Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Running: Bonding With Your Teen Without Killing Yourself

I run. A lot. I love it. My husband thinks I’m nuts (but loves me anyway). My daughter thought I was nuts, too, until about two years ago when the bug bit her.  That’s when the REAL running started.

My daughter is a student at Alabama (that’s the University of Alabama for those that aren’t from around these parts. Those that are are smirking right about now). She started at the University right about the time she decided running was for her, and she moved away from home just when she wanted to start training together. So, she and I embarked on a program of long distance buddy training.

I’ll pause here to give you a little insight into our respective characters. My daughter and I (and my mother, for that matter), are not the “when God made you he broke the mold” types.  We are exactly alike in almost every way. When my husband met first my daughter and then my mother, I expect all he could think was “Oh, no, there are three of them…..” The reason this is important is because I am fiercely competitive. So is my daughter. The problem is that she is 19 (almost twenty) and I’m 42. Which means that my knees, ankles and hip joints are also 42 (although there are days they feel MUCH older). My daughter having a younger body does give her an edge, but don’t tell her I said that.

Being just alike, though, also provides me with a unique source of inspiration.  When she was home for the summer, we ran side by side on treadmills at the gym. I would make note of her speed, then crank my treadmill up one notch faster. She would make note of my distance, and decide to run a tenth of a mile farther. If I ever want to skip a day, all it takes is a text from her: “Ran outside this morning. It was 95 degrees. I rock.” There is NO WAY I would miss a run after a text like that.

Back to my point. I ran my first half marathon on my own, after which I planned to stop the distance running because I had run that race just to prove that I could. But then she wanted to try one, so I agreed to keep going. She trained with me, her in Tuscaloosa, and me at my home. We started with a schedule that we each uploaded to our calendars, sports watches to track our runs, and texts and phone calls to keep each other updated on progress.

We ran our first half marathon together last January, after training through Christmas together while visiting relatives (who also thought we were nuts). We ran another in March and have a third scheduled for November.   There is no better way to spend time with your child than a couple of hours of running; no television, no phone calls, no Internet. We have an agreement that we always run together. When my daughter pulled a muscle, I slowed down to her pace until she could work it out. When my old(er) joints start giving me fits, she has mercy on me and lets me take a breather.  We start together and we finish together.

The only problem is that she is just like me. She conquered the half. Now she wants to run a full marathon, mainly to prove to herself that she can. And because we always run together, guess what that means?  She got online and found a marathon in Texas on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The conversation went something like this: “Mom, they have two days of running.” “I’m not running two marathons back to back.” “No, we would run a half one day and then a full one day.” “Why would we want to run them both? That’s crazy.” “Because you get half a medal for each run. You only get the full set if you run on both days.” Pause…. “Okay, I’ll sign us up.”

And just like that, I was on board for a two day, 39.3 run that will probably leave me unable to walk without wincing for at least a week.

But I’ll get the whole medal. And my daughter won’t get bragging rights over me.  Did I say this was about bonding with your teen WITHOUT killing yourself? I did, didn’t I? Hmm. Well, I guess I’ll have to let you know on January 2 whether I survive.

1 comment:

  1. Lin, you are a total inspiration! You are so fortunate to be able to share this bond with your daughter, enjoy every minute of it! I will be cheering for you for these events all the way from Maine! :)