I unexpectedly ran the Parkrun yesterday. I ran it with with my 6-year-old son. It was a fabulous experience, and a really valuable one, too.
We started off too far back in the pack, really, because we spent the first half-lap just running past people. But I had no idea how F would cope with the race, and I didn’t want us to get in the way of other people.
So F started off running along but was soon darting through people, running off, dancing around, turning around, hopping here and there. I told him it was fine to go past people. Even to stop and look behind him to see where I was (I was often unable to dart through gaps as nimbly as he could). But if he did this he HAD to get off the path and out of people’s way.
Our first lap was a joy. We waved at papa as we ran past.
The second lap, F found much harder. He said he wanted to walk. I told him he should just try running slowly, rather than actually walking. He found this really tough. He would start off trying to run slowly and then just dart off again. Then he’d slow down for a bit… then…. DART! This went on for a bit. It was good to just stick with him and run however he felt like running.
The third lap was a real struggle for F, but it was really rewarding to coax him along, talk to him about how all the best things are a struggle at times. If this were easy, anyone could do it, so it wouldn’t be such an achievement. I told him to think about how he’d feel at the end when he could tell everyone he’d run a 5K. That’s 5000m. That’s half a million centimetres! F meditated over these amazing numbers for a while, and carried on running.
And I told him to think about his arms, not his legs. He put on a spurt at this point that got him right to the final strait.
Of course, from here, he sprinted to the end. Up until then, I’d been jogging along quite happily with him. The pace felt easy, and I was enjoying how relaxed I felt. Suddenly, I was having to chase him! I told him to go ahead and just finish as fast as he could. I worked hard and kept just behind him all the way to the end. We overtook 2 people that had managed to overtake us earlier, in quite a hard-fought push of pace. They must’ve hated us! 6-year-old legs are speedy legs. You can’t easily catch them when they start to run.
Running like a 6-year-old was great. Soon, I won’t be able to run with my 6-year-old any more, as he’ll be too fast for me. He’s way to fast for me already over the 2K distance of the Junior Parkrun (9.47 today). But I’m grateful for the injection of joy to my running this week. And I’m thankful for the special mummy-time I had with him. I will remember this parkrun for a long time.
(btw… on a boring “me me me” note….our time was 32.18, and it was reassuring how easy this felt to me. It wouldn’t have felt so easy 6 months ago. Also, I’d run the day before with Sarah, and I ran again today -7 miles- so, without meaning to, I’ve done a 3-day streak….)