Fitness and Fatherhood: Passin’ It On
By Joey Lee
Afew years ago, while speaking to an elementary school about a 150 mile race across the Sahara Desert I was training for, a little girl, about six years old, asked a question that really bothered me, “Can girls do that?”
Fast forward eight years and that question haunts me now more than ever because I am now snuggling with a beautiful baby girl of my own. What can I do to give my daughter the confidence, the strength and the intelligence so that a question like that never enters her mind?
After months of contemplation, one of the main ways I’m hoping to accomplish this, and the way most appropriate for this publication, is to pass to her my love and passion for training and racing.
I’ve been an athlete all my life. Nearly everything I have is because of what sports have taught me. My vacations are built around races. My closest friends are my training partners. I even met my wife through training.
Through racing, I’ve learned the value of hard work, setting and achieving goals, failing, winning, sportsmanship and the list goes on. And along with all of that, I’ve gained the confidence that comes from knowing I can do whatever I set out to do.
I know my daughter Ginger has a mind of her own, she’ll do what she wants and like what she likes, but I’m hoping to pass my passion on to her, and through that, let her know I believe in her.
The first part of my evil scheme is to lead by example. Ginger needs to see her parents maintain their training and racing habit, the hard work and success that comes from it. And it’s even more important that she sees her mom and other women competing, so I’ll make sure that happens.
We’ll push, without pushing. Now I’m no nut-job high pressure dad, I realize there needs to be a balance. We need to encourage Ginger, push her some, but not to the point where she feels pressure.
We’re going to make it fun. If you don’t like to do it, if it isn’t fun, you’re not going to do it. I still make my workouts fun, I play in the pool after a swim, I run through puddles, I bunny hop stuff on the bike. Now I’m really looking forward to having fun with her.
We’ll instill the lifestyle from the beginning. We’ve already got several racing weekends planned, and when Ginger was just a few days old, we had her in the baby jogger, walking with her, getting her used to the many hours she’ll enjoy being pushed on roads all over the country.
Racing is what we love; it’s not the exercise as much as it is finding something positive you can do with your child. For you it may be skiing or rollerblading or cricket; who cares as long as it’s something that will build your child’s body and mind.
Seriously, I’m really not some psycho-sports dad. As much as I want Ginger to love triathlon, I know it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that she finds something she loves, something that gives her as much as triathlon has given me. Something that gives her confidence and teaches her she never has to ask, “Can girls do that?”