and perseverance. At the same time, I’ve been thinking, “I’m never doing workouts like that. They look far too hard.”
But this morning…
“Fitness Blender has a new program, Mum. Do you want to see it?”
Have you ever noticed how people love sharing their interests? If we ask a question or two, their faces light up. They are delighted when someone wants to know about a passion that’s important to them. Sophie smiled widely as I said, “Oh yes! Show me!”
Sophie opened her computer and soon we were discussing the merits of the various available workout programs.
“I’m happy about my level of fitness, but I don’t feel strong,” I said. “Well, my legs are strong, but my core and arms are rather pathetic. I really should tone them up. What would you recommend?”
It didn’t take Sophie long to find me an 8 week program called Maintenance/ Cross Training. There are only 3 workouts per week, perfect for fitting in between my usual runs. So I’m going to follow Sophie’s example, be brave, take the plunge and do the program. I know my arms and middle are going to hurt for a while. I’m not going to enjoy the first week at all. But 8 weeks down the track, I’m going to feel so good.
It’s now lunch time. Nora is lying in the sun fast asleep. She can enjoy her leisure. She’s earned it. She didn’t choose to run 5.5 kms this morning. I made her come with me. Of course, I don’t make my children run with me. They run because they want to.
I suppose Nora did want to run really. She looked happy enough once we started. And she came home grinning. Now this has led me to a new thought: Should we sometimes pull our kids along a little, encourage them to give something a go? Invite them to join us and do it together? Perhaps they’ll enjoy it once they get started. Yes, a gentle tug might be all that’s needed.
But if that nudge fails, I don’t think we should walk around our children and push them firmly from behind. That’s definitely for dogs only!
A final thought: If our kids aren’t interested perhaps we should set off on our own. Who knows what will happen? Sometimes our example is the most powerful motivator of all.