the story of a training run

A couple of months ago, my middle child (who will be 12 in two weeks) said that she wanted to run this year’s Hub Run (a local 5K). Now, she’s walked a 5K twice before but never expressed a desire to run one. So when she said that I made a mental note but didn’t push it. A few days later she brought it up again and I responded by telling her that I’d love to run it with her and if she wanted, we could do some training runs together. She was all in.

We started with the C25K program as a rough guide and a plan of running at least twice a week. The weather has gotten the best of us many weeks but we’ve run at least once a week. We have increased intervals and distance. I have modified the intervals to a range where she seems comfortable. She is doing a great job… in all areas but one: her mental game.

Here’s how our runs go: We start out very cheerfully, chipper even. She is clearly enjoying having some parental one-on-one time and makes the most of the first five minutes or so to talk nearly non-stop. She is able to maintain the cheerful mood for two, sometimes three, run intervals. Then her head spins around three times, smoke comes out of her ears and she starts talking in a completely different tone of voice.

For the rest of the run I hear things like:

  • I HATE running!
  • WHY are you making me DO THIS?
  • I am HORRIBLE at running!
  • Running HURTS! Why do people run anyway?
  • Can we stop now? Isn’t the interval up? I THINK YOU’RE LYING TO ME ABOUT THE TIME LEFT!
  • You are abusing me physically and mentally!

And she isn’t saying these things quietly. No, she is screaming them. These comments are accompanied by flopping of arms and dramatic stomping of feet. Everyone within 30 feet of us can hear her. You should have seen the looks I got the day we chose to run on the bike path. Sigh.

I respond in various ways. I change the subject. I praise her effort. I try to give her some tips to feel more comfortable. I remind her that this wasn’t my idea, it was hers. I tell her not to quit on herself. I suggest different mantras. I even sing.

I am pretty sure she would throw a rock at my head if she had the presence of mind to look for one as we were running.

This happens on every run. Last week I told her that she needed to adjust her attitude before I registered her for the race. I told her that I didn’t care if she ever ran a race but that I did care if she quit on a goal. She said she really wanted to run the race. I registered the two of us.

Yesterday we ran the course (pretty easy to do when you live around the corner from it). I told her this would be her longest run to date and the longest run she would do before the race in two weeks. She seemed excited if a bit nervous. We had a pretty pleasant 10 minute start and then I had 34 minutes of verbal abuse. I asked her if she was going to be like this on race day, with all the other runners around us. Her response? “Probably, mom, probably.”

I’m proud of her, really I am. I know this isn’t easy for her and her stamina and fitness have definitely improved. I think she’s actually ready for faster/longer intervals… if I can only convince her brain of that. With all of that said, this could still be the longest 5K of my life.


9 thoughts on “the story of a training run

  1. When I asked her about running last week she seemed super proud of herself. So, as much as a struggle as it is, working through a challenge has so many benefits. And this goes for you too :)! I think one of the reason my own middle child really enjoyed running was that he got to have a lot of time with me. And it is nice to have that, especially when you are in the middle. Working through that last hard part will happen, because she wants it to. But, man, are you one patient parent!

    1. I think she’s proud too – about an hour or so afterwards. I can put up with the barrage of insults because I do think it will be worth it in the long run.

  2. When is the Hub Run? Because I kind of want to run behind the two of you to hear the barrage of insults. And maybe to pass her rocks. KIDDING.
    Seriously, though, I think it’s amazing that she’s stuck with it even though she’s finding it difficult and just as amazing that you’re so willing to encourage her to do it. You’re both winning in this endeavor.

  3. I’m impressed she’s stuck with the training runs. Most kids would’ve bagged it by now – kudos to you for not letting her. My first 5k with Kay was very similar. She refused to train and then complained the entire race. Thankfully, the course was short and I only had to listen to her for 2.9 miles. I’d have probably strangled her if I’d had to endure another 1/4 mile. It was bad enough that she turned on her sprinter legs and bolted past me at the end, even though I stuck with her the entire race.

  4. Hopefully I’m not reposting this comment, still figuring out WordPress. Anyway, I’m guessing your kiddo will really appreciate the process once she finishes the race (especially if there’s a medal involved). A big high five to you for not letting her quit. Not starting something is one thing, but quitting in the middle is way worse. She’ll thank you for it someday.

    And I loved the line about “presence of mind to find a rock.” Awesomeness.

    Take care!

  5. It is so hard for the kids, and you are such an awesome mom to do this with her! I get the exact same responses from my son (who just turned 9)…he loves to do 5ks with me but complains the whole way. Wants to walk too often. I try to make it fun—I don’t want to turn him off. Sounds like you’re finding the same balance. Can’t wait to read the recap!

  6. Will you please jog with your phone on record, I would love to hear the commentary. Actually, maybe you should do this so that she could hear herself later (once she has calmed down from the run). Maybe she has no idea what she sounds like.

    1. I have threatened to do just this. The race is Sunday and I am planning to run with my phone so I can take her picture. Keeping my fingers crossed for a dramatic change in attitude!

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