Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sharing the Joy of Running with my Kids

I continue to embrace my desire to get back to the basic joy of the act of running.  Running for me has never been about running to lose myself, my thoughts, problems, etc.  Running has always been about finding myself.  Gaining clarity of thought and purpose and direction.  I crave my times of solitude on the trail under a clear blue sky or on the streets at 2am on a moonless night.  It is a gift I give myself.  The pace, distance, or time ceases to matter.  Everything becomes in the moment-to-moment.

William and Juju!

To that end I took 2 of my kids (Ben was a a friend's) out to my favorite local trail, Erwin Park, on Sunday.  Spring-like weather emerged in full bloom after our arctic deep freeze of the last few weeks.  I get so much peace and enjoyment around my activities on the trail I want to make sure my kids get a solid dose of exposure to what it is all about. Thankfully, my kids dig it!

It was a perfect 70 degrees when we got to the park.  Will, who is 7, was so excited to be "running trails" with his dad.  He has told several of his friends at school that I run 100-mile races.  Most of them thought it was a kid exaggerating in "my dad can beat up your dad"  fashion.  I had lunch with him a few weeks ago and showed the boys the 100-mile buckle I was wearing that day and answered a million question form 10 different directions.

My three amazing kids:  William, Benjamin, and Julia.

My daughter is 15 and a full-blown teenager.  She is a great kid and really enjoyed our day on the trail.  I never will force my kids to pursue anything that they do not want to, but I really hope to instill a life-long love of fitness, nutrition, and wellness in all of them.  If they happen to get into running, or specifically trail running, all the better.

Someday he will have a running beard like Dad.

For me I had no intention of doing any running at all while we were out there.  I set a brisk walking pace that required Will to run to catch-up every now and then.  He was so into this today.  Within minutes he has his shirt off in the sunshine like his dad and I help him fashion his shirt into a bandanna.  We amble along at a good pace for a while.  Will asks a steady stream of questions.  Julia is really enjoying connecting with nature and being unplugged from her very digital world of a typical teenager.  I am a happy man at this moment.

The kid is a natural!  So are adults, we have just forgotten the pure joy.

We end up covering 4 miles of the eight mile trail.  Will was a trooper.  Most 7-yr-olds would have been whining, complaining, and dragging after a very short while.  At several points during our jaunt he would move to the front and break into a nice steady run.  He wanted to set pace!  He did it well too!  Great running form.  Solid foot strike, relaxed, steady running form.  He is a natural.  How old do you have to be to enter a 100-miler?

We finish up our trek on the trail with a quick session on the swings where we parked the car.  We are all kids at heart still, no?  Our shoes are muddy, bodies sweaty, and spirits soaring having had this time outside together.  Both kids ask when we can do this again.  I wonder why I have not done more to include them directly in my running exploits.  As we drive out of the park Will hangs his head out the window like a dog and hoots and hollers.  The sun is shining.  Life is beautiful.