Sunday, March 10, 2013

Aspie On the Run

 Saturday was spent watching the Pinewood Derby.  

The weather finally took a turn for the warmer.  The boys (and Chris) enjoyed several bike rides over the weekend.

I've blogged about it before; sports and my Aspie son just don't mix.  As the athletic sort, I grieve the fact my son doesn't participate in sports.  I think about all the things he's missing: 

  • the camaraderie of a team,
  • the thrill of winning competitions, and
  • the satisfaction of improving a skill.
Most importantly, I bemoan the fact that he's lacking exercise.  I think of some of the issues he's struggled with (sleep and mood management, among others) and believe the addition of exercise might diminish some of these challenges.

With that in mind, I made it my mission to find a way to get him active, while still taking into account some of his fears/objections.  I knew team sports were out.  Even individual sports, in the company of a class, presented challenges.  But I imagined he could exercise alone without too much struggle.

I tossed out the idea of running (something near and dear to my heart).  I suggested he participate in the Couch to 5K program −a nine-week running program that prepares a novice runner for a 5K race.  To my surprise, he didn't grunt out a "no" (nor did he sing out a "yes").  To get to the place of "yes" required a serious amount of bribery (or positive reinforcement...pick your wording).  When we finally reached an agreement, he began his training.  I was over the moon excited. 

For the last five weeks, I've watched him do workouts on the treadmill.  The plan calls for 30 minute workouts, three times a week.  The first few workouts, he alternated running a minute and then walking a minute with a cool down and warm up.  Five weeks later, he ran twenty minutes straight!

He wants me to stand by the treadmill during his runs.  And so I find a place nearby and clutch his workout schedule.  I act as his cheerleader and coach.  When I see him start to languish, I belt out encouragement.  I shout out phrases from my own internal race mantra:

Every step is one step closer.

Think about all you've accomplished, not what is left to do.

Find peace in each stride.

I repeat these phrases over and over to my son, week after week, step after step.

During the last workout,  his energy began to wane.  I heard him say, "I'm thinking about how far I've come."

I loved hearing those words from his lips.  He's certainly come far in his running, but even farther in his life.  I celebrate with him on the distance he's traveled and work diligently with him to continue to move forward.

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