May 2016

What I learned about life running with a 9 year old

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Months ago my 9 year old son told me that he’d like to do a “challenging race” with me.  Both my sons have run 5K’s and other shorter distance races and have seen me complete some difficult races over the years so it wasn’t too shocking that he’d ask.  Since he’d never run more than 3 miles in his life, I signed  us up for an 8 mile trail race at the end of April.  We did a few training runs to build his confidence and as the day approached I envisioned a nice day of sunshine and trail running with my boy.  The one factor we didn’t consider was that this was April in Colorado.  48 hours before the race it began to snow and it continued on and off until race time.  Our race ended up being 8 miles through 9 inches of snow, 25 mile per hour winds and 20 degree temperatures.  Though to many that would understandably sound miserable it turned out to be an amazing day.  When I crossed the finish line with my son I had tears of pride at his accomplishment.  Watching him compete in the elements also reminded me of certain life lessons that I hold dear.  Today I’d like to share a few of those with you.

  1. Don’t underestimate how your journey will motivate others.  My son was the youngest competitor in the race by 10 years and yet time and again I saw him impact others.  Several people told him how they wanted to start running with their children, one woman shared a touching story from her past with us after seeing him and near the finish line he had the loudest cheers and many people came over to congratulate him with smiles on their faces.  This was a reminder to me that although we tend to view ourselves as “normal” we are constantly having an impact on those around us when we do the right things.
  2. Don’t complain, stay positive.  Even with the difficult conditions and physical strain he was under during the race, my son never complained once.  I’m a believer that complaining only makes challenges seem worse.  Had he decided to complain it would have only made us feel colder and the race longer.  Instead we  talked about things that made us happy or laugh which made a potentially tough time seem fun.  In fact we went 2 full miles as small pieces of hail pelted us head on in high winds while I listened to him excitedly talk about a video game!  Avoiding the urge to complain and instead applying positivity to your daily life will take you out of the tough moments and propel you toward greater things.
  3. Persevere and win by attrition.  Many victories in life are attained simply by pushing through when others give up.  My son won 3rd place in the 19 and under division.  That was 3rd place out of the 3 people that ran and his time was double that of the second place finisher.  However, there were dozens of other competitors in that same division that didn’t show up because of the treacherous conditions on race day.  On a day with perfect weather  he likely wouldn’t have been near the top but suiting up and showing up when others wouldn’t made the difference.  Life often works the same way.   Talent and ability will only take you so far, the rest will require an ability and willingness to overcome challenges when others won’t.
Matt KenneyWhat I learned about life running with a 9 year old
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