Running with My Daughter: The Gifts We Give Each Other


It’s natural for our children to pick up on some of our favorite things and make them their own. I mean, my oldest daughter was barely two-years-old when she started asking to go to Target. What can I say, she gets me! I hope to share so many other things with my children when they’re older – reading the Harry Potter series at bedtime, playing volleyball, rewatching the Buffy series together, singing our favorite show tunes into our hairbrush microphones. Most of those things are still in our distant future, but during quarantine, my daughter and I discovered a hobby that we can enjoy together now even though she’s only four: Running.


During those long, difficult quarantine days, I found myself looking for time I could spend in solitude to regroup and center myself. Some days it was meditation or yoga. Other days it was starting my workday early with a cup of coffee in silence. And still other times, it was going for a solo run. While I was craving alone time, my daughter was searching for time for the two of us to connect alone. She started popping up everywhere on those early mornings (the earlier, the better in her opinion). One weekend morning, I was getting dressed for a short run when she came bursting into the room. In a bid to give her some one-on-one time and keep her quiet so my partner and younger daughter could stay asleep, I invited her to come with me.


Running together was a revelation. She absolutely loved it, and actually, so did I. Gone are the days when I would go out for a ten miler on a weekend. In my beginning stages of getting back into running shape, our endurance is pretty similar. It’s nice to run with someone without worrying about keeping up. There’s no judgment if I need to slow down. “It’s okay, Mommy, let’s take a break and try again!”


That first day I worried about pushing her too hard, I told her she was in charge of how fast we went and that she could choose when we would take walk breaks. She was so excited about that! After all, how often do preschoolers get to call the shots? I enjoyed the whimsy her choices brought to our run. Even though I’m still getting in shape, my self-talk often revolves around the physical abilities I once had rather than where I am right now. But on our mother/daughter runs, there’s no time for those thoughts. During a single run, she might encourage me to sprint all out to “win the race, Mommy!”, order us to walk for a while because she’s too sweaty, or come to a complete and abrupt stop to pick a wildflower from the side of the road.


She doesn’t care a fig about distance, just about spending time together. I’m the type who will jog around the driveway to hit a nice round number on my Garmin watch. With her, those things are out the window. Depending on the day, she might want to go farther, usually through the “Enchanted Forest” (a.k.a. the walking path that goes through a wooded section of the next subdivision). Other times, she gets bored or too hot after a mile and wants to go home. And every minute is worth it when she says things like: “Mom, do you really love running with your daughter? Because I love running with my Mom.” *Melt*


We’ve signed up for a few different kid-friendly races throughout the spring and summer, including the virtual Macklind Mile kids’ dash and Girls on the Run 1-mile fun run. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally get that family member who wants to do a turkey trot on Thanksgiving with me!


Do you and your child have a shared hobby? If not, what activity would you love to share with them if they were interested?