Archive for the ‘Health and Fitness’ Category


These days they're shocked when I put them on for something more active than a quick trip to the grocery store.

If you’re wondering how one can “sort of” run, just trust me, it’s very easy.  It goes something like this.

  • Wake up early one Saturday.
  • Notice that none of the kids are awake.
  • Notice that Autumn has arrived and she’s more beautiful than ever, so beautiful you might cry.  But you decide to run  instead.
  • Get into running gear in record time, as quietly as possible, before anyone can wake up and stop you.
  • Run. Run through a clear, crisp fall morning, past towering pines and know that you cannot stop this; you must run as often and as long as possible.  You must run several times a week!
  • Begin plans to shop for a double jogging stroller to accomodate kids too small to accompany you on bikes.
  • Run, still, filling your lungs with sweet, early morning air.
  • Decide that the 10-k race you saw advertised is just the goal you need to solidify your renewed commitment to regular running.  Ignore the fact that you haven’t run more than a mile without stopping in two years.  Ignore the fact that the 10-k is six weeks away.
  • Return home invigorated and determined.
  • Wake up early Monday morning rather sore and begin homeschool. 
  • Run with your kids during P.E. and wonder what happened to that Autumn-fresh feeling.
  • Manage to complete a mile before the kids are clamoring for the playground.
  • Experience relief that you didn’t fork over $300 for a jogging stroller.
  • Decide that you might enter a local 1-mile Fun Run/Walk with your kids.
  • Run when you can.

See, it’s easy! 

I have to admit, “sort of” is not the kind of running that I want to do.  “Sort of” lives in the same neighborhood as “mediocre” in my world.  But there are other things more important to me right now, other things that keep me from committing to three hours a week for running.  I know that one day these present commitments won’t be as pressing and my life will have room for bigger running goals. 

For now, I'll settle for what I can work in among greater priorities.

 In the meantime I enjoy what I have and run, sort of.


PS:    Fall is just as dangerous as Spring to a sporadic runner–those transitional seasons are intoxicating!

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We keep it simple.  I plan challenging physical activities, or the kids participate in organized, professionally directed programs.  Sometimes we do both!

A fun playground: climbing, swinging, sliding, running, rope ladders, balancing bars...the physical challenges are enough to keep them moving for at least an hour.

Playgrounds are a favorite P.E. location.  If the big kids get weary of their own play, I use the equipment to create obstacle courses and time them using the stop watch on my iPhone.  The young one is never bored!


Nature preserves are another favorite location.  Opportunities for physical challenges abound and the kids are eager to find them! 

Balancing Act: This kept them busy for quite some time, first walking then running then pretending to sword fight while running...

Of course, these locations have the added bonus of providing an outdoor classroom!  Sometimes I plan a science lesson or nature study to coincide with a good walk through the preserve.


In terms of organized sports, our kids have participated in indoor soccer, wrestling and dance.  But currently, I am directing their P.E. activities and having a great deal of fun doing so!  (Hint:  it’s even more fun if you participate!)  I’ll post a follow-up soon in which I will detail our P.E. plan for this semester.

Moving right along,


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To read the first post in this series, click here. ~K

I know you’ve been feeling great.  I’m glad, glad, glad for you!  I felt healthy and energetic throughout my first pregnancy.  I always felt grateful that pregnancy seemed to give me an extra boost and didn’t slow me down.

I strongly recommend pre-natal yoga for every pregnant woman! I had several DVDs and they were always comfortable and effective. I also recommend pre-natal massage. But I never had one of those, so be sure to let me know how it feels!

It also made it really easy to exercise regularly, which I did.  You can find plenty of research-based articles sprinkled with quotes from experts, exhorting you to exercise while pregnant, outlining all the good reasons to do so.  Google it and they will appear!

Here’s why I did it:

  • To minimize weight gain
  • To maintain good circulation as the pregnancy added weight and blood volume to my body
  • T0 help me relax
  • To keep my body strong for labor/delivery and recovery
  • To avoid developing sedentary habits that might continue after the baby was born
  • To make it easier to drop the pregnancy weight after the baby was born

Throughout my first pregnancy I walked most days for about a half hour.  I also tried to do a pre-natal DVD two to three times a week.  I picked one up at Half-Priced books and it was so dated I think someone was wearing leg-warmers, which means it was actually a VHS.  It was corny and not terribly challenging, but it worked for me at that time.

My absolute favorite pre-natal DVD is Fusion Pilates for Pregnancy with Jennifer Giani.  It’s a bit long–I think it runs a full hour–and it’s just stretching and light toning, but it makes a pregnant body feel fabulous.  Giani has put together a fantastic series of stretches that hit all the typical problem areas.  (Hello, lower back and hip flexors, please don’t snap apart the next time I try to bend over!)

If you’re not sure what you want to do to keep active, flip through a Fit Pregnancy magazine or visit their website. My doctor’s office always had a free copy available; your doctor might as well. 

And if you’re nervous about exercising, chat with your doctor about it.  You might be surprised what the doctor will “okay”.  I was surprised to learn that I could continue running while pregnant.  But, despite approval from my doctor, I just couldn’t do it.  I tried to go for a light jog one day but kept imagining my miniscule child ricocheting off the walls of my uterus, losing SAT points with every impact.  It just wasn’t worth the stress! 

I advise movement.  You choose what it is, but do it consistently. Let me know if you need leg warmers and I’ll send you a pair.



PS:  I wish I had written this to myself when I was pregnant with my third and fourth!

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Running: Here We Go Again!

My running shoes. Running shoes that fit and support beautifully. Priceless!

Well, I did it.  I turned myself into a runner. 

Lest there be any misunderstanding about things like speed, endurance and frequency, let me explain:  I like to run

That’s it.  I’m not fast. I don’t do it nearly as often as I would like and I usually don’t run more than a couple of miles before I have to walk.  But I like it. 

I like the anticipation of a run, wondering if it will be a good one or not, wondering if I will run as well or as far as I plan.  I like fighting through the initial stiffness before reaching the point where it feels good, as if my body finally remembers that it was made to run.  And I especially like how I feel when I finish: muscles and skin heated, energy surging, my mind clear and sharp.

All of these reasons are why, after any forced hiatus from running (like pregnancy), I am always eager to start up again.  And those same reasons  help me persevere as I reacquaint my body with the joys of pounding suburban sidewalks.  Like my old attempts at running once a year, it rarely goes as I expect because my mind and body just aren’t in sync.

If I could converse with my body, our little back-to-running chat would go something like this:

Me: O.K. We’ll start with a leisurely walk and make it a brisk one here in a few minutes.  I think we’ll continue that for about ten minutes for a good warm up.

Body: Sounds good to me!  Ahhh…feels good to stretch and get some fresh air!

Me: (breathing deeply)  Oh, yeah, this is nice.

Body: Wait, brisk walk already? I thought you said a few minutes!

Me: C’mon, I’m feeling strong. Let’s go ahead and pick it up!

Body: (muttering) Don’t. Push. It.

Me: I think I’m ready for a light jog.  Let’s do a 2 minute jog/1 minute walk sequence.

Body: What?! I just gave you a baby seven weeks ago!  What do you want from me?

Me: Whew! This doesn’t feel as good as I thought it would!

Body: You’re killing me!  I can’t concentrate when I’m jiggling all over like this.  Can we stick to walking ?  I’m still carrying all those banana splits you ate for nine months!

Me:  I could definitely use an out-of-body experience right about now…

Fortunately,  I just need that one over-eager session to settle myself back into reality. Nine months away from running is a long time.   It’s like starting all over again, expect for one significant detail:  I know I can do it and I know roughly how long it will take.  It might be a struggle, but knowing that the struggle will end is an invaluable boost.  It takes the edge off  those beginner’s pains.  It keeps me moving.

If you’re new to running or just getting back into a running routine (that’s me) ease in slow and steady.  You’ll reach your goal safely and make yourself a runner for life!


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“No other fact is so fundamental to running:  Done properly, running is fun.  Even when you do it improperly, running is still inherently, liberatingly fun.  If you doubt this, just spend a few minutes watching a child or a dog in any wide open space.  Their glee is instinctual and undeniable.”

-From A Few Rules to Run By, by Mark Remy; Runners World, January 2010

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woman_joggerbackTraining myself to run was one of the best things I ever did.  When I completed my ultimate goal of running thirty minutes without stopping, I established a significant reference point for the rest of my life. 

If I can make myself a runner, I would think, I can tackle that problem, survive this ordeal, figure that out, etc. 

I know, running nonstop for thirty minutes is hardly climbing Mt. Everest, but it was daunting enough that the sense of accomplishment seared itself into my memory.  It also taught me an invaluable lesson about breaking down an overwhelming task into manageable portions.

That’s exactly what my new running regimen did for me.   It was actually a run/walk program, a way of easing my body into the habit of running endurance. I had one thirty-minute workout every other day.  Every two weeks the amount of walking would decrease and the running would increase. 

For the first two weeks I ran one minute and walked four minutes for half an hour.  During weeks three and four, I ran two minutes then walked three.  (Each session was bookended by a few minutes of walking and stretching.)

I’ve just got to say it again:  it was so much better than simply deciding to be a runner one day and heading out the door for a “cold turkey” three mile run!

 I wish I could say that my new program made running a breeze. The truth is that it was still hard.  The training schedule made it easier, more manageable, but my body still had to endure the discipline necessary for me to become a runner.   At the end of my first few workouts, it was near-agony to run for sixty seconds.

But then, by the end of that first two weeks running for a minute  was no longer a challenge. My body and mind longed to be pushed a little harder, a longing I immediately regretted during the next training segment!  This cycle repeated itself each time I entered a new two-week phase.

I remember visiting my family once during the early part of the 3/2 phase.  My younger brother joined me for my daily run, playing drill sergeant when he thought I needed to pick up the pace and match the rate his six-foot, three-inch body managed.  It wasn’t bad actually.  I had never run with a partner before during my new training routine and it felt good to have the encouragement.

Then, in the very last week of training, during which I ran for the entire thirty minutes, something wonderful happened.  Shortly after the first mile, an incredible sense of energy and strength infused my body.  I felt as if I had been made to run.  I quit watching the time and simply ran until it didn’t feel good anymore, just a little over four miles. 

Finally, I understood “runner’s high.”  And I’m hooked for life.

Next time:  re-training or, wondering if the high is gone forever.


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So, I finally decided to do it right.  Using a sensible, self-directed training plan, I was going to guide myself to running further than the distance to my mailbox. 


This is not me. If anyone ever takes a photo of me from this perspective, I will never run again unless I'm wearing a burqa.

But first I needed two things:  real running clothes and a digital wrist watch.  I know, I’ve already argued that running doesn’t need special equipment.  However, my training program required breaking each session into timed increments and I just knew that I had a better chance of success if I were wearing the right clothes. 

I didn’t want this effort to be some pale imitation.  I wanted to join the fraternity of athletes for whom running was not a fitness activity but a regular part of their lives. Naturally this transformation could not start in the “sporting wear” section of the local bargain store.

It is likely that I held my breath when I walked in to this store, expecting the clerks to raise an eyebrow and suggest that I do my shopping at Target.  But nothing like that happened.  I was in.  And  I only knew two things:  I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and I didn’t want any of the super-short, underwear shorts.

More than one hour and less than a hundred dollars later, I walked out ready to run. 

By the way, I somehow ended up with a pair of the reviled shorty-shorts with the built in briefs.  I still don’t know how that happened.  Maybe it’s because they were purple.  Maybe I was afraid the staff wouldn’t let me check out without purchasing a pair.  I do know this:  I don’t  want to run in any other kind of shorts. Ever.

Here’s a list of what I purchased. These items are still the core of my running wardrobe.  They would be the core of my regular wardrobe as well, but I love my family and try not to express that by embarrassing them.

  • 1 pair of  running shorts with a built-in brief, something like this
  • 1 pair of  running tights, similar to these
  • 2 pairs of double-layered socks

The watch was much easier.  I just needed digits. Cheap digits, because I’m a thrifty lady, so for this purchase I passed through a bargain store and got what I needed for about ten bucks.   

I spent the weekend grousing over the instruction manual for my  simple watch until I finally figured out how to set the correct time, then laid out my new gear, eager to start on Monday.

Twelve weeks, the article had promised.  In twelve weeks I could train myself to run thirty minutes without stopping.  I was ready!

Next time:  enthusiasm gets broadsided by reality.

Run a mile for me,


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