I hate it when I ask the kids how school went and they respond with a vague one-word answer.
But all too often, when the kids ask how my run went, I do the exact same thing. I don’t know if they’re genuinely curious or just feigning interest, but I wonder if I’m doing them a disservice when I respond with a generic “good,” as I so often do.
This was on my mind Saturday, because I definitely was not having a good run. I‘d forgotten to change my shoes and so as Traci and I headed out on a 6-miler, I was really having to focus on “forgetting” about the worn-out clunkers that were bogging me down.
There were other issues. I was a bit under hydrated, nothing serious, just enough to make me uncomfortable. Because I wasn’t dialed in, my breathing got out of sync a couple of times. My legs felt tired, which kept reminding me of those darn shoes. And underneath it all was a baseline grouchiness because Ben had bailed on that morning’s triathlon — the first ever held in Bluffton — due to a sore foot that I couldn’t examine since I was at work.
Any one of those nagging irritants are exactly the kind of thing I HATE to hear my kids whine about — and boy, do they know it! But because I so desperately want them to learn to love running, I guess I shield them from most of my own complaints. Which is too bad, because that means that I’ve probably never shared this, either: Even on a bad run like the one on Saturday, I never wanted to stop. I was out there because I wanted to be — because even a bad run is almost always better than no run at all.
Is that a message that gets across to my kids? Or do they get the impression that somehow running is easier for me than for them?
Do they realize that it took an awful lot of discomfort — and yes, occasionally even pain — before I got to the point where I’m mostly enjoying myself?
Do they understand that this kind of “fun” still depends on a certain amount of effort that many people find unacceptable?
It’s a tricky thing, because while I don’t want them to whine about every little thing, I don’t want them to try to “run through” pain that might be signaling a serious injury. But I don’t want them to stop every time something feels bad, either. That’s not how life works.