The below was written in response to my PLAYout post.
It is creative and a wild ride.
Please to enjoy Miguel’s post.
Heroes of Leothendrail, a play-out for children of every age, including me.
“Fun is what will keep you coming back!” Lance, from The Jungle of Life
I am childless, yet for a joyful time in my life, I had to work with children.
I taught, worked in a boarding school, a children’s home and did a bit of work with homeless children abroad. That made me relive how fun it were my days as a holiday camp staff, and then earlier as a child myself.
Back then, running was always fun.
So how come, did we trade our playouts for workouts?
Why are we missing the joy of jumping wild outside for the treadmill cubicle?
I, for one, had made up my mind to hoist the bonny flag of fun, and had act upon it, working on some articles on my own blog, Wisdom & Life, sharing how anybody, even the out of shape can retake the childhood joy of exercising.
One of my suggestions to make running fun was to hold an adventure.
You know like adventure games, fantasy games, roleplaying and all that stuff.
Taking myself as a guinea pig I designed an adventure playout and tested it. This is how it went.
The Kingdom of Leothendrail
The map came first.
There is a park near home I go everyday for running.
I know it well and even though it’s nice, repetition tends to make everything dull.
But I promise there’s nothing that a bit of imagination can’t make fun.
So I draw a map of my park, transformed as a fantasy kingdom, noting several locations:
• The rows of the heroes. The entrance of the park became an area filled with statues of the ancient heroes of Leothendrail, which we’ll soon join, of course.
• The village. That’s a playground in real life, filled with joyful children and bored-down parents who look like the boy who had to take out his old dog for a walk.
• The wilds. This is a path among trees and flowers that leads us to…
• The Enchanted Forest. A path flanked by tropical plants and palms which takes us to:
• The Paladins Keep. This is the place were heroes train to defeat the monsters, save the Kingdom and in general be the good people we admire. In real life, an open area that few people use.
• Castle Leothendrail. In real life, a raised, ample surface used for performances on occasion. Most days it is empty.
• Lake of the Lady. A pond with swans in both real and fantasy life.
• Mount Fearsome. The highest point of the knoll where the park is located. It’s also the home of a terrible red dragon.
Then I needed a story.
I tried nothing fancy, just an old true and tested fantasy story.
So we have this boy (or boys or girl or girls) who lives in a farm in the village near the border.
But then the fearsome orks, from Mount Fearsome sacked their homes, and they must escape.
The survivors are then taken as disciples by an old mentor to be the new heroes (perhaps because everybody else is either dead or working in the mines of Mount Fearsome).
A few years later, trained in the Paladins Keep which is hidden beyond the Enchanted Forest they must return to save the Kingdom.
The tests of the wannabe heroes.
We have arrived to the easy part.
Now you arrange your exercises among the locations. If you are doing this with children, be aware of what they can or can’t do.
In any case this is what I did. (Of course this is just an example, adapt it to your location and fitness level).
1. Salute the Heroes and Heroines of ancient times. I stretched as I entered the park. This was a cake to do of course, especially because I had done Pilates the same day.
2. Jog to the village. While we were looking for mushrooms we some strange loud sounds from our home and we decide to run to investigate. Again, fresh as a rose, this part was a piece of cake.
3. Running from the orks! The orks are plundering the village and have taken all survivors prisoners. We’re too young to defeat an ork, much less an army so we have to run away to fight another day through the log bridge (an installation in the playground that is usable by grown-ups). This part did not go as planned, because the village (remember, that was the playground) was full up with kids. (I had to choose a school holiday to try this, silly me). But fear not, I just decided they log bridge had fallen down so I had to run away using an alternative route. (In any public space you’ll need to be flexible).
4. Jog through the wilds, and then race through the Enchanted Forest until you arrive to the Paladins’ Keep. Most of this part went uphill, so I started to feel some fatigue here.
5. Do your paladin training. In my case, that meant push-ups and that sort of thing. I had to train hard because…
6. Run to defend Castle Leonthendrail. The capital of the Kingdom has resisted for years, but not much longer. So we have to run fast to save it. This went average, as it was mostly downhill.
7. Jog to the Lake of the Lady. Here, after jumping in place searching for her, she will deliver us Excalibur.
8. Finally race up to Mount Fearsome to defeat the dragon. To be honest, I must confess that Kingdom was almost lost at this point. I had given myself a time limit to reach the top of Mount Fearsome and I made it by just ten seconds, running as fast as I could.
All in all, it was jolly, serious fun, and I can’t imagine how much more it would have been with kids.
An adventure like this is by essence non-competitive and anybody can participate. Just run shorter distances and allow the younger or less fit to do less push-ups or whatever.
I did a pretty classic fantasy story, but you could do almost anything:
• You are sled dogs in a race (or bringing medicines to some isolated village)
• A spaceship exploring where no kid has gone before
• A family travelling in a sailing ship in the XIX century towards America
• Any famous movie or story you enjoyed
The best part of it all, was as I ran to end the playout in victory.
To me defeating the dragon and saving the Kingdom was a much bigger motivator than beating any record in my log book. I’m doing this again, perhaps once a week or so.
There’s something, though I must confess, not so deep inside there’s a 12 years old boy typing this. So, don’t try to imitate me, run to wherever your passions drive you to.
Miguel de Luis, is a former Catholic seminarian who now works for the Government of Canary Islands, Spain, and loves to write YA Fiction, often in Spanish and in English, when he’s wild enough to try that too.
Longing for some MizFit on your Thursday? Check me out over here.
(the post may not be live till late Thursday morning—but it’s so worth yer rhymin’time)