Monday, 19 November 2012

Don’t tell a 4-year-old something unless you want it taken literally

I’ve been a little lax with the sprinting of late, so I took my kids down to the local sports field yesterday afternoon for a bit of wheelbarrow racing (See the Hobo Prowler Sled post).  Now, if you’re questioning whether or not to do this type of exercise, let me just say that the bewildered looks that one gets from passing motorists (I have to push them a few blocks to get to the field), while pushing two little helmeted toddlers in a wheelbarrow, are worth the price of admission on their own.

Yesterday I started off by doing end-to-end sprints (close to 100 metres I guess) with both kids in the wheelbarrow.  These don’t sound like much but, let me tell you, I’m totally gassed at the end of one of them and need a minute or two to recover before doing another.  4-year-olds are of course known for their patience, so I made the mistake of telling my daughter, immediately after one sprint, “Hold on, Daddy just needs 10 seconds to rest.”  Well, she took that as a signal to start the clock, “1, 2, 3, 4…10, ready, set, go!).  And she counts fast too!  So then I was off again, sucking in some icy November air and trying not to slow down before reaching the other end of the field.  

After about 8 of these, I was done.  But I learned an important lesson.  I don’t usually strictly police my own rest periods and, I imagine as a result, sometimes take a little bit more time than needed.  Of course, I train alone, and when doing sets of 10X3 deadlifts or squats I can do a pretty good job of calculating when I’m recovered enough for the next set.  But it’s a bit haphazard.  That problem is compounded if you lift in a gym, where there are other distractions like water fountains, conversations with other people, etc.  Just something to pay attention to, unless you want to bring a tyrannical and merciless 4-year-old girl around with you to all of your workouts.

After this, I got the kids out of the wheelbarrow and we did a few lengths of the field chasing each other.  Then we stumbled upon a new exercise that was even more hilarious (from a kid’s perspective that is) than the first.  It involved me holding them by both wrists and basically sprinting along as fast as possible while alternating swinging them up into the air and having them touch down briefly with every sixth or seventh stride I took – kind of giving them the feeling that they were bounding along on the moon with minimal gravity.  By alternating sides each time, for me it was kind of similar to doing a diagonal kettlebell swing or reverse woodchopper each repetition - Compounded by the fact that we were running continuously.  It was hard to get them to take turns with one another, and the concept of Daddy resting between ‘sets’ was out of the question.  Finally I had to basically collapse into a heap for them to take pity on me.

All told, it was a pretty decent workout, and the kids got some good exercise in and fresh air too.  So, if you feel (like me) that you might be occasionally milking your rest periods for a bit too long, you could get a timer/stopwatch....or you could save the money and bring your kids along.


  1. I can't think of anyone I know that not only "exercises" regularly, but does so with their kids, turning it into a family event. Kudos to you for using creative fun to sneak in some fitness!! And using work equipment like your wheelbarrow...legendary! If only I had one haha.

    I'd like to add, that if one has dogs, they can do something similar. We regularly take our dogs to the close by field and I have on occasion chased them around, then gotten them to chase us. Can be a nice impromtu fartlek workout that can be quite effective. Should probably be doing this more, but at least it's another option to get one's but moving!

  2. Thanks Sean! Yeah, they're merciless little motivators. Lately the snow has been too high for the wheelbarrow, but I've gotten a $10 plastic saucer sled that's big enough for both kids. I do sprints while pulling that behind, which adds about 80 lbs of resistance in total. They'd be happy to yell at me all day long to drag that thing faster - no concept of a rest interval in their little minds! If you're looking for a wheelbarrow, keep your eyes out on garbage pick-up days. That's where I got my first one (for free) - someone just throwing it out. I used it for a year or so until the axle broke. Got a nice new one from Lowes as a Father's Day present this year. Purrs like a kitten!
    Nice work with the dogs. I've read that dog owners are on average healthier than non-owners, probably because of reasons like this - they get their owners up and running around.