Is It A Good Idea To Run With Your Family?

2 adults, 3 kids in the middle, one child has his head in his hands everyone else is smiling.

What on earth possesses someone, anyone, to get up before 7am on a Sunday, squeeze themselves into lycra and drag the whole family out to take part in a 5K charity run? Muggins here, that’s who and I wasn’t alone.

My local running group, the Runnyhoneys, organises a 5K run every year to help raise money and awareness for the Stroke Association during their ‘Make May Purple’ campaign. It’s held at the beauty that is Petersfield Heath, and is just a really lovely family friendly, welcoming and well organised event. I ran it last year for the first time and managed to convince my then 7 year old daughter to take part with me and it was just one of those really lovely memorable mother daughter experiences that you hold with you forever.

This year I thought why not get the whole family involved, because if it felt that amazing when the two of us did it, imagine how incredible it would feel with all four of us!

So yep, it’s 7am Sunday morning, we’re up, we’re eating fruit (because we need to fuel with something but I know full damn well if I give them cereal or toast they’ll be moaning they’ve got a stitch one minute in!) and we’re ready for this. Team Stafferton mean business and we’re gonna run this together, as a family, and create those memories.

Only some of us had other ideas…

Cue the competitive streak!

Let me tell you something about my son. He’ll be ten at the end of next month, thinks he’s a teenager, acts like a toddler, and if he had his way he’d spend 24 hours on his Xbox eating salty popcorn in his onesie. Basically he’s a lazy little so and so, if you let him get away with it. He plays football for one of the local teams and aside from his lazyboneitus he is actually a very physical child; tall, gangly, with legs up to his armpits, ideal runners build if you like. I’ve dragged him out running with me in the past and after a bit of initial huffing and puffing about life in general, he’s really bloody good at it.

He woke up yesterday morning and triumphantly declared – “I’m going to win the junior race today” – no messing, very matter of fact, jobs-a-good ‘un. Now I love a bit of PMA (positive mental attitude) I really do, and I’m all for the competition if that’s what you want, but the nurturing cotton wool mother in me also doesn’t want to deal with the disappointment, so I played it down and did the whole “as long as you try your best” routine.

Lined up at the start line, my son and husband inched themselves towards the front, whilst myself and my daughter hung towards the back. We were there for the taking part and just like the previous year we wanted to do this together in our contrasting unicorn leggings with smiles plastered across our chops. My husband doesn’t run. He has in the past, but claims to not particularly like it and uses the age old excuse of dodgy knees. He was also here for the taking part and to do it together as a family, but with the boy’s eyes clearly on the prize he felt he should at least attempt to keep up with him.

The start horn blared and we were off, the boys haring off with the front runners and us girls pacing ourselves, taking it steady, knowing what was coming. Because well, we had run it before, the boys didn’t know the course, they had no idea how long 5K actually was, how much fuel you need to leave in the tank for that last stretch, we were the experts… right?

Don’t you just hate it when people rock up to a run having done no training and then they go and smash it!?!

The course is pretty much three laps around the lake, with a bit of a diversion off into heathland after lap one, so there are points when you can see the people who are way, way out in front, which is exactly what happened when us girls hit the heathland. We’re tootling along quite nicely, I’m super proud of my daughter who hasn’t stopped to walk once, hasn’t even hinted at a moan (which is quite frankly a miracle), we’ve had a quick shoelace tie up and grabbed a jelly baby from one of the marshals, we’re feeling good. Then who should come rocketing down the other side, but my son. His legs going hell for leather, I’m actually genuinely surprised there weren’t sparks coming out of his feet, and about 1K in front of us. And that’s when my competitive streak kicked in, because you see I’m not sure I have it in myself, I actually couldn’t give two flying figs about whether I win or not (although maybe that’s because I don’t think I ever will…who knows!?!), but when I saw my son flying down that course and realised that wow he could actually win this thing, I got all shouty as if to announce to the world “yeah that’s my son, look at him isn’t he great!”. Why do mums do that? Like they’ve got to prove their kids are better than other people’s kids, I mean as if I actually had anything to do with him being so good at running, I hadn’t even thought he had it in him first thing that morning, yet here I was claiming his glory!

So you can probably guess the result… yep just as he planned, he came first junior with a rather impressive time of 24 minutes and 6 seconds, giving him the equally impressive position of 13th overall out of 93 participants!

Obviously I was so super proud, I mean that’s really good, no scrap that it’s bloody amazing, but I’ll be honest a part of me was a bit miffed. Because there’s me, the runner in the house, the one who’s been slogging it out for the best part of two years and I couldn’t even begin to dream about a result like that. In fact to up my miff levels further, I came last out of the four of us, with the husband taking a time of 28 minutes and 2 seconds, and my daughter sprinting me at the finish to get a time of 33 minutes and 9 seconds (OK so I totally slowed down so she could beat me, I mean what kind of cruel mother would dream of stealing that from her daughter!?!) and my time was mere milliseconds behind her, but that’s so not the point, I’d come last out of the four of us and it proper miffed me.

So would I recommend running with the family?

Of course I would!

Once I’d got over my sulk about losing, and smacked myself round the chops for even daring to critique how bad I looked in the photos (because come on, who looks good in running photos!), I reminded myself of the reasons I suggested we did this in the first place.

    • We ran it together… OK so not how I initially envisaged it, but we all took part.
    • We all completed it… OK so I was last (yeah little bit miffed still) but each one of us got a personal best in some shape or form.
    • We all came home with a medal… And that so matters!
    • We donated money to a good cause, doing a run for charity… and that’s an important lesson to teach the kids.

And if I really want to get all smug about it, which I’m going to because I like a bit of smug every now and again, I was the only one who didn’t ache the next day. Ha shove that in your pipe and smoke it!

And I know it probably seems as if this whole post has focused very much on my son, and I hold my hands up it has, but I seriously don’t want that to detract from just how amazing my daughter was. So indulge me a moment, while I big her up too!

She’s 8; she’s a proper girly girl, likes crafts, unicorns, singing and loves her mum to bits. I mean I don’t want to be big headed about this but she proper idolises me, to the point that apparently she’s never going to leave home and loves me, I quote “more than all the girls in the world, all the ladies in the world, all the animals in the world, all the aliens and even all the foetuses in the world”, yep she loves me. She’s not particularly into sports, she’ll do them, but she doesn’t love them, and would always choose indoor gym PE at school, rather than outdoor cricket for example, as she doesn’t like the contact or the thought of being hurt. So when she runs, she wants to do it with me. But there is also a competitive side lurking in her that I only ever notice when taking part in events such as this, and it’s another great reason to encourage your kids to run.

She’s not the most confident of kids, she likes to fully suss someone or something out before opening herself up, but when she does she is 100% committed. What impressed me the most when she ran this yesterday was how much she upped her game with an audience. We’ve practised this run together a few times now and it’s often resulted in her moaning about her legs aching, or feeling sick, or having a stitch, or it’s too far… you get the idea. But yesterday, with people watching, she didn’t stop, she didn’t moan, she smiled the whole way round, and she beat her time from last year. And I really, really couldn’t have asked for anything more from her. In fact to really big her up, she came 6th junior and 3rd girl – that’s pretty blimmin’ impressive!

So yes, there are so many benefits to getting the family out running, you just have to swallow your pride, accept that they might just beat you, and remember that it was your idea to do it in the first place πŸ˜‰

I’m going to end with a saying that I’m sure all of us parents have said to our kids at some point or another and it’s one I could do with taking heed of myself:

It’s not about the winning, it’s the taking part that counts.


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