I had a completely different topic in mind for today’s post, but when I started reading all my newsfeeds this morning an article caught my eye. (Click here to read the article.)
This article is a blog post in the New York Times and it deals with the question of whether or not young kids can or should run long distances. Does running in young children cause injuries?
I decided to write about kids running because I have 2 young daughters, ages 6 and 5, and both at times have asked to run with me. My older daughter, Samantha, actually started begging to run with me a few months into my marathon training. Every weekend she would ask if she could go with me or if she could run a race with me. I routinely said no. I thought she was way too young. I did one summer weekend take her to the track on my off day and watched her run around the track. She ran several laps and barely seemed tired. I was starting to think that maybe she could run a long distance.
Soon summer turned to fall and I heard about a 5K race in our hometown. The start was literally 4 blocks from our house so I asked Samantha if she’d like to run with me. She screamed, “YES!” and the decision was made.
The morning of the 5K we set off from home to run the race together. I had my cell phone with me and had my husband on call for when we had to drop out. I didn’t think we’d finish the whole race.
As the race started, Samantha wanted to charge up the opening hill, but I insisted she not start too fast. I wanted her to get as far as she could before we had to stop. We happily ran along together down the streets of our town. We passed several spectators who all cheered heartily for the young girl running by. Samantha hid her head as people cheered, but I could tell she liked it too.
Every once in a while Samantha would stop for a brief walk and take a sip of the water I was carrying for her. Then she would start up again at a pretty decent pace. As we passed the halfway point, I was thinking we might make it another half mile or so. Then at 2 miles I noticed that Samantha didn’t seem very tired. Maybe she was going to be able to finish the race. She was even running fast enough that we were passing a few adults. How was that happening?
Soon we were down to about a quarter mile left and Samantha was still going. She kept slapping her legs to tell them to “wake up”, but she was still moving. Now I wanted her to finish. I wanted her to know what it was like to cross a finish line. As we turned up the last hill before the finish, I told her to go slowly and that as we were going down the other side she could run fast to the finish. We crested the hill and she asked to go fast. I held her back for a little more and then told her to run as fast as she could to the finish line. She was off!
I was running as fast as I could behind her and I truly could not catch her. Spectators starting cheering like crazy for this little kid who was out sprinting her mom to the finish. I have no idea if Samantha heard what they were saying, but they were definitely amazed that a 6 year old was finishing a 5K race.
As I crossed the finish line I looked up at the clock and saw that Samantha had finished her first 5K in under 11 minute miles. I was astounded! Here I was thinking that she’d never finish the whole race and she’d run much faster than I’d imagined.
To cap her first ever 5K Samantha turned around as I approached her and in a proud and defiant tone said, “I beat you!”
Out of all my training runs, races and even my marathon event, my favorite run was that little 5K race with Samantha. I’ve never been prouder of either of us. So to all those who think kids can’t run or can’t climb a mountain or can’t start a profitable lemonade stand, I think you’re wrong! Kids can do way more than we give them credit for. They just have to want to do it for themselves, not because we want them to want to do it. They have to be allowed to try and sometimes fail. If we (kids and adults) never fail then we will definitely never succeed.
Take a lesson from Samantha- believe in yourself and don’t listen to others. You are capable of finishing your own 5K race, whatever it may be.