I have started to jog in the morning. Don’t worry I am not training for the NYC Marathon or a 10k (although at this point I think I would do pretty well in a 10k) for work, a non-profit or some sense of civic duty/ self realization/improvement/preservation. I am running because I get to galvanize myself around an activity I can control forcing myself to structure my night and early mornings. It also helps my pants remain at a size my ego can tolerate. My two running partners keep me honest and help push feelings of being a complete and utter slob out of my head as well:
Late night text: ” We running tomorrow? 7:30am?”
Early morning text: “I am on the bus headed to you. Be there in 15 min. We’re doing 3 miles this morning”.
So after about 4 or 5 weeks, running has become somewhat of a habit. I feel bad if I find two consecutive days having passed by and I haven’t pounded the pavement or a treadmill. Like most other activities I have come to incorporate into my life I decided to share it with my children.
I felt good about being able to share an activity with my little ones. I proceeded to stretch and follow my running rituals.
Stretch hamstrings…..Stretch quads….stretch calves….lunge to the left….lunge to the right….breathe….breathe…
*check Spotify run playlist*
Turn on Nike Run Club…3…2…1
As I begin to break into a stride I turn to see that my daughter is far behind, so I slow down….then I walk. We both walk. I try starting again, to make up some time…then look behind me again. Right, better just walk this morning. The normal morning jog has now become a 90min brisk walk. Once we finished I looked over to see my daughter, oblivious to her shattering of my morning routines, smile and continue to listen to her iPhone.
My usually pace is about a 10 minute mile allowing me to complete four miles in 45mins give or take. This particular Saturday my daughter wasn’t going to run nor could she have kept my pace and I couldn’t leave her behind so….I slowed down and eventually completed a morning stroll dwindling my pace down to a 20min mile.
I completed my normal running loop at a WAAAY slower pace than I had planned. That’s when I had the epiphany; parenting (i.e. life) is much like a race.
You can run by yourself and win the race quickly or you can run with someone else. Pushing yourself becomes more of a chore when you run alone but transforms into a habit when you are running from behind. Having my daughter join me revealed that initially children may slow down your pace. Good parenting I think is recognizing you may be moving at a different pace in your life than is probably healthy for your child and adjusting. If not then you run the risk of leaving them far behind you or worse yet causing them to hurt themselves trying to keep up.
The key is balance; gaining your stride and pushing them to increase theirs with every step. It’s hard. You want to break out in a full sprint, but can’t and slowing all the way down will just hurt you both. You have to pace yourself and the person next to you for as long as you can muster the strength. The inevitable falls that will happen aren’t as important as the times you get up. The race is always a marathon and no one moment is larger than the collective process/experience you both will have together reaching the finish line.
So keep running. Slow and steady. And Win.
PS. In life in general when you are in your own lane at your own speed chugging along, try not to commit the cardinal sin of glancing at the body along side you. Once you do that, instead of focusing on your own stride, breathing and form you are comparing yourself with someone else. Who might have different training, body type, motivation, genetic makeup, sponsors etc. This shift in concentration allows the inevitable fall or stumble every runner faces to come much faster, even so you never stop…keep going because you want to finish the race, hopefully under your own devices. Running with a good partner (i.e. wife/husband) allows you to run further, while running sponsors (i.e. rich parents) gives you a leg up in terms of equipment and training. It is also bad practice when your little one is mimicking your strides step for step to lose momentum or personal drive. They are behind you pushing to reach their own goals. And maybe even surpass your own.