“Lead by example.” I’ve had this phrase drilled into my head since my time spent in the military, and now as an Elementary School PE teacher, devoted (doting?) father, and husband this phrase still rings true. Fitness has always been a priority to me. The old adage: “Civilize the mind, but make savage the body” may as well glow above my head in bright neon lights.
Being a Dad is one of those self-motivating jobs and it’s as time consuming as we make it — without the option to call in sick. I actually missed our daughter’s birth due being deployed in Afghanistan, so I made a point to adhere to the “being Dad fills up my day” philosophy once I returned as my way to make up lost time.
Racing Spartan obstacle courses was initially something I did for me. It was my hobby, my way of putting something up on the calendar so that I had a reason to train. I would come back with stories and race pictures and both my daughter, Josalyn and my son, Jaxon would listen and observe with bright-eyed excitement.
Though Jos was only seven and Jax was five when I first began running Spartan Races, they began asking if they could begin jogging with me, or if they could join in on a workout session. I stocked our garage gym with small hand weights, kid-friendly jump-ropes, and other “fun” equipment. My wife, Lisa joked casually that “they really look up to you and your races. Good job, Dad!” It hit me — she was right…this was how many of us learned as kids — watching and learning from the adults around us. In a world that’s getting increasingly soft, I was teaching my kids how to…well, Spartan the *Bleep* Up.
Armed with this new epiphany, I began sharing my Spartan Race stories, pictures, and the occasional race video with my students as well. It was magical! Kids were begging to run laps to see who came in first, and burpee contests became a legit competition during recess. What started as my personal hobby became a way to inspire not only my own children, but also the hundreds of kids that I taught on a daily basis.
Jos turned ten a few days ago, and she is content running the mini-Spartan…for now. She knows at thirteen she gets a cellphone, and at fourteen she gets Spartan Race entries. Her current 5K PR is 24:16, and she can pump out thirty strict form push-ups straight. Jax was the first child in his grade to complete crossing the “big kid” monkey bars, and now at age seven has an almost fearless zeal on playgrounds. Their classmates and friends try their best to follow along while I watch Jos and Jax… well, lead by example.
This, my fellow Spartans, is why I continue to take on obstacle course races while being Dad. This is #WhyIRace.
Remember, Spartan Dads: You get a FREE Kids Race with adult sign up through Father’s Day!