Training for Fatherhood

Taking a break from running along the Mississippi River.

Taking a break from running along the Mississippi River.

My parents were visiting at the beginning of the summer, and as I was rolling around on the floor with my boys, I rattled off something to my dad in the moment that later felt poignant: “I don’t go to the gym as much as I do to train for a race; I train for fatherhood.” We both chuckled as my three-year-old tackled me, then as I lifted him off of me, my two-year-old came in flying on top of me. I caught him mid-flight and did a few bench presses with him. He cackled! One good thing about having started to workout (again) when your kids are born is that you can use them as weights, so when they grow, you naturally go up in weight! A few weeks after my parents left, I was swinging my boys in the den. Actually, I was using them as weights for kettle bell swings. I was working up a sweat, but they were just playing, resting, relaxing and swinging in Papi’s arms! I also started running again, which is a little embarrassing given that my ONE New Year’s Resolution was to NOT run this year. (Oh, well; there’s always next year, right?) But, I wanted to start running in order to keep up with my boys as they ran around.

This is a big shift for me because I was in a wheelchair 10 years ago. I couldn’t feel my legs, much less walk due to Guillain-Barré Syndrome. It completely changed the path of my life. I was a healthy, independent-minded, graduate student in Spain about to apply for PhD programs, but I had to quit school and move out of my third floor walk-up and move back in with my parents in Georgia. Though I haven’t used a wheelchair since 2005 and haven’t used a cane much in the past three years, I kept thinking that I couldn’t do certain things due to physical limitations. Within the past month, however, my personal mindset has shifted again: I can. Working out at the gym and seeing the weight I use increase is a powerful feeling, but my ultimate goal is training for life and fatherhood. If I get to do a few races along the way, that’ll be a bonus.


The Beginning
About Paulo Jennemann

I'm first generation Southern; my dad is from Ohio, and my mom is from Puerto Rico. My wife and I moved to Memphis, TN from Madrid, Spain, and we have two sons. I'm a high school Spanish teacher, a home cook, a dad, and a blogger. I don't always speak English after 7pm.

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