Why We Run

By Melissa Face

When my husband and I signed up for a 5k race last winter, the first question our kids asked us was if we were going to win. Our older child, Evan, was especially concerned about how we were going to do in the race.

“Well, do you think you will come in second?” Evan asked. “Or third?”

We explained to him that there were hundreds of people in the race and that many of them had been running a lot longer than we had. We told him that we just wanted to do our best and finish and that it didn’t matter what place we came in because that is not why we run.

“Why do you do it, then, if you don’t want to win?” Evan continued.

My husband and I talked with him about the health benefits of running (for us, it’s more of a jog) and the fact that it’s something that we both enjoy doing together. We also explained that there is a great sense of accomplishment in preparing for and completing a race. We told him that we like saving our race bibs, collecting medals, tracking our finish times and trying to do better each time we run.

“I want to do one!” Evan exclaimed. “I already run some at school in gym, so I’m ready!”

While we knew that Evan wasn’t quite ready for a 3-mile race, we thought he could handle something shorter. So when my alma mater hosted a 5k and kids fun run, we asked Evan if he was still interested.

“Yes! Sign me up,” he said. “I want to be an athlete.”

We registered, paid our fees, and when race morning arrived, the three of us got ready together. Evan’s fun run was first, and after some stretching exercises with the other children, the kids were on their way.

We watched as the children took off down the road and saw that Evan was trailing behind. At first, my heart sunk just a little.

“What if he came in last place?” I wondered. “Would he not want to do it again?”

I hoped that my conversation with him about why I run had stuck with him and that he wouldn’t care how he compared to the others. I hoped that he would just be happy with his own accomplishment like his dad and I are with ours, but I know that a child’s perspective can be very different from an adult’s.

We couldn’t see Evan for a large portion of the race, but we were waiting, cameras ready, for him to cross the finish line. The first thing we noticed was a look of true determination on his face. His cheeks were red, his arms were pumping, and even though his legs were short, his spirit was enormous.

Evan beamed with pride when he was given his medal at the end of his race, and he immediately placed it around his neck. Then he and his grandfather watched and cheered as my husband and I ran our 5k.

After our races, we ate snacks and watched the awards ceremony. None of us received an official award, but we all felt like champions. Evan had successfully completed his first race, and my husband and I had achieved personal records. And what made it even better was that we had shared the experience with our child.

Later that night, I peeked in Evan’s room to see if he had gone to bed. He was standing by his dresser, taking pictures of his medal. I couldn’t make out everything he was saying, but I did hear him announce, “I guess this means I’m a real athlete now.”

My husband and I were pleased with the way Evan reacted to his first race experience. He never mentioned that he was one of the last kids to finish (in his defense, he was also one of the youngest), and we didn’t bring it up either. He is focused on his new athlete status, and he is anxious to run another race.

So, we are registered for another event later this summer. This time we are including our three-year-old, Delaney. Like a typical little sister, she saw Evan’s medal and wanted one of her own. We told her the only way to get one is to run a race. She seems excited about running, aside from the fact that she has to wear socks.

We’ll see how it goes. She may be able to walk the whole thing, or my husband might have to carry her across the finish line. Either way, we’ve found something that we like to do as a family. Races are fun, spirited events that often include music, free goodies and food. Running and jogging are great for physical health and improving self-confidence, and you don’t even have to win to feel great about yourself. That is why we run.

About this writer

  • Melissa Face

    Melissa Face

    Melissa Face lives in southeastern Virginia with her husband and two children. She teaches English, writes essays, and spends a little too much time on Facebook. Email Melissa at writermsface@yahoo.com.

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2 Responses to “Why We Run”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Melissa, this was an enjoyable read. Family competition, and exercise too. Fun!

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