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Talking to kids about sport – Anything is possible

Muddiest 10k ever! Feels amazing to be home, clean and drinking hot chocolate though. What a buzz!

We’ve been talking a lot about overcoming sporting barriers in our house recently. I try to set a good example with my kids practically and I think talking to kids about sport is really important too. I run with a ladies’ running club twice a week, from time to time we enter races too, from 5k races at 5am to half marathons. This weekend some of us were silly enough to enter a 10k race which is notorious for it’s brutal weather conditions. The location has its own weather system and the timing at the beginning of March seems to guarantee wet and wild weather, “In like a lion’ as they say about March.

We sat in the car contemplating what we had done, the rain lashed at the window – knowing we’d be soaked before we even began. Reluctantly we grabbed bin bags and an umbrella and jogged slowly to the start through torrential rain. The warm up was in full swing, a scene reminiscent of Glastonbury, with competitors in Day Glo clothing leaping up and down enthusiastically in rain and mud to dance music.

The weather calmed as we took our places at the start, the race was muddy and the puddles huge, but it was a fun race. I returned home splattered in mud with a shiny medal, a glowing example of the serotonin boost that getting outdoors in bad weather and achieving something physical gives you. I’m really not a fan of races – they still remind me too much of bad experiences of competitive PE at school – I have to really remind myself how much I love the sense of personal achievement afterwards and basking in well deserved endorphins, or I would never do them. A supportive running group really helps me see the fun side of running.

This morning I am running a 10k, with some of my running club friends. Running together is about more than running, today we’re moral support too. One of my friends is running in memory of her nephew for @diabetesuk The weather forecast is dismal so I am up early eating porridge and making a thermos of hot chocolate.

Nowadays running is something I just do automatically. But it catches me every now and again, someone will start a running journey, look at me and assume I couldn’t possibly be a runner, or take me for a beginner, and start a lecture about what they know about it.  Running makes me feel strong and happy, I’m proud to be good at running.

Racing on Saturday I wasn’t the fastest by any stretch, but thanks to See How She Runs I now know about technique, with the right arm drive and posture I can take on any hill, I can recover from that hill without walking and keep on going. I can run 10k without training, I can ramp up to a half marathon with training. I love the sense of achievement that gives me, especially given how much I loathed running at school. I share this with my kids, so they know they can enjoy sport on their terms and you can enjoy sport regardless of any barriers.

My eldest knows all about muddy exercise now too, she’s taken up rugby and I couldn’t be more proud of her. She’s gone from hovering on the pitch wondering what on earth is happening in her first session, to tackling in her second, winning matches in her third and scoring a try in her fourth. She loves to come home covered in mud and to make friends with girls from other schools and work as a team.

My youngest has cracked swimming – I wrote about it here – he is unstoppable now, he just wants to earn more and more badges and certificates.

More recently I’ve been trying to coach them through sports they don’t find quite as easy, to keep trying and not give up. We talk a lot about how failing is part of achieving and that everyone has their very own personal best.

When Mobility Nationwide who sell vehicles with wheelchair access sent through this campaign poster about incredible athletes in the paralympic games, and the problems they overcame to achieve phenomenal success, I had to share it with my kids. So much is about mind over matter. The conversations we have with our kids about sport, and the examples we set, the obstacles we overcome and our feelings about the sport we do are so important to share openly.

How do you talk to your kids about sport?

Anything is possible, achievement for all - Talking to kids about sport

Thanks to Mobility Awareness for collaborating on this post.




  1. 08/03/2017 / 12:37 pm

    Great post Penny, and well done you on your running achievements! I am hopeless at running and don’t really enjoy it, but I’ll happily walk for miles:) It’s great to find something that suits you. Like you I have bad memories of the competitive elements of PE at school, (in my case always being last to be picked for things) and as an adult I’ve always tended to go for solitary leisure activities. I have to be really careful not to pass my feelings on to my kids, I hated sports day at school and try to hide my anxieties for them when it comes around each year:)

    • Penny Alexander
      22/03/2017 / 9:26 am

      I love seeing pictures of your dog walks, they are so inspiring, and I guess not that solitary really 😉 I am looking forward to moving to the country and taking more exciting walks with my hound! x

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