It was a family moment I will never forget. Our family formed a line with our arms encircling each other, and with our individual medals hanging around our neck we smiled broadly into the camera. Click.
When my youngest child was three I started jogging. Up until this point I had never enjoyed running. Although I had spent a good portion of my high school involved in sports, I had hated the running that training for sports fitness mandated. But at this stage of my life I needed an inexpensive form of exercise that could be done within a short time span. I also needed the break from the household, and as I have always love the outdoors, I thought running would be a positive and easy addition to my life.
So, I started running. And honestly, at the beginning I hated almost every step of it. I’d wait until my hubby came home from work, and while supper was cooking in the oven, I’d don my running shoes and hit the road.
And I decided to bring along company. My seven-year-old daughter was alway up for an adventure, so I strapped on her safety helmut and she peddled her little pink bike beside me as I plodded along. As we neared the end of the run I turned to my little girl for some support. Between gasps I told her that I needed her to talk to me. Why? Because at this point of the run I was beginning to hurt, and I needed her to talk to me to take my mind off the pain and tiredness my body felt.
I will never forgot her response. In her 7-year-old wisdom she queried: “Mom, if it hurts to keep running, why don’t you just stop?”
I laughed so hard I did have to stop. How could I explain to my blonde hair blue-eyed child concepts like perseverance, determination, delayed gratification? How can you put into words the joy and reward that follows pain, endurance and training? How do explain the value of physical health and fitness?
Sometimes when words don’t work, you just model and live it, and hope that in the future they understand.
In the years that followed I did turn into a runner. In honesty, I did more jogging than running and now a-days, I call my self a plodder. I’m not fast, but I treasure the time I spend in the outdoors. I love the rhythm of my body falling into the running stride, and I love how it clears my mind. Even after all these years I still don’t think of it as easy; my body still hurts and although I know and experience the rewards of running at times it still hurts.
I couldn’t explain to my 7-year-old daughter why I needed to keep running even though it was uncomfortable in that moment. But in the years that followed she and her siblings saw me lace up my runners and head out the door. And they saw me come home from a run, drenched in sweat and smiling widely. I would often declare as I stepped through the door “I’m alive!”. My family witness how physical activity enriched my life. Not only did I talk about it, I lived it.
My husband and I have always tired to teach and live out our values. We really believe that as parents we must teach our children. But we also realized that some of life’s lessons are not taught; but rather caught. It is true: Monkey see, monkey do!
It’s been 15 years since that first run with my daughter. And this spring we participated in our first family run! It was this very daughter who inspired, encouraged and organized our family of six to sign up for the running event. Three of us ran the 10 km circuit, and three ran the half-marathon. And each of us received a medal for placing either first, second or third in our age category!! That was rewarding, but the most gratifying part of the event was that we did it together. What started out as a solo run with my daughter peddling alongside me, cumulated into a weekend event of family fun – commemorated with individual medals!
I am filled with the satisfaction of knowing that my family has experienced some of the joy that I have had with running. Somewhere along the way – I was able to pass onto my kids a value that they embraced. What started out as a weekly routine toward fitness was slowly passed on to my family. And now we share a family value and experience that we will never forget. In fact, there is already talk of upping the ante; full marathon before this mom turns 50?