Shoot the puck

My daughter is six years old, and for the past two Winters my husband has been her hockey coach.  She plays for a local girls hockey league, and this year she’s got one hour of practice and one hour of a half-ice game per week.  If there’s anything cuter than a pack of ponytailed Grade 1-ers chasing a puck, well then I’ve never seen it.  She’s been on skates since she could walk, like a true Canadian kid, and she’s well-versed in Hockey Night in Canada and the Leaf’s Stanley Cup drought.  With sport-obsessed parents, she’s come by it honestly.

The improvement in her skills from the start of the season, at only two hours of ice-time per week, are incredible.  She’s gone from wobbly and timid to confident and sure-footed.  She can put her gear on entirely by herself, except for skate laces and helmet snaps.  She can pull her hockey bag, carry her stick, and she can last the full hour of ice-time.  She’s a dependable, capable competitor.  And yet, we’re teaching her to pass the puck….

Let me explain.

In a recent hockey meeting that my husband attended, it was pointed out that as our girls are growing into hockey players, they are often taught to pass the puck to their teammates.  In amongst the skill-building, they’re being told to give everyone a turn, to share the puck around, to not leave anyone out.  All good things, yes.  However, this has led to older players scoring less, favouring the pass over the shot.  Now, I have a son in hockey too, and I attend most of his practices and games; I see that he too, is told to pass the puck.  But not as often.  And not in the same situations.

You see, these instructions are heard differently through the ears of a young girl.  These words are spoken within a society that teaches girls to be polite and kind and teaches boys to be forthright and determined.  And while I’m not going to delve deep into the gender equality conversation on this chilly Tuesday morning, this post is a snapshot of what’s been on my mind.  I’ve got Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” and Kirstine Stewart’s “Our Turn” on my bedside table and I’m fresh off a Mexican vacation where women in the workforce was a big topic of conversation.

So I hope that my words make you think.

This small example, using the metaphor of hockey as life, shows me that there’s still work to be done.

Let’s teach our girls to shoot the puck.

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Three years ago, learning to skate.


Garmin Fenix 5S; a Rave Review

Activity trackers. All the rage lately, right? Well, I've just recently jumped on the bandwagon, and with just over a week of wearing my Garmin, I think it's safe to say that I'm officially hooked.

In all my years of running (and I'm coming up on 25 years of distance running!), I have never worn a device to track my distance or my pace. I pre-plan my routes most times, and use MapMyRun.com to know how far I'm going. The odd time, I'll turn on an app on my phone to give me an end-of-run summary of what I've just done, but most times I run old-school; no timers, no heart rates, no step counts. All that changed on August 1st, when I put on my shiny new Garmin Fenix 5S, and now I've become a data junkie.

My sister-in-law works for Garmin, and has been in the wearables world for a long time. I've borrowed her watches for a run here and there when we meet up on vacation or when she comes to visit, and I've always been intrigued. So I've been saving my pennies for months and finally decided to see what all the fuss is about. And while this post isn't meant to be a plug or an advertisement for Garmin specifically, I can only speak from this one experience, so it very well may end up reading like a brochure. Bear with me. Runners, you're going to love this…..

The Fenix 5S tracks my heart rate all the time, giving me insight into my cardiovascular fitness, and showing me an overall picture of my workouts. In fact, resting heart rates have become a competition between my husband and I (I'm winning):

It gives me a guide for my VO2 max, albeit based on an activity algorithm. And while the actual numbers may not be perfectly accurate, I like that it can give me a rough guide on my fitness level at the present time:

It measures my runs. This is the main reason that I got a Garmin to begin with; I wanted something to tell me my pace, to guide my interval training, to support my long runs. Here's a glimpse into what I did this morning:

As you can see, I love this thing. I can see what all the fuss is about. Happy training!


5 x 800m

If you’ve been following my blog over the years, you will know that I’m a sports fan.  My husband is too, and he’s a high school Phys Ed teacher, so sport is as much a part of his life as it is mine.  My practice is by no means “athletes only,” but my patient population is definitely dominated by active people leading active lives.  In fact, it was the fitness/movement/sport side of chiropractic that initially drew me in and made me want to join this profession.  I was a newly-graduated University student with a Bachelor’s degree and cloudy vision of my future when I got a job at the front desk of a sports-based practice in Calgary and it suddenly all seemed so clear: this was my path.  

OK, the intro’s over, onto my story:

I did an interval workout this morning; five repeats of 800m.  With the Summer upon us, my kids and my husband are now home during the day, and as I pulled on my running clothes just after 7am, my five-year-old daughter asked to come along.  “Can I come too?” she said, “since you’re not going far?”  She’s getting heavy to push in the running stroller, and my runs these days tend to be long and hilly, so adding 50lbs of drag makes her running-buddy days few and far between.  I’ve written about her coming with me on runs before and about how many hundreds of miles I’ve put on my running stroller with my kids over the years.  “Sure,” I said, and she jumped up to put on some shorts and grab some snacks.  My eight-year-old son’s interest was piqued when I mentioned the race-against-the-clock aspect of interval training and he asked to come too, which he hasn’t done in a couple of years.  So out the door we went, armed with scooters and the stroller, snacks and smiles.  

We did loops of our neighborhood; I’ve got an 800m left-turn-only route that I envision as my own personal track just outside my front door.  My son and I both had watches, and we raced each other and timed ourselves, he on his scooter, me pushing his sister in the stroller.  She soon finished her snacks and wanted in on the action- so she jumped on her scooter and the three of us raced the loop again and again.  It was the best interval workout I’ve ever had, only because they were there too, testing their limits, pushing their bodies, learning their capabilities.  

The point?  Well, let’s get back to my sports-fan intro…..

My daughter is a sports fan too.  In fact, at five years old, she often wakes before the rest of us, and sleepily wanders into the living room to watch SportsCentre or BlueJays in 30 until we get up.  You may ask why I’m focusing this post on her in relation to sport.  Well, that’s an easy answer: because the world is already set up to make boys into athletes.  Now, I’m most certainly a feminist (or more accurately, an equalist), but I’m not burning my bra while I write this post, I’m simply stating a fact.  “I’m going to win the World Series when I grow up,” she says while we watch baseball, “I’m going to win the Stanley Cup,” she says while we watch hockey.  I smile, I encourage, I tell her she better give her mama front row seats.  

I don’t tell her that pro-sports are nearly exclusively male, that female athletes are often sexualized for their feminity or criticized for their masculinity, or that the two eight-year-old girls at my son’s baseball practice get lumped into “boys, let’s hustle.”  I think about aspirations of female athletes; College scholarships, Olympic Games, sponsorships.  I think about how Title IX started to change the culture of sport when I was growing up.  I think about how if I had to do life over again, I would be a sideline reporter and eat/sleep/breathe the ups and downs of sport even more than I do now.  I think about how I can foster her passions, teach her to think outside of gender boundaries, and to use fitness and sport as a way to gain health and friendships, mental clarity and strength, energy and joy.

And I think about how I can show her that running 800m laps on quiet suburban streets before 8am is not weird, it’s actually pretty damn fun.