by Brakken Kraker

Ten months and three days ago life as I knew it changed forever. My wife, Lisa, and I were blessed with a beautiful, perfect baby boy. We immediately slipped right into the role of parents and have not looked back yet. We felt decently prepared for our new life as people had spent the previous nine months giving advice about how to handle a new child and all the joys and struggles that go along with this. However, there was one new part of this equation that we were not prepared for: how to give our baby boy all the time and love he needs and deserves while maintaining some level of physical activity. Unlike the majority of parents giving us advice who had, at most, one competitive individual in their marriage, both Lisa and I are runners. This doesn’t allow for one of us to choose the time and duration of our workouts while the other goes about their daily routine. We have double training time to fit in our days, and this turned out to be a struggle for us.

Our two options for when to work out are before and after school (we both teach), and my after school time is also restricted by coaching. I will freely admit that for several months I just took the easy route (“Lisa you can run today, I’ll stay and watch Braden”). I not only missed the daily workouts, but really lost a lot of the fitness I had built up over the previous year. My turning point came when I talked with Cody Moat at a race and realized that he is in the same boat as me. He is a father, a teacher and a coach yet still manages to be one of the best trail runners in America- oh, and he has three more kids than I do… It also didn’t hurt that I felt incredibly out of shape during that race. I knew a change needed to be made, so I made it. Braden now sits in the stroller for every run I do, from long runs to speed intervals. It is not always the perfect running situation, but at the end of the day what could be better than running every step of the way with my baby’s happy face looking up at me? Plus, there has to be some benefit from pushing a bulky, plastic wheeled, non-running designed stroller up and down hills. The teams I coach have grown to love having Braden around, and he always makes doing core easier when he is crawling over everyone and giggling.

Lisa and I have come full circle with our training, and it now includes Braden on a daily basis. As a man and a father there is nothing more rewarding than a beautiful wife and a smiling little boy waiting for me at the finish line, and now I get to experience that every single day for every run I go on. On Father’s Day I can only hope that this post pays it forward and serves as someone else’s “Cody” talk. Make the time, put the excuses aside, and get out there. Include your child or children if you need to, and become the best father and man you can in the coming year.

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