Sandy Ford is a five-foot, one hundred and five pound mother of four. On weekdays she takes care of her children, and on the weekends she works as a registered nurse in the maternity section of the local hospital. Three years ago Sandy joined the APU Nordic Ski Center Master’s training program. She has gone from someone who had never entered a race in her life to an active participant and competitor who isn’t afraid to point her skis straight downhill, mountain bike single track, or “run” up a 2,500 ft mountain! As her coach, I am continually impressed with her commitment to personal improvement (zero degrees and high winds don’t stop her) and perhaps most of all, her ability to balance four kids, run a household, maintain a career, and still have time to remain active herself!
Below you will find some questions and answers that may provide some insight into how she does it. Maybe they can inspire you to do the same!
Holly: In the past you have said that attending “group” helps you be a better mother, wife, friend, and nurse. How is this so?
Sandy: Prior to joining the group I had never thought much about exercise or the affect it would have on someone like me. I had never skied, mountain biked, ran, lifted weights or had any form of regular organized training. I was caught up in my every day life raising kids, working, and running a household. I have always enjoyed watching my kids at their cross country running and ski races. My daughter convinced me to try it out. I was hooked. I joined the APU group which meets during the week when my kids are in school. I feel healthier and stronger now than I did when I was 25. I never would have believed an hour and a half a day of exercise could make such a difference in my life. Coping with life’s stresses is so much easier after a good work out. I have a lot more energy and am able to stay focused and finish projects that I start.
Holly: Why is running, skiing, biking, and lifting weights important to you as a woman? How do these activities and skills transfer to every-day life?
Sandy: These activities are important to me as a woman because I find them enjoyable. It is a great feeling to be outside running, skiing, and biking. Although I love being a mom and a wife, these activities have given me a greater sense of accomplishment and self worth. I think it has made me a more confident person.
Holly: Tell us something about a recent race experience and what you learned from it. Why race?
Sandy: When I joined the group I never had any intention of racing because I had never raced before. I had no idea what to expect and felt quite fearful initially. One fear I had was not being able to finish a race (also known as “bonking”.) I had heard all the horror stories. My high school daughter encouraged and inspired me. So, I decided to go for it. In the last year I have finished 9 races. I learned that having the wrong wax on your skis and that falling down at the start line is o.k. I finished the races anyway. I absolutely love the feeling I get while racing. I am focused on what I am doing and nothing else. Living in the moment is such a great feeling! You ask, ” Why race?” I ask, “Why not?”
Holly: What is the importance of a training group?
Sandy: For me, a training group is important because of the busy life that I lead. The group meets at a scheduled time every day. I can plan my schedule accordingly. Another good thing about working out with a group is that I have met so many great women who share the same hobbies as I do. I have made some wonderful friends.
Holly: What do your kids think of your training? Does it help you keep up with them?
Sandy: My kids think it’s great that I am active. I run, ski, hike, and mountain bike with them. They will even challenge me to race them. I can keep up with them, although, I think the older ones may go a little easier on me. It feels good to be able to participate in the activities that my kids really enjoy. I think I have a stronger connection with them because of it.
Holly: What is your best advise to working women and/or busy mothers?
Sandy: It is extremely important for women to take time for themselves. It will make them better moms, wives, and co-workers. An hour a day 2-3 days a week may seem like a lot if you work full-time or have kids at home but once you commit to it, you will love it and realize how much more energy you will have. Three years ago, you could never have convinced me that I would be working out regularly and doing community running, mountain running, and nordic ski races. I would have thought it was the craziest thing ever! Wow, here I am doing of all of these things I never would have dreamed of. I strongly encourage all women to get out there! If I can do it, you can too!
Holly: Do you have any goals for the upcoming year that you would be willing to share?
Sandy: I really enjoy racing. I plan on doing a lot of mountain running racing this summer. I will train hard in hopes to place well in my age group. Another goal that I have is to involve more of my friends in outdoor activities and help them to become more active.