I really love the Girls on the Run program and I so wished we had something similar here in Kosovo. Even a simple running group for kids would be wonderful. -- I know Girls on the Run is more than that but I'm not greedy. And no, even though they call themselves "Girls on the Run International", they are not, in fact, international. I asked. They did say that I could create my own chapter but they want $7,500 as an initial investment. I can think of a lot of things I could buy for this country for $7,500.
I really wanted my kids to run, though.
Alan has been having a rough time with his health this year. First his tonsillectomy, complete with two (minor) bleeding incidents, then the nasty pneumonia. It turned out that for the most part, the hospital didn't have NaCl to give the IV antibiotics with, so they used glucose. I don't know whether that's standard practice but let me tell you, if you get half a liter of glucose for three weeks straight, it wreaks havoc on your body, and that's not only your weight. Alan's fitness was non-existent at the end of the treatment. He'd gained weight, and was exhausted all that time.
We started slowly by taking Alan on walks - the first one tired him so much, I freaked. It was uncanny to see my boy, who could walk and bike for miles and miles, completely out of breath after an easy walk of one kilometer. A few minutes on the trampoline left him completely winded with chest pain. More maternal freakage. Regular walk with his Dad after dinner every evening started to have a positive effect. But that got me thinking...
Did you know that regular exercise is good for ADHD kids? It calms them and makes them more focused. Alan used to get lots of exercise biking but we couldn't bring our bikes and around here it's not really a good place to go biking by yourself. But would Alan even want to run? For years, I had been dropping hints about my godchild Allison who's doing the Girls on the Run program. My boys were never interested. Their Dad even ran with Allison as her buddy on one of the runs. No interest from my kids. Clearly, it was not going to happen on its own.
So I decided to bribe them. I started with my oldest. I chose a ridiculous bribe, really, and instantly regretted it (an iPod Touch! Eeek! What was I thinking!??) but Alan showed immediate interest. He's been wanting one for a long time now. I suggested using the C25K program (Couch to 5K for those uninitiated) on my iPhone. You start with a 5 minutes warm up, then alternate jogging and walking (60/90sec) for a total of 20 minutes, and another 5 minutes of cool down. I had no idea whether that was a good idea but you know? I decided to try.
Alan and I did our first run on Saturday. It was surprisingly good - I didn't think he could do it but he did it just fine. Then, yesterday, Leah really wanted to join in. I was dubious - I didn't want to slow down for her, and I really wanted to focus on Alan. I thought she was too young, too slow, too fragile. Hah. She ran like there was no tomorrow. No complaints, no slowing down, no nothing. She slipped once in the horrid mud that covers everything right now, but bounced back up and kept running. Why was I surprised? After all, she basically learned to walk on a trampoline and has been jumping for years now. That girl is pure muscle and strength. Silly mommy.
Alan was pleased to notice that we ran a lot further (well, 500m further) than on Saturday before we turned around at the 15-minute mark. I confess, I was pleased as well. Mind you, we're not going fast at all. Our run speed is about 9km/hr, so that's just a fast walk, really. The aim is to be able to run for half an hour, though, not to finish a 5K as quickly as possible. Endurance is the name of the game (also for me! In particular for me!). Speed we can do later.
After the run yesterday, I finally looked up 5K training for kids (I don't actually count Alan as a kid anymore) and it suggested a 1 minute jog/5 minute walk for kids. Jacob, who does not like walking or running, and who does not have the body-built of a runner, agreed to try this with his dad. Right before, he almost opted out (he hates competing with a vengeance - does. not. like. it. at. all.) That's why I thought it would be good for him to be alone with his Dad but then he complained he would be so lonely without his siblings. I finally just pushed him out of the door. Doug was very pleased to report that it was not a problem at all for Jacob and that both of them actually enjoyed this time together. Jacob even reported it was fun because they "could talk all the time!" Whatever it takes, my kid. After they got back, David finally agreed to run as well. The last pin to fall over, so to say.
So now we're all training for a 5K! All that's left is to find a run somewhere - best in the US because in Germany, there are very few open races -- mostly, you have to be a member of an athletic club to run in a race. We actually found a color run (not an original Color Run, though) close to Nashville, TN, when we are in the area in June. We are waiting another week to see how we're doing, and then we'll sign up for that run. It's a walk/run 5K for people from 2 to 100, basically, so even if the kids can't entirely run the 5,000 meters, they can certainly finish it and I hope it will be a great experience for them. I doubt there will be cows, though...