Training to Run a Half Marathon. . .With a Team. Of Kids.

After running my first half marathon last April, I was left without a plan for what to do next and not a lot of enthusiasm for running. I did 2-3 miles of running/walking every few days, but not much more. I figured I might run another half marathon at some point, but the idea of starting to train again didn’t excite me.

Then a couple days before Christmas, I received a random email from my daughter’s cross country coach. He was organizing an impromptu seven-mile run for anybody (including parents!) who was interested. My daughter wasn’t, but I was . . .which meant my daughter had to get up early and head out for a run over the school holiday break so that I wouldn’t look stupid being a parent without a kid, running along with the cross country team.

We had so much fun that day, and burning extra calories over the holidays was an added bonus. It was the longest run she and I had ever done together (well, we weren’t exactly together: I lingered about 250 yards behind the group the entire run, panting and trying to keep up with the kids).

During the run, the coach asked me about my running experience. I barely consider myself a runner, because I’m so slow. I average about 11.5 minutes per mile—which is, in fact, running (a fast walk is about 16 minutes a mile). By running standards, it’s really slow. I cringe when I talk to other runners who routinely describe a 10-minute mile as a slow run or jog. Even so, I had nothing to hide from the coach. I had just finished running 7 miles with him, and he could see how slow I ran, and how I struggled to keep up. Still, he encouraged me.

He announced at the end of the run he would train any of the children who wanted to learn to run longer distances. Older kids could learn to run a marathon, and younger runners could run a 10k or half marathon. I got excited, but I wasn’t sure if my daughter would want to do it, and whether it was open to parents.

Sure enough, another email came the next week, and at the end of the message it said, “Parents are welcome.” So, I showed up again.

This is the first time I have run with other people, and this is the first time I have been “coached.” Even though the coaching is for the kids, I listen and try to learn from what he tells them. I even get included in the team fist bump at the end of runs!

We have been running together for over a month now, and we have been adding a mile or two every week. Stay tuned to hear about some of my weekly struggles as the oldest (and slowest) member of the kids’ cross country team.

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