Friday, July 15, 2011

Running with My Daughter

My 4 year-old, Rachel, came up to me a few days ago and asked if she could come running with me up to the windmills.  I replied with, "Well, that's a long ways, so perhaps we should just drive up there if you want to see the windmills." 
"No, mom," says Rachel, "I want to run there like you did."

I later convinced her that an 8-mile round trip might be a bit too much for her right now and we should do a smaller run.  "Okay, mom, at 3 o'clock tomorrow, we will go for a run.  Don't forget!"
How could I forget?  My daughter wants to run with me.  That's awesome!  Between the time she asked me to go running and when we actually went running, it was all she could talk about. 
"I want you to train me to run races, mom, like you do."
"Do you think you'll be able to keep up with me, mom?"
"Can I run with you in your next race?"
"I'm going to be a runner!"

Rachel running to first base
at her t-ball game.
Needless to say, she was excited.  I was too.  Over the many miles, I've often day-dreamed about one day running alongside my kids.   Way before the twins were even a twinkle in my eye, and I just had my two girls (Rachel and Dani), my mind would bring up images of running with my teenage daughters, helping them train for their next track meet.  But I thought it wouldn't be until then that I would be able to get them interested in running.  For the most part, people don't get into running until adulthood.  But at the tender age of 4, my daughter wanted to run.  To be completely honest, she runs all the time.  If you ask her to walk from point A to point B, she actually has to concentrate because her natural mode of travel is always to run.  But like most little kids, they run for a short burst and then stop.  Rachel wanted to run for long distances, so that is what I would help her do. 

The time was upon us.  It was time to run.  She got her tennis shoes on and watched me as I laced up my running shoes.  I asked her if she wanted me to put her hair in a ponytail.  She declined.  She hates getting her hair done, so this was no surprise.  We bid Arik, Dani, and the boys farewell and headed out the door.  Our neighborhood is a loop.  Going around once is about a half a mile.  I figured we'd try to go around twice for one complete mile; Rachel's first mile. 
I showed her how to warm up and quick like a bunny she was off and I ran after her.  She kept looking over at me to mimic my movements.  She was dead serious and if you know my daughter, that's something.  She insisted on talking the whole way, which I totally knew she would, which meant she got out of breath quite often.  She'd jabber on about how you shouldn't run over rocks or dirt, or how those birds up there better watch out, or how she could feel her legs getting stronger which meant that she was positive she could be up to that 8-mile windmill run by, most likely, tomorrow. 
I told her that if she needed to, we could walk for a bit.  About half way through the first loop, she admitted that she, "might like to walk for a bit."
So we walked for a bit and I showed her how to stop for a minute and do some stretches.  She took a lot of joy is taking off mid-stretch, leaving me in her dust.  "Come on, slow poke!", she'd say.
It continued on like this as we ran/walked through her first mile.  I tried teaching her about pacing, but that was more than a little confusing for her.  Instead, I'd say, "Just stay with me."
When we had one more corner to go before we got back to the house, I told Rachel we should run without stopping until we got to the house.  She immediately declared, "We should race!"
"On your mark, get set, go!"
She practically giggled through the whole race as she was gasping for breath.  She just couldn't help herself; racing was too much fun.  I kept telling her it would be easier to breathe if she wouldn't talk.  "Okay, mom, I'll stop talking right now."  Ten miliseconds later...."Hey mom, do you think I could beat a hawk in a race?"  Oh, Rachel.

We made it back to the house, completed a few more stretches and then went inside for a big glass of water.  Later that night, Rachel was rubbing her legs.  I asked if they hurt.  "No, mom, I'm just trying to see if my muscles are bigger now."

At bedtime, as I tucked her in, she asked if we could go running again.  "You bet!", I said.
"Cause I want to be a runner, mom, just like you."
I think I left my heart in a puddle right there. 

I now have a new reason to keep doing this; in hopes that I might pass this down to my kids.  Pass down the importance of taking care of your body and of committing yourself to reach goals you once thought impossible.  Without even knowing it, I was making an impression on my daughter and now she's decided to join me and become part of my running journey.  Nothing can be sweeter than that.



cleggclan said...

Awww. How fun! We have added a 1 mile Fun Run to the Charity 5k that we are planning for my friend. As soon as my boys found out, they decided that they needed to start training. Unfortunately, we've all been sick this week. They decided this morning that "training" will begin first thing Monday morning. I cant wait! :)

Jani said...

I could visualize the whole thing -- so I giggled, smiled broadly, sighed, laughed right out loud, and yes, left my heart in a puddle right along with you. What a pair you must make - what an inspiration you are to your children. You go girls!