I hate running! was the answer my husband usually gave when I asked him to join me on runs.
I would come up with different ways to make my plans attractive: We could do a destination race, make it a run-cation! Your mom could watch the kids! But the answer was always some version of no way.
A reluctant track runner in high school, he had settled into an easy routine of going to the gym 2 or 3 times per week and using machines like the elliptical and bike. But in March when all fitness centers were closing their doors, he and I started to take long walks together.
I cajoled him into adding a few seconds of running, then a few minutes, and before I knew it I was stepping in as a sort of amateur running consultant, chattering on about things like easy-effort running, taking walk and stretch breaks, dynamic warm-ups, and being wary of the three ‘toos’: too much, too fast, too soon.
Pretty soon our 15-year old daughter was joining us. Her first foray into track had come to a screeching halt after three weeks, and she was hoping to build fitness for an unlikely fall field-hockey season. Our daughter was faster but didn’t mind turning around and running back to us, past us, and then back ahead of us again, repeating this ‘lapping the old folks’ routine and ultimately logging more miles yet ‘with’ us the whole time.
I am over-the-moon thrilled about this whole arrangement, but I try to play it cool. Like dating, I don’t want to seem too eager!
“Want to go for a run tomorrow?” my daughter would ask at dinner, and I would shrug and say “Sure, why not?” while doing a secret yes motion under the table. We even did a virtual 5k in place of our school’s usual in-person fundraiser. (They both beat me with an amazing last half-mile kick.)
Fast forward to October, and we’re still running. Our routines have changed: my husband has embraced solo outings, but my daughter is my number-one BRF. She is so much like me, loving the sense of accomplishment she gets from sticking to her 5-day-a-week running schedule, getting up early for runs, seeing our long-runs grow slowly longer each Saturday, berating herself if she pushes snooze too many times and misses her running window.
During our runs we sometimes chat about big and small things, from the electoral college to bikers who blare music from speakers as they whiz by on the running trail. More often than not, I’m running behind her, watching her smooth, confident gait. I feel a surging sense of pride and contentment, and secretly plan the running life that’s ahead of us.
We could do a destination race, make it a run-cation! Grandma could come with us!
Read more Seven Months into the Pandemic essays.