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Dads on the Run

By Matt Haverkamp

I will never forget a conversation I had with one of my neighbors a few months before my wife and I had our daughter. It was after a hard run and I was in the front yard weeding. He stopped by, shook his head and said, "I used to be active like you. I used to garden and run....then I had kids."

That's what drives this DC Urban Dad.

As parents, we know that adding kids to the equation -- whether you have 1 or 8 or 20 -- changes your life forever. You look at things differently: money, work, spare time, etc. Everything is a trade-off to something else. You just have to make the hard choices.

One of those that we (my wife and I) refuse to trade on, however, is exercise. We work hard to stay active.

So about three months ago a few dad buddies and I decided to get together each Sunday for a run. The only requirement: you bring the kid and your jogging stroller.

The group we formed -- DC Dads on the Run -- meets every Sunday at Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park around 8:45 in the morning. Our goal is 3 plus miles of Daddy time. Time to discuss sports, work, marriage, child milestones, funny stories or anything else that comes to mind.

We get loads of stares and cheers from fellow Moms, high-fives from the Dads and Granddads not to mention the occasional snicker to seeing 4 dads, 4 babies and 4 BOB strollers.

The end goal is not rock hard abs (although we would not complain) but rather threefold:

1) Reinforce at early age how important it is to keep active and healthy.
2) Keep our own tickers moving and grooving; we got kids to look after, you know.

And finally,

3) To add a little daddy bonding time to our lives as we share in the Dad journey.

Matt Haverkamp writes the blog DC Urban Dad. He is also a longtime colleague of mine, working currently as the manager of ad innovations for Washington Post Digital. He has one daughter.

By Stacey Garfinkle |  August 7, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Good for Matt. Sounds like he's having a gay ol' time with the dudes every Sunday. Ain't nothing like a little bonding while working up a good sweat to start off the morning!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | August 7, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

"He has one (baby) daughter"

'nuff said.

Posted by: 06902 | August 7, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

That's sounds fun and is a good idea...but how do I do that with 3 kids under 5? Maybe the three of them could push me in a stroller!

Posted by: happydad3 | August 7, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations for making exercise a priority, you are relieving stress and role modeling for your kid.

Don't listen to the naysayers about "only 1 kid" - you may not be able to jog with 2-3 kids but you can take 1 at a time, or find an alternative exercise regime. Just remember to reciprocate with your wife!

Posted by: cheekymonkey | August 7, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

We've run with our kids since they were old enough for the baby joggers. Keeps us involved in our favorite sport, in great shape, and it's one of the best things we do for our relationship. When we can race with them we do to show sportsmanship, race manners (anyone want to start a flame as to who's more dangerous in a race -- stroller runner or iPOD-too-loud runner?) and a healthier lifestyle. Kids seem to love it, they're ready to go when the stroller comes out, they cheer us (especially on hills), they enjoy the scenery, they cheer other runners. And some days best of all, they get great naps. You can always count on us to cheer on other runners, but we do cheer harder for stroller runners.

Posted by: StrollerMomma | August 7, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

That's awesome Matt! Keep it up. Exercise is important for the mind and body. Great Friday post!!!

Posted by: pipe1 | August 7, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Several years ago, I bought a walkie-talkie set and let my girls stay home alone for brief periods while I ran a few laps around the neighborhood. Now they're older and I can carry my cell phone and go a little further afield. Of course I live in a safe area with good neighbors close by. But there's a direct correlation between exercise and parental sanity for me! I had to figure out something even as single mom.

Posted by: annenh | August 7, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

WARNING: Be prepared for the onslaught. Here they come.

Posted by: pipe1 | August 7, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Good for you annenh. I've considered doing something similar, but can't even bring myself to go for a walk while the kids are sleeping and-- I stay within range of a "baby" monitor. I have this neurotic hang up about breaking laws-- especially ones where I can end up losing my kids to CPS. Of DC. [shudder]

Posted by: captiolhillmom | August 7, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Annenh, We did the same thing when the kids were little - running/walking around the block or even the house just to get some exercise in.

We also used to go to schools with playgrounds and tracks in the late afternoon or after dinner, the kids would play and I'd walk and my husband would run around the track. The kids counted our laps and even if it was hot - walking and running for 20-30 minutes is still pretty good.

Now they are older and I can leave for an hour to go to the gym, but I remember the creative days!

Posted by: cheekymonkey | August 7, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I don't have kids, but the rockclimbing gym I belong to (go Sportrock, Alexandria and the renovations!) is pretty kid friendly. They'll be babies sleeping in their carry-thingies in the bouldering area and toddlers just hanging out with their folks. I've definitely been in the yoga classes with seven year olds. Climbing is a pretty communal sport with a live and let live mentality, which I think helps alot. Plus, what kid doesn't like climbing around on stuff?

Posted by: em15 | August 7, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Running and jogging are way too dangerous for me. I'll stick with jumping on the trampolene for exercise.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | August 7, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I love those people who say: what does he know - he only has one kid? Well, yes, he has one kid. And he's figured out a way things work for him.
So - when he has more kids, well, he'll figure out other ways. He can't figure out more now - he only has the one kid.
My husband and I walk our child to school (I usually put on ankle weights - cause, well, ya know, everything helps!). We walk around the block after dinner many days.
We wii fit - it's in the house, can do it all the time, it's a good motivator. I'd love to join the gym, but, well, ya know, choices with money and all.
So we do what we can - we go and ride bikes, too (we just rode to school and back for the meet and greet).
We try our darndest (sp?). We do what we can when we can. And we fit it into the schedule. My husband bikes to work (and everywhere else these days...).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 7, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

After years of watching my 10 y.o. girl swimming lap after lap, I decided I should use that time to exercise too. Watching her swim (since she was 5) has been motivational for me and got me moving. My 2 y.o. enjoys her baby jogger and tells me to run when I slow down too much. She likes to yell "run" when we walk together (out of the stroller) then I watch her take off at top-speed. I wish we could be as motivational for my DP.

Posted by: flabbergast | August 7, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to say: Matt, I applaud your end-goals. I don't think another child or 2 (if it happens) will interrupt you and your wife's determination to stay active. They're easy excuses only if parents want them to be.

Posted by: flabbergast | August 7, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

There's an important point here that I took home. I've got 3 1/2 year old twins and so spare time is at a premium. It was cooking for me. I like good, home cooked food and enjoy exploring different cuisines. This often meant having dinners late

It also gave me much more control over what the kids eat. Yes, they bet their fare share of mac&cheese, but it's made with cheese, butter, milk, and noodles, not a packet of powder. Not judging others, but it's something that's important to me and so that's where I invested my time.

I think it's important for adults to carve out some time or activities that you'll do even after you have kids. 1, 2, or more.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | August 7, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

These are great suggestions to stay active as a parent. And I remember the glory days of the trampoline too!

Posted by: KatLuvsShoes | August 7, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Makes me wonder if I could do the same thing with my elderly father? Maybe an adult size BOB Stroller?

Posted by: ChattyCathyVA | August 7, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"The group we formed -- DC Dads on the Run.."

What I implied in my original "nuff said" post was that it would definitely get harder (though I manage it with two kids, just work it in at odd times, and sacrafice other stuff).

I will absolutely make fun of him for naming his running group, though. Dad to dad, that is one of the LAMEST things I've read in a while.

Posted by: 06902 | August 7, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

If/when he has a second kid, he can just get a double stroller and run with that.

Posted by: dennis5 | August 7, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

06902, What would you call your running group, since the name has to be ultra cool for you to hang with them?

Posted by: cheekymonkey | August 7, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Cheeky, the point is I wouldn't call it ANYTHING. It boggles my mind that any guy would name their "running group" (a.k.a. three other dudes that they run with). I just can't even imagine the conversation..."hey guys, what do you think we should call ourselves?" Maybe it's just me, I don't know. Maybe I should start naming stuff. I'm going to have drinks with my neighbors tonight...The DC Sam's Summer Club!

Posted by: 06902 | August 7, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they named their group because they are trying to attract other dads, runners, promote jogging with kids - who knows? Quite frankly - who cares?

Have fun with your neighbors, I am going across the street to my neighbors in a bit and I know we can come up with some good names after a few adult beverages.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | August 7, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

"Cheeky, the point is I wouldn't call it ANYTHING. It boggles my mind that any guy would name their "running group" (a.k.a. three other dudes that they run with)."

Dude. He has a website with information about joining the group

Kinda hard to have a website for the running group if you don't give it a name.

Posted by: LisainSilverSpring | August 7, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Hey 060902, here's a suggested name for your group of one: "Dumb Ass Runs His Mouth." 'Nuff said...

Posted by: Doug20 | August 8, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for this post. Exercising with kids is a great way to model the behaviors you want to see in in your children. You are doing a great job! There will always be a good excuse ( time, too many kids, energy) but exercising should be a part of daily life. My husband and I have 2 young children and we find creative ways to exercise with and without our children. My daughter loves to hold my feet while I do sit ups, and she counts for me too! 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,10,14,20! :)

Posted by: jenniferkeefer | August 11, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

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