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Exercising with Your Pre-Schooler: Let's Go Running!

Before I became a mom I belonged to a gym. In fact, I belonged to The New Health & Racquet club. I’d walk there from my apartment and consider it my warm-up. I ran on the treadmill. I lifted weights. I killed it on the stair master. On rare occasions, I’d swim laps and oh boy, did I love, LOVE, relaxing in the sauna for a good twenty-minutes after a workout. I can still smell that hot, wood aroma and I remember the hiss of the steam every few minutes like it was yesterday. I’m one of those people that actually likes to workout. I like to eat healthy. I take vitamins. Well, I rarely workout anymore.

Worst part is, I have a really nice gym in my condo building. I’ve lived in this building for almost two years and I’ve only walked past it on the way to the pool. JD would stand with his nose against the glass door and say, “Oh-wa, I want that purple ball, Mommy.” He was talking about the stability ball.

The thing is, even when I have someone to watch JD and I plan to workout, I always run errands because it’s easier to grocery shop solo, or wow, a pedicure sounds so much better than the treadmill. Well, last weekend when it was considerably warm I had an internal freak out. As usual I was up with the birds cooking pancakes at 6:30 A.M. and building epic block towers with JD. All I wanted to do was exercise and not exercise in my condo because running in place, jumping jacks and crunches just doesn’t satisfy the urge to move and sweat—and whenever I attempt crunches on the rug, JD thinks it’s, “Jump-on-Mommy-time!” So, with no one to watch JD I just said, “That’s it, JD! We’re going running!” “But I wanna go to the park,” he said. “After,” I said. “Nooo-wa!” he said. “Yes!” And just like that JD and I were in our Jeep headed to the local high school in our sweats. The track was empty and fenced in. It was also on the way to the park, so JD was not happy about our stop, that is until he found Blue’s Clues. Yep, Blue’s Clues.

As we walked, hand-in-hand to the gate to enter the track, he stopped and screamed, “Mommy, Blue’s Clues here!” Apparently the high school we were at has a mascot with big, chubby paws, like…Blue’s Clues. “Whoa,” I said. “Super cool!” Paws were stamped on the concrete and JD hop-scotched on them. Then he pointed to a trail of paws inching up the snack-bar shed. He was so delighted!

We walked onto the cushy, red track. JD stood next to me. “We’re gonna run a little, bud,” I said. “OK?” “Like, super-fast?” JD said. “Yep!” JD took off. My son is fast. My son is a runner. Like his father. Who, for many, many years was a professional, competitive runner. JD’s physical education teacher told me, “Your son is a runner!” So did his soccer coach. I know this. His legs are long, muscular and lean. They are his father’s legs. JD will no doubt excel in running. I predict he will go to the Olympics. It’s in his DNA and this is a gift from his father—the first, in fact. I am not sad about this or intimidated or angry. JD’s affection for books and art (my kitchen is his museum) came from me. His pleases and thank yous and excuse mes came from me. His love of tomatoes and salad and strawberries—all me. His random “I love yous” and “huggies,” from me. His sometimes stubbornness and determination to get the block tower completely right, me again. His vivaciousness and ability to talk to anyone, me.

I stood on the track and watched my tiny son run with all his might. He was wearing green pants and a green hoody and looked like a green bean on a mission. I took off after him. We ran and ran and ran and ran! I am not a runner. Anyone can run, but I am not trained or skilled and after two times around my lungs burned. My heart raced. JD was crouched on the side of the track examining the football turf. “Having fun,” I said. “I’m taking a breaker (saying "breaker," me again, ha!),” he said. “OK, me too,” I said and sat next to him, running my fingers through his shaggy blond hair, remembering briefly running through Central Park with his father. I had on a white long-sleeve T-shirt and blue Puma pants. It was fall and orange everywhere. 

“Come on, Mommy,” JD said, standing up. “You wanna run with me?”

 I shielded my eyes from the sun and looked up at JD, squinting. “I do, bud,” I said. “Let’s run!”

We stayed at the track for an hour. Running and racing and walking and looking at the clouds that resembled, according to JD, “carrots and pillows and cars with big wheels and a lady’s nose.”

I felt so invigorated the rest of the day. So awake and fresh! We’ve been back to the track two times already. If you're a mom who wants to exercise but has no one to watch your kiddo, hit the high school track. No excuses (it's not too cold!) and so much fun!

How do you get exercise in with your child in tow? Do you belong to a gym that provides daycare? Is chasing your kid around the park and carrying him around, the new treadmill? Hee-hee. Do you see traits from an absent parent in your kiddo? How does it make you feel? Please share. Have a lovely weekend! XO

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