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10 Lessons My Child Can Learn From The Running Community

Any time there is a national tragedy, we all feel it. And while it often has nothing to do with us personally, it still somehow feels personal. We hear of the victims, and relate them to people in our own lives. We learn of the circumstances, and think of times we innocently did something so similar.

Yesterday’s tragedy in Boston has affected my family deeply. We weren’t there, and thankfully don’t know anyone personally that was affected, but we are runners. And as anyone who runs knows, runners are a family. It has been several years since my marathoning days, but I can remember the feeling of proudly reaching a finish line like it was yesterday.

Since my son was born almost a year and a half ago, I’ve been hesitantly venturing back to to the starting line and lacing up my shoes again. And while the journey back has been rocky and slow (both literally and figuratively), one of the biggest motivators for me is the itch to get back into the running community.

I started running when I wasn’t necessarily at a great place in my life. I was overweight, unmotivated, and generally lacking direction. My best friend and I signed up for a local 5k, bought new running shoes, and never looked back. Running – and the community I’ve met through it – has taught me as much about who I am in the inside, as it has about what I can do physically.

As our family continues to grow and expand, my husband and I hope to continue to run and have our children be part of something that we love so much. Whether that means they will be runners themselves, or part of the cheering squad on the sidelines – it doesn’t matter to me. I just hope that they can take some of the amazing lessons I have learned through running, and carry them with them as they venture on through life.

Here are 10 lessons my son can learn from the running community…

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  • 10 lessons my child can learn from the running community (and the people of Boston!) 1 of 11
    10 lessons my child can learn from the running community (and the people of Boston!)
    Yesterday's tragedy at the Boston Marathon shook all of us - parents, runners, friends, wives, Americans. But if I know anything about the running community, it is that this will only make the runners stronger, faster, and the starting line more crowded. Here are ten things I hope my son learns as he grows up our local running community.
  • There are good days, and bad days, but we always get up and try again. 2 of 11
    There are good days, and bad days, but we always get up and try again.
    Like all things, running brings good days and bad days. Good runs, and runs we'd like to forget. But we always lace up our shoes and head back out the door again eventually, no matter how much it might hurt. I have watched Cullen learn and grow for many months now, and while new developments and skills have brought a lot of laughter and joy, they have also brought frustration and tears. He is a big kid still trapped in a little toddler body, slowly learning to navigate this big, complicated world. It is important that he continues to get up and try again, no matter how many times he might fall, and how many hurdles he'll face.
  • Find something you are passionate about, and stick with it — it can take you to amazing new places! 3 of 11
    Find something you are passionate about, and stick with it — it can take you to amazing new places!
    Before I got into running, I didn't really have any hobbies or activities outside of work and social time. My involvement in running has since taken me all over the country. I've run races in Florida, Ohio, Washington, North Carolina, Indiana, Washington DC - and many more wonderful places. I've run in the freezing cold, and in melting heat. I've experienced so many wonderful things and met incredible people, all because I found a passion and got involved in an active community. Whether it is a sport or some other type of interest, I hope that Cullen find his passion and - no pun intended - runs with it. A community and focused outlet can often take you further than you can go alone.
  • Just when you think you can’tdo any more, push a little bit harder. 4 of 11
    Just when you think you can'tdo any more, push a little bit harder.
    Running will test the limits of both your will and your spirit. You will want to quit. You will swear you are never going to do it again. And then you will push on, take another step, and keep going. There are many times in life when we want to give up, but on and off the race course. But I have never regretted finishing a race that I started.
  • Everything is better with a friend. 5 of 11
    Everything is better with a friend.
    I have run a lot of races over the past few years - many on my own, but several with friends or family. Working together toward and end goal, supporting each other through hard times, and encouraging each other to keep going and finish together is such a special experience. In life, there are many achievements and goals to be reached individually. But to reach out and share a passion or interest with someone else, is to form a bond that is hard to put into words. I hope my son always looks to share his world with those around him.
  • Sometimes we do things even when we don’t want to. 6 of 11
    Sometimes we do things even when we don't want to.
    This picture is from my fourth marathon - 26.2 miles in non-stop pouring rain. Every inch of it was miserable, and I thought about quitting many times. But I worked hard to train for it, and I knew people were cheering for me and counting on me to finish. So I did. At almost 18 months old, my son is at a prime age where he is starting to assert his independence and wants. He knows what he likes, and he definitely knows what he doesn't. Whether it is sitting through a long car ride, hanging out an extra ten minutes in his stroller, or finishing the rest of his peas, I am working hard to make him understand that sometimes we have to do things even when we don't want to.
  • Find your motivation and keep it in sight. 7 of 11
    Find your motivation and keep it in sight.
    It has been a slow and difficult journey to get back into running after having a baby. Emotions have been high and mileage has been low. But I am motivated to keep going and keep trying because it's important to me that my children see me work hard for something. I think about Cullen when I want to give up, he motivates me to keep going. There is no better feeling in the world than seeing him clapping for me on the sidelines.
  • If you can’t do something yourself, support those who can. 8 of 11
    If you can't do something yourself, support those who can.
    The running community wouldn't exist without the amazing support from friends, family, and total strangers who pour into the streets early on race day morning to yell, scream, and cheer for us. I have run a lot of races, but I've also cheered for many as well. I don't know which side of the course I like better. There is such joy in watching others accomplish something they have worked hard for, and it always leaves me excited to go home and make plans toward my own hopes and goals.
  • Often times the hardest step is just getting started. 9 of 11
    Often times the hardest step is just getting started.
    While I have had to beg, bargain, and plead with myself to get out the door for many runs, I have never come home and regretted a single one. Sure, I've been tired and very sore afterward, but I've always been happy that I worked hard and pushed myself to do something active and healthy. As a young child, Cullen will face so many challenges as he continues to learn and grow. He is strong-willed already, and even at this young age I can see that he pulls back from things that aren't exactly as he wants them. I can't tell you how many times I make him dinner that he refuses to eat without taking a single bite. But if I can coax him into eating just ONE bite, he realizes he likes it and wolfs down the whole plate. It's all about just getting started.
  • Most of the time, you are only racing against yourself. 10 of 11
    Most of the time, you are only racing against yourself.
    As a kid, I never really got that into team sports. I have never liked being the center of attention, and always preferred to quietly do my own thing. I think that's why I gravitated toward gymnastics as a child, and then fell in love with running as an adult. I have run in races as big as 50,000+ people, and yet I've never felt like I was racing against anyone but myself. I don't focus on the runners behind or ahead of me, but rather on the personal best I set last month, or the time I clocked on the same course last year. The comparison trap is a tricky one for both parents and children to avoid. As a mom, it's too easy to worry about what my child is doing/saying compared to his friend his age, or the other kids at the playground. But ultimately, he will do things on his own schedule, and when his own mind and body know they are ready. As a child, I hope he learns to excel at his own rate, and take him time when he needs it. The finish line is there no matter when you get to it.
  • A community is a group with a shared love, passion, and understanding of something. 11 of 11
    A community is a group with a shared love, passion, and understanding of something.
    The biggest lesson I have learned as a runner, is how amazing it feels to be part of a passionate, active community. Of course my experience is biased toward running since it's the thing that I do, but I've never seen such incredible displays of sportsmanship, support, and encouragement from anything else. It is motivating and inspiring, and it drives me to be both a better runner, and a better person in general. I hope Cullen grows up cheering us on from the sidelines, watching the camaraderie and support between both runners and spectators, and feels compelled to encourage others himself. I hope he sees runners helping each other, and learns the value of supporting strangers - for no other reason than just to help. And I hope that someday he learns of the tragedies in Boston, and feels inspired to victoriously cross a finish line of his own.

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