Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stroller Rivalry

Sibling rivalry is strong within our ranks and there is no cease-fire just because they are riding in the jogging stroller.

Type 1: The Fair-Fight
The petite 5-year-old and the enormous 3-year-old. Things will be going along fine until one of their little feet starts to cross over the mid-line and the next thing I know there are arms and legs flailing and the stroller is jerking around and we are quite the spectacle!

Type 2: The Bully
The 3-year-old and the newborn. Not a fair fight. What begins as innocent hand holding often escalated to arm squeezing and eye poking. Defending the baby is required.

Solutions - well, preventions, hopefully, to the fighting are mainly about distraction! Food, books, music, etc. Books are especially useful to create a physical wall between the two kids as well. Covering the baby with a blanket when the weather allows for it also provides a physical barrier.

Keep the older child's eyes "out" of the stroller looking for red cars or squirrels or whatever you are likely to see along your route. Keep the older child's hands busy with small toys, an old iPod, coloring, binoculars, songs with hand motions such as "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" or "The Wheels on the Stoller," etc.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Illusion of Choice

Back to my blog's original mission: how to get your kids to sit in the jogging stroller! Dealing with children and adults alike, the most persuasive of people understand that you have to give the illusion of choice. Make them come to believe it was their idea all along. The key factor is only giving choices with outcomes that you are happy with.
Imagine! I sometimes meet some resistance from my 2-year-old when we are loading up the stroller for a run. I offer, "Spencer, do you want the big streets or little streets?" He answers, "Big streets!" Do you want to bring Goldfish or Cheerios? OK, we're off.
Now, the most likely pitfall is that your child will change his or her mind. Don't show a minute's hesitation. Be firm. No changing.
What other choices do your kids like to make for themselves?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mind Over Hills

The October 2008 Runner's World Magazine ranks "The greatest, most daunting hills in U.S. races". I can't find it on their web page so I will list them for you:

1. Heartbreak Hill, Boston Marathon (Boston, MA)
2. Hayes Street Hill, Bay to Breakers 12K (San Francisco, CA)
3. Queensboro Bridge, NYC Marathon (New York, NY)
4. Doomsday Hill, Lilac Bloomsday 12K (Spokane, WA)
5. Mt. Washington Auto Road, Mt. Washington Road Race (Gorham, NH)
6. Cardiac Hill, Peachtree 10K (Atlanta, GA)
7. Hospital Hill, Hospital Hill Half-Marathon (Kansas City, MO)
8. Gallows Lane, Litchfield Hills Road Race (Litchfield, CT)
9. Diamond Head Avenue, Honolulu Marathon (Honolulu, HI)
10. Hurricane Point, Big Sur Internat'l Marathon (Big Sur, CA)

Whoa! Have you been to Mt. Washington? That is not even on the same scale as these other hills! I understand that there is a big mental component to "daunting" beyond simple elevation gain or percent grade, but only #5? Really? Admittedly, I've never had to run up Heartbreak Hill at mile 20, but my CAR could barely DRIVE up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. (Side note: NH's Presidential Range is where I got engaged.) So that is almost 8 miles, rising 4,650 feet. Mt. Washington averages 12% grade vs only 4.5% for Heartbreak Hill (less than 90 foot elevation gain over 0.37 miles).

I've run over Diamond Head Ave (#9) many times both with and without my jogging stroller too and that it ranks a measly 4 places after Mt. Washington also baffles me. It just isn't that hard. In the marathon, it is dark the first time you go over, so that barely counts. Perhaps that I have run over it so many times with Maddie in the stroller, makes the races over it that much easier. At least I was by myself!

So run big hills with your jogging stroller! It will be much easier when you are racing later and not pushing those extra pounds on wheels! But who will hold your water?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Book Recommendations

This could also be called "How to Get Motivated to Do Crazy Hard Athletic Stuff".

You probably don't have tons of time for pleasure reading, but if you can squeeze a page in while on the elliptical machine at the gym or one chapter at a time after the kids go to bed, I highly recommend these books I've read recently:

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb
Ultimate Fitness by Gina Kolata
Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox
Why We Run: A Natural History by Bernd Heinrich
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-night Runner by Dean Karnazes

None of the are how-to books. There are no training plans or diets. Just stories about athletes. I'm sure there are many others that I just can't think of at the moment.

What books you would recommend to inspire one's inner athlete?