Running Together: More Than Just Exercise


As an avid runner, I was thrilled. I love seeing the look of pure joy on her face, as she pushes hard to the finish line.

My young teenage daughter has perfected the eye roll, and the totally annoyed “Mommmmm,” constantly reminding me that I say and do the wrong things. It’s difficult to get much information about the important things in her life. My connection with her is changing, so, then, must our ways to connect.

Initially, her running was hers and mine was mine. Even though she could benefit from my years of coaching experience, she kept our shared interest separate. I waited patiently, knowing our paths would eventually cross.

I took a risk and asked, “Any interest in a run on Saturday morning?” She was surprisingly positive, and we planned for a six-miler, her longest run ever. I thought that these runs, with endorphins flowing and no mobile devices, would allow her to really open up to me, and we would connect like we used to.

It was so great to have her in my world, enjoying an invigorating, healthy start to the day. I made a few lame attempts to discuss friends, boys and hopes for the future. She shut me down quickly. Hmmm … I decided to just enjoy the run and the hour by her side. While we didn’t have any profound conversations, we laughed at a guy singing while he ran, pushed the pace for a mile, shared the accomplishment of her longest run, and strategized how to deal with her reoccurring blisters. Maybe this was a connection.

We ran again the next weekend, experiencing a brisk wind off the lake as we turned south. We were pelted with rain drops, viewed the city through the clouds and enjoyed a few miles on the golf course. I really don’t remember what we discussed, just the warm feeling of sharing an awesome run, laughing hysterically and being outside on a beautiful morning with my daughter.

I think we will find more and more common ground after building a solid foundation with these runs. Hopefully, when she does have something to discuss—boys, friends, or pressures of school—the safe environment we have created will provide an opportunity for her to open up. In the meantime we are sharing a passion, staying fit, hanging out together and creating memories.

Connecting? Yes, most definitely.

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