Exercising Like a Kid The Outdoor Fitness Experience

Exercising Like a Kid  The Outdoor Fitness Experience

I am down in Virginia visiting family this week – I’m at my Mom’s right now. She still lives in the same neighborhood I grew up in although she’s in a different house now. I headed out for a run through the neighborhood this morning and ended up at the Civil War trenches and fields across the street from our old house. Man, did that bring back memories!

We didn’t really realize it then – hey, don’t all kids live across the street from the endless hours of outdoor fun that can be had in old Civil War trenches? – but we literally grew up across the street from a “natural” amusement park!

Every afternoon after school, every weekend, and certainly in the summer, I’d be out there running and biking up and down the hills, climbing trees, playing frisbee in the field and having fun. Sometimes with friends or my sister, but probably just as often it was just me out there.

I “earned” my first stitches in those trenches when I hit my face on my handlebars after racing down a hill to take a jump off the other side of the trench…I sent a front tooth through my lip – fortunately, it was a baby tooth – but that tells you a little bit about me doesn’t it? Not a lot of fear in that little 5 year old! (Not that it would have saved my tooth but….Helmets? What?!! Not in 1975!!!)

We had names for all the “trails” there: Big Daddy and Dead-Man’s (with the accompanying “legend”) come to mind almost 35 years later. The hills don’t seem as big anymore of course, and some of the trees have fallen, but the dirt is still the bright red clay it always was (that I am sure my Mother will never forget after years us tracking it into the house!)

I still run by the Breastworks and my old house every time I am in town, and I have taken my niece and nephew there to play over the years…

but today was a little different…

Today I looked at my old stomping grounds with the video of Erwan Le Corre in mind (remember the MovNat video “The Workout The World Forgot” I posted here a week or so ago?) Today the trenches were not just somewhere I used to play, the trenches were somewhere I could still play. And so I did!

I stood in front of my old house facing the trenches and thought about how I used to race out of my house and – zoop! – right up the hill or right down into the trenches. The memory brought an instant smile to my face and off I went!

I raced up and down the trenches. I climbed some trees. I swung from branches. I jumped over and around the old cannon that is there as a landmark of what was the Intermediate Confederate Line from 1862-65. I ran through the bushes that we used to use as a bit of a fort. I scrambled up Dead Man’s and then crab-walked back down…

When I emerged 15 minutes later, I was sweaty, covered in red clay and had a couple of decent sized scratches on my legs….and a HUGE smile on my face!

I did something similar last week in Maine. I played on the rocky coastline where I also spent hours as a child. I probably covered about a 1/2 mile of the coast scrambling up and over the big, craggy rocks, taking the “hard” way whenever I could. I climbed up and over the seawall from about 20 feet down. I ran on top of the seawall, launching myself off the end of it, trying to land like a cat and keep running without slowing.

At that end of that “workout”, I had ripped my pants, drawn blood from a cut on my hand and I had seaweed slime on my legs…and again, a HUGE smile as I thought “Man, that was fun!”

We do so little romping and playing now as adults, it is as though our bodies have forgotten how. Sometimes, I find myself thinking, even feeling “Oh I couldn’t do that, my body is too heavy, or too whatever” to do something I used to do…do you know what I mean? We place those restrictions on ourselves before we even try.

But I have discovered an interesting thing in just these two MovNat-style outings….my body can still do that stuff! And once I am doing it, I feel light and nimble and agile, just as I did as a child! It is like it is a deep-seeded physiological memory that my concious mind forgot but my body did not.

Did you do something similar as a kid? How many years has it been since you did anything remotely like it? If you can, give it a try now and see how it feels!

It is very, very cool and very, very fun! I highly recommend it!

Tagged with: exercise • jumping • outdoor fitness • running

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