I love the 4th of July 5k. It’s warm. We get to spend time with friends. And now, I get to do it with my kids. We actually got to run it this year with my friend Erin and her fam. And the heart the kids put into this 5K made me SO PROUD. They just kept going, even though they wanted to stop at the end. William kept talking about his heart or brain or legs were telling him to stop and the other was telling him to keep going. I feel ya William, my brain and heart and legs are constantly in this argument. Their time: 31:54. That’s a 10:17 pace on a hot day for a race they haven’t even trained for. Amazing. I kept telling Mark that being able to experience this with them and see them dig in when things got tough was just the most unforgettable experience. He must have felt inspired because he said he was going to do it with us next year. BOOM. My work here is done.
When you are passionate about something, I think you always hope that your next generation will take a hold of that same passion. And running is the passion my kids see from me day in and day out.
Mark has brought the kids to all my races. They cheer. They make t-shirts with my number. Aren’t they the best? And I think watching and cheering all these years has definitely made them curious and wanting to do the same. Violet was 6 when she first asked if she could do a race. I signed them up for the next 1-mile fun run I could find but V wanted to do the same race that mom and grandma were running: the annual Turkey Trot. I told her the next year she could. And wow, that year really came up fast! I was nervous, it took me multiple weeks of consistent running to build to 3 miles when I started running. She plays sports and runs around a lot, would she be able to finish 3 miles? I figured we could walk when we needed and just take that chance. It will be fine, Randi.
And it was. She had some stomach pain; whether it was from all the milk with her cereal before or anxiety, one will never know. But we finished just fine, we walked when we needed to, and I think we even finished at a decent time (there’s that competitive runner rearing its head again, don’t you ever quiet down?). My heart swelled. I loved being able to experience this with her. 1 mile. 5 miles. Walking and running. It doesn’t even matter the race distance or if you walk a ton. Getting to share it with her and have her finish made my mama runner heart happy.
So naturally, Grey wanted a piece of the action. He started asking when he could run races too. He was 5. So that summer we all did the 1-mile race for the 4th. V considered herself a professional by then, being a 5K runner at all. She was ready to win it (she didn’t but the effort was solid). And Grey followed suit. And so this epic photo of my children on the start line was made.
V still asks me to this day if I will win the race, and while I don’t want to extinguish her fire for winning, I explain these races are for me. To see what I can accomplish for myself. I mean, if I thought I had a chance though? Heck yeah, I would go for that 1st place.
Grey went on to run his 5K that fall for the Turkey Trot and I would say the rest is history. Gone are the days of the 1-miler. And now we sign up for the usual holiday 5k’s and running has become fun for them this way. They really look forward to these races.
And so the point of this story is that I think the way to get your kids into running is to encourage them if they show interest, but not to push. Do it with them! Watching me over the years has definitely helped ignite that passion, experiencing it with me made it sink in. Make it fun! Try and get other families to join you if you can, friends always help. Start off with those 1-mile fun runs, the ones on holidays always have lots of kids and families. Work your way up to a 5k. And perhaps neither of mine will be runners and that’s okay. But I can see our 5k’s becoming a family tradition, something we can always fall back on even when they ditch us when they are 18.