A couple of running themed posts.  As I have mentioned on the podcast, my wife has gotten into running and in an effort to do that together, and improve my fitness, I too have taken up the sport.  I admit that I have long been one very uninterested in running- it bored me, it seemed to be a chore, a no-frills method of getting exercise.  I particpated in varous other sports for exercise (volleyball, basketball and Tae Kwon Do) so I saw no need to go through the time involved in running.  Furthermore, the people you drive by running along the road seem to be in such agony, how can that be fun?

Well, personally, I have embraced running to a great degree.  The physical benefits have been huge- I have lost about 30 pounds overall and feel that from a physique perspective, the benefits look better than they weigh.  Also, I am more fit for my other activities (volleyball and Tae Kwon Do, I dropped basketball when I picked up the second night of volleyball).  And people take notice- that always makes you feel good.

But with the embracing of running I have learned a few things.  One is that many obstacles are merely in your mind.  When I started running I ran a mile and that was doable but tough.  Then I worked up to two miles, then three, then we ran a 5K (3.1 miles).  Running the race brough validity to what I was doing, that by training with a goal in mind was working.

Next up was an 8K (about 5 miles) so I ratcheted up to 4 miles, then 5 then pushed myself one day when I felt good to almost 6 (5.75).  That really helped with the confidence levels and quieted much of the doubt in my head.  For the 8K, my wife and I ran it in sub 10 minute miles, not a race pace but good for us and very consitent with our training and expectations.

Yesterday we completed a 10K, my first race at that length (my wife did the 10K last year and has run 9 and 10 milers since but she was kind enough to let me run with her this year).  Training for this race included running the 6.2 mile distance the past couple of weekends, both on the treadmill and outside (with some mild hills- the race course was very flat so hills training helped- more on that in another post).  I even cranked out 7 miles on the treadmill one morning to see how much fuel was left in the tank and on an outside 6.2 mile run, did the dash to the finish, a .2 mile sprint to end the training run.

All of this to explain the importance of goal setting and training.  A year ago I would have scoffed at the idea of running for an hour.  Now, it is fairly easy.  This comes from both physical and mental training.  As we go through our lives we need to continually train our brains and bodies.  Training can mean different things for different areas of our lives.  Obviously here on TheDaddyCast.com, we would focus on the Parenting benefits.

From a parenting perspective we need to train ourselves to be good parents.  This training can include learning more through reading books, articles, talking to others.  This trains the mind to at a minimum think about a wider array of options for situations as they arise.  What would you do if your child begins to behave differently?   Options might include internet research, talking to friends and family, discussing with a teacher or doctor.  In other words, get more information.  And you can train for this situation by being proactive and always being open to and striving to gather information in a day to day manner.

Parent training is also getting involved with your kids.  Here is where the physical nature can come into play.  Playing ball, riding bikes, hiking, doing things to help them explore the world around us and their talents.  Not all of this has to be physical, mental training through participation can include reading together, doing puzzles, playing games- activities that keep their brains active.

Another aspect of training is training our kids to overcome obstacles.  Just like in running where I had to train my brain that yes, I can run beyond my old expectations (and it is strange how your body begins to yell at you as you approach your goal of say 5 miles, telling you it can’t take anymore, yet another day if you set out to run 6 miles your body is fine at the 5 mile mark) we can help our children learn to not be bound by mental limitations.  The old adage that you can do anything you set your mind to is really true.  Let your kids explore beyond what you or they thing are the bounds.  This exploration can be mental and physical.  benefits can show up through school work, sports and their own attitudes and perspective.

Sports is an excellent place for children to learn to expand their possibilities.  Sports bring on both a physical and mental challenge.  Kids who are properly trained learn to overcome obstacles, tune their talents and exceed expectations.  Training for sports is not just a coaches job, as parents we need to get involved too.  Even if it seems the coach, as an outsider, has more influence on our child, it is typically the parent for whom the child performs and parental approval goes a long way.

So take the challenge to challenge ourself.  Begin training to overcome mental and physical obstacles that even though them seem too great, may only be so in your mind.  You can amaze yourself and those around you.  And by doing so, be an inspiration to your child- they are always watching.  And push them to do the same, to take on challenges and do more than they think they can now.  Be sure to explain the importance of patience and proper training to get to our goals- it doesn’t happen overnight but with hard work, it does happen.