Friday, September 17, 2010

It's Only Natural

A tourist snapped these pictures of a female grizzly bear performing her morning stretches at the Ahtari Zoo in Finland. She makes it look so easy, doesn't she? Poised. Confident. Meditative. Evidently it was a fifteen minute routine done with the skill of an experienced yogi. 
The thought of engaging in either of these poses right now is daunting, likely impossible. Since the more I run the less I tend to stretch (bad combo, I know), marathon training has me feeling brittle right now. My right hamstring is almost painfully tight and tender (that's the Boo Boo part of this Yogi equation).

However, seeing these pictures reminds me of how instinctual stretching is--as is being limber and connected to our bodies. And suddenly that makes it just as provocative as running, which feels like the most natural form of exercise to me. It's a part of fitness I'm falling short on right now, but one I could easily squeeze in while watching television or reading a book. Heck, it's something I could even do with my kids or turn into a game using our deck of Yoga Pretzels cards.

So, as soon as I'm done posting this, I'm going downstairs to print off the pictures of Ms. Yogi Bear. They are going up on the fridge for the whole family to see. I'm counting on nature again-- the natural enthusiasm of my daughters' youth-- to get me on the floor and limber.  I can "bearly" wait.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Training for Real Life

I haven't posted in the past couple of weeks because, quiet frankly, I've been a bit of a wreck. My oldest daughter started third grade at a new school. After three years at the neighborhood Catholic grade school, we decided to give the public school a try. It's a public Montessori school and she's now starting her second week. Begrudgingly. She's tired of getting up an hour earlier to climb on the bus, misses her old friends, and isn't so happy about the change in general. As if going back to school after a summer off with Mom and Little Sister isn't hard enough. Once she's off and running, though, things seem just fine. But she keeps asking about going back to her old school (which, by the way, I'm missing terribly too!).

As a mom I'm inclined to scoop her up my arms and start home schooling (she actually thinks it's a great idea! ACK!). Get rid of all that discomfort and reassure her every chance I get.

As an athlete, however, I want to tell her something like Suck it up, Hon! or Keep going! You'll be glad you did it! There is a whole slew of rants that go through my mind as I try to press on during a painful training run or race; seems like a lot of them could apply here.  

Truth is, as parents we don't always know what is best for our kids. It's not natural for us to encourage pain on our children, no matter how insignificant that pain may seem in the larger playing field of life.  It's true, no one said life would be easy but as a parent it's hard not to try making life easier for our kids.

So, I'll take a lesson from my marathon training. I'll try to picture my daughter a few miles (er, months, years) down the road. And I'll use that as a compass for my husband and I while determining the best path for her. If she runs some hard miles now, what will the payoff be later? Or maybe she's put in the hard work and now it's time for some rest and recovery. I guess only time will tell.

I like to think fitness provides an excellent framework for parenting and for life. Priorities, hard work and sometimes even kindness to self. How has fitness helped you make decisions off-court?