Last year when I ran my very first marathon the “running bug” spread a little bit over to my son (8 years old back then) and we ran a couple of 5K races together. Since then he showed interest in running off and on, but I think the running bug really came back when I completed my triple marathon challenge just a few weeks ago. We did some running together on weekends and he asked me questions about races and that stuff and somehow we talked about doing a 10K race together. A local race event organizer does races where they hand out medals even to 5K and 10K runners which is not always the case depending on who is organizing a race. I figured if we do a race with this one event organizer that it might be a great experience for my son and we decided to go for it.
We did a few training runs already – averaging about 3.5 miles per run. I definitely see an improvement in his running, but on a run last week he really impressed me. We went for a run after dinner. It was warm outside with temperatures in the upper 70s and I expected him to fade a bit once we hit a certain spot on our planned course. He took two walking water breaks, but other than that he ran the entire distance of 3.47 miles. What impressed me really was his pace. Usually we would end up with a pace of about 11 minutes and 30 seconds for the average pace, but on that run last week we ended up doing a 10 minutes and 32 seconds pace. I thought that this time is amazing for a youngster of his age and I high-fived him for this great performance. But he impressed me even more during the same run. We live in a very hilly area and we have a really steep hill to run up right at our house. My guess is that this hill is about 75 yards long, but is very steep at the same time. While we were coming from the South, we saw one of our neighbors out running but doing so from the opposite direction. He reached the final hill before us and was already half way up when we got to the bottom of the hill. I challenged my son to give it a try and catch up to our neighbor. He was up for the challenge and so we ran faster and made our way up the hill. For a moment I thought we would not be able to catch up, but my son kept on pushing to go faster and we actually did it – we caught up to the neighbor and even ran past him. We were flying up the hill – at least that’s how it felt that moment. It was totally fun and my son was stoked about it. I high-fived him for his effort and congratulated him for this great effort.
So, the 10K race I have been looking at is towards the end of August and we would have about 8 weeks of time to train. However, the next 2 training runs since that one special day have been less than stellar and so I became a bit concerned about our goal and the available time for training. So, I found another race about 2 weeks later and with those additional two weeks I feel more comfortable for him to work his way up to the 6 mile distance. It is actually a lot of fun seeing his progress developing and I am really enjoying the fact that he has fun and wants to do this because he wants to do it and not because of some artificial pressure I am putting on him. Maybe running is his calling and he continues to run and enjoys it. Running can be beneficial by itself, but it can also help him to achieve other goals. He likes to play football and Lacrosse and the additional endurance is definitely something he will benefit from. Running could also get him into college with a scholarship if he can take it to the appropriate level. I see endless opportunities, but I am only giving him hints of advice because I want him to make the decision of what he wants to do. Sure, there will be guidance and advice, but I do not want to force him into running. Running has given me a lot of personal pleasure and I think it has changed me. I have never been afraid of doing things, but completing a marathon or running 3 marathons in 2 weeks as I have, filled me with even more confidence to be able to do things I thought might be impossible.
When I was a kid I was never a good long distance runner. I was super-fast on short distances like the 100 Meters, but anything beyond 200 Meters was simply not my thing. Like many sprinters I was good at the short distance and long jump, but that was it. Then I played soccer for many years and while you run a lot in soccer, it is more the sprint or short distance running at a time. Yes, you run constantly, but it is a stop and go type of sport if you look at it from a running perspective. So, I am quite interested to see how the longer distance running will work out for my son. I’ll keep you posted about the progress in training.