How I Became a Lifelong Runner
I discovered my love of running in fourth grade when my dad decided he needed to get in shape. A couple days a week, he woke me up before he went to work so we could jog a two-mile loop. We ran side-by-side, huffing, puffing and complaining every step of the way.
What I remember most about our time running together is that I never shut up. On a typical run, my dad was subjected to such far reaching and consequential topics as my school, my friends, my extracurriculars or my weekend plans.
Why I Started Running with My Son
More recently, running has evolved into my “me time”. An evening run is my chance to relax, reflect and unravel pent-up anxiety. Consequently, when I was pregnant with my baby boy I stubbornly refused a jogging stroller. I figured my husband could handle him for thirty minutes while I snuck in a run. Running is the one thing I do for myself and I was not about to give that up.
Then I met my son. My perfect, beautiful, smiley, sturdy, curious, ballsy, adorable son. Before long I went online and found a nearby stranger willing to sell me an ancient NordicTrack jogger for $25.
Just as I anticipated, running with my son lacks the serenity and freedom of running alone. With my little bug in tow I can’t run too far or too fast. Together we are confined to running on neatly paved sidewalks during daylight hours. Those minor restrictions are easily overshadowed by the advantages of bringing him along.
1. First and foremost, he gets some fresh air. I can actually see his body relax and his mood improve the second the garage door opens. Getting him outside every day might be the single best thing I can do for his physical and emotional health.
2. I want him with me ALL. THE. TIME. When I get home from work I don’t want to forego one second of time with that little munchkin. I know how crazy this sounds but I even miss him when he’s napping one room over.
3. He will learn that outdoor physical activity is an everyday kind of thing. The boost that accompanies sweating in the fresh air has a lingering effect that makes every other part of my day better. I am hoping if I teach by example he will come to understand how crucial it is to get outside and move.
4. He loves to watch the world go by. As we coast along he is often on high alert checking out the people, the sounds and the scenery we pass. He also gets a kick out of watching our dog cruisin’ along next to the stroller and continuously wagging his tail.
5. He’s super entertaining. The charge he gets from surveying his surroundings is nothing compared to how much I relish watching him take it all in. I can’t get enough of those little waiving arms and kicking feet or the endless stories he tells me in coos and blahs.
6. It’s a great way to get him down for a nap. If I play my cards right I can time it out so we run just before naptime and the movement lulls him right to sleep. The rub lies in maneuvering him out of the stroller and into the crib when we get home. It’s like a particularly high-stakes game of Operation where the buzzer is a crying infant.
7. My husband gets a break. Dads need me time too. It’s always nice to give my husband some time to himself to do things he likes to do – like cooking for me, cleaning the house or mowing the lawn.
8. You should see my triceps. Turns out it’s hard work pushing a stroller around. Every time I push him up a particularly steep hill I remind myself that I am one step closer to Michelle Obama arms.
Getting a little ahead of myself
As he gets older, I plan to support any activities my son chooses to participate in. I truly don’t care whether he’s athletic, academic, musical, graceful, dramatic or all (or none!) of the above. What matters most to me is that he’s happy, fulfilled, challenged and healthy.
But as I jog through our neighborhood pushing my bundled-up baby boy in his stroller, I can’t help imagining that someday he may want to run alongside me. If I’m really lucky, I’ll be grinning from ear to ear, listening to him babble on about such far-reaching and consequential topics as his school, his friends, his extracurriculars or his weekend plans . . .
Photo Credit: Megan