Herding Goofballs: Josh Farnsworth is in training to run a 10-mile race. Care to join him?
Eight Marches ago, an innocuous text changed the course of my summer.
My friend from New Jersey wanted to challenge himself to get in shape for his city’s half marathon. To help, he immediately thought of a sucker...er, I mean...friend to help take up the challenge with him.
And so, with a simple, “I’m in” reply, I put together a running plan and set off to conquer my greatest athletic feat yet. I found an app that helped me track my mileage along with my friend’s progress. (Running to and from New Jersey every day seemed a little advanced at the time).
Mid-September became the second-most important date on my fall calendar. You see, my wife was due with my oldest son, Cooper, about four weeks after the race.
In the context of becoming a father, I saw this workout regimen as one last chance to get myself in top-flight shape prior to running around as a freshly-minted dad.
Cooper was always my carrot at the end of the stick. After completing this training and successfully finishing this half marathon, I (after taking the next couple days for my muscular system to recover) welcomed Cooper three weeks later into this world.
In hindsight, the training helped to check some new-parent athletic boxes:
- Quick first step out of bed when crying starts
- Endurance to rock baby to sleep from 2-5 a.m., sleep for a tight 10 minutes, only to wake up and do it again at 5:10 a.m.
- Deadlifts of the baby over my head for both of our amusement
I also wrote a letter to my soon-to-be born son on perseverance the night after I finished my footrace...
“Dad finished a Half Marathon today. It was a challenge that pushed me and left me tired. But that's life sometimes. Life will push you and you will feel like sitting down or quitting. What do you do? Find a friend like mine to help you get through… People will tell you life is unfair and too hard. Just smile, lace up those shoes and believe the best is always possible when you put love and hope ahead of all things.”
But that’s where the commitment to an active lifestyle plateaued. Sure, I have run a couple of 5Ks since and run around after the ever-active kiddos, but the motivation has hit a wall. I haven’t truly quit but sitting down has been ever-present.
I have energy, but it is inconsistent. Worse than that, I admit guilt that my kids are something I have used as an excuse not to get back into better shape. I have used everything on the list…
- Too tired putting kids to bed
- Too tired getting up with kids too early
- Too busy anticipating that I will be chasing after the kids in the backyard
- Too guilty to leave my kids at the house at times to get a quick three miles in (despite my wife being at home anyway)
Don’t get me wrong, parenting is tiring. We have to cut ourselves slack. Energy is precious, especially when the kids are young. But I can’t help but feel I that my kids went from the carrot to the excuse - and that’s just not okay with me anymore.
I want to recommit to being an active parent. Every year, I vow that this will be the year I reconnect with that perseverance. Every year, I do meh, but never reach that point. This year, I turn 40 and feel like it is enough of a milestone to get back on that bike...er...in those running shoes.
Cooper, as it turns out, has shown an interest in running. After rereading that letter I wrote eight years ago, I have an announcement…
In early October - in the general vicinity of Cooper’s birthday - I am going to run a 10-mile course.
And that’s where you come in, my readers.
I will be using an app to plot out my progress. Any readers who feel like they want to try and take on this challenge with me, I urge you to email me (see my address below) and we can virtually motivate each other. Don’t feel like you have to tackle 10 miles, but I urge you to reach for that carrot just out of reach.
Running by myself is possible, but as I learned eight summers ago, having a friend out there too, did wonders for pushing me.
If you are game, in the email subject line, drop me an “I’m in.” We’ll coordinate an April 2 launch of this baystateparent running guild together (I would start April 1, but April Fool’s Day with two young boys has me completely booked for all the pranks they want to pull on me).
At the final half mile, I am going to have Cooper and Milo meet me and help me finish the race. At the end of the day, I want my health to increase, but more importantly, I want to show them firsthand what perseverance can look like.
And sharing a few sweaty steps with my son will top any finish line tape to break through.
So, baystateparent readers, are you in? All I ask is that you make your kid(s) a part of your race.
Let’s show them that they are the carrot and never anything else. A brilliant, handsome, modest writer once wrote that challenges can push you and leave you tired sometimes, but that is life. Time to push back - together.
Just smile and lace ‘em up.
Josh Farnsworth is a husband, father of goofballs Cooper and Milo, goofball himself, and award-winning writer and columnist living in Worcester. He can be reached for column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.