During the pandemic, I started a new thing with the girls: running with them. (One of the many “new things” I started – didn’t we all!?) They have seen their dad and me lace up our shoes and head out the door multiple times per week since they were born. And one day, when the world felt upside down, they asked if they could run with me. 

Huh? This is MY TIME to get some exercise, clear my mind, and frankly, get a break from you three adorable ladies. But in an effort to show them the benefits of exercise, help get them out of the house during lockdown, and say yes while they are still asking to do things with me, I agreed. 

running with girls

They forget that I’ve been running with them their entire lives. Here I am with Annie back in 2017. As long as I brought enough snacks, she was game for a run in the stroller.

And guess what? It was way more fun than I thought it would be.

Since we have three girls that are really close in age (we had them all in 37 months), they always want to do everything that their sisters do. And, of course, they (almost) always find everything inequitable with our collective activities. So in order to make this as fun and equal as possible for all of us, I decided to take them each for a 1-mile out and back; drop off one kid, then pick up the next until all 3 of them had their turn.

The first time we did it, Ella was 10, Maeve was 9, and Annie was 7. Even though they all play lots of sports and are really active kids, none of them had ever really run any sort of distance so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go down. And as it usually happens, they surprised me! One of them liked to sit on the park bench a little longer than her sisters at the turnaround point, one of them wanted to do a run/walk combo, and one of them ran the entire way without stopping. 

running with girls

Don’t be fooled: this is from an AMR photo shoot. We don’t always look this happy on runs!

I’m not going to lie, sometimes I got a bit annoyed that they were crashing my solo running time, but mostly I loved every minute of those miles. While we don’t run as often as we used to, I’m hoping we can get into a regular rhythm when school gets out this summer. My girls are getting older and I know that they won’t always want to run with me (although I do have dreams of running races with them when they are older!). For now I’m going to soak up the time we have talking about things going on at school, looking at the cute dogs during our run, deciding what to have for dinner, the latest TikTok video—and create a space where we can talk about bigger and more serious topics as they happen in their lives. 

This past fall, Ella decided to sign up for her middle school cross country team. For a kid who loves to swim but doesn’t love any other sports that involve running or balls, I was so proud that she put herself out there and challenged herself. I jumped in on a few training runs with her team, and it was adorable to see her chatting with her friends while logging miles.

She turned to me at one point and said, “I finally see why you like to run with your friends!” Bingo!

running with girls

Ella (12) running one of her many cross country meets in the Fall of ‘22.

Maeve is going to sign up for cross country this fall, and I have no doubt that Annie will when she starts 6th grade. Are they going to the Olympic trials for track or marathons? Probably not. But I do know that we have (hopefully) instilled a life-long love of running and exercising and the many, many physical and mental benefits that come with it. 

Plus, as they enter the tween/teen years and they start to deal with all of the stuff that comes with that life stage, I hope that they know that I will always be here to run it out with them.