Running with Older Kids

The phrase “mother runner” often conjures up an image of a woman with a ponytail pushing a stroller. The struggles (and joys!) of running while also mothering a baby or a toddler can be intense and are frequent topics of discussion at Salty Running and in the running-while-mothering world more generally. But those children don’t stay little forever, as relatives at every holiday gathering will surely remind us. What happens when the little ones are no longer quite so little, and mom is still running?

Ten features in the life of someone running-while-mothering a Tween and a Young Teen.

  1. My running laundry is constantly getting confused with my kids’ regular clothes. Whose tech shirt is this? Where are my favorite socks? Check the children’s laundry pile.
  2. My long runs are often at Zero-Dark-Hundred because weekends are devoted to driving children around to various activities.
  3. I wonder whether I can leave my kids home alone, for how long, and how far away can I run? Thirty minutes of up and down our street? Forty-five minutes of in the neighborhood, if I carry my phone? An hour if I’m really desperate?
  4. When I have to take them with me to the running store, I can bribe them with snacks if they are well behaved. My daughter prefers Gu. My son likes the Honey Stinger waffles.
  5. My kids snuggle on the bed with me to watch major marathons. They know the names of the fastest runners and cheer for their favorites.
  6. My daughter asked her mystified friend what she thought of Galen Rupp’s victory at Chicago.
  7. The number one reason I might run easy runs too fast? When discussion turns to the topic of school politics.
  8. During the hottest marathon ever, my daughter gave her Blue Raspberry Coolatta to me from the sidelines of the biggest hill on the course. It’s still a favorite memory: Mama, remember when I gave you my blue drink?
  9. I sometimes cross train in the pool during swimming lessons, and I’ve been known to stretch in the hallway of the dance studio.
  10. When I am really lucky, my kids run with me. Whether it’s a few steps or a few miles, it’s always a huge joy.

Do you have older kids?  Did you have parents who ran?  What are the benefits and challenges for parents and (older) kids who run?

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  1. My kids are getting up there, and #s 1 and 3 are definitely true for me too! I’ve started occasionally running with my older boy, and it was so fun for me to “train” him for his first 5k. He did amazing, of course, and now is good for a while. As in, not interested in running anymore now there is no race on the horizon. I figure that is just fine- when he’s ready, he will be ready….

    1. My son also only trains when there is a race on the horizon. After a couple of less-than-fun experiences of racing without training, I do make him put in some miles before I pay his registration fee. But secretly – I wish he would run much more than he does because I love the time with him.

  2. Love this! We’re exiting the stroller run days over here, and my older child can now bike along with me on a training run (but only on an easy day because the pace is still a bit all over the place). Unfortunately, this now means my kids watch a fair bit of netflix while I run on the treadmill!

    I can really relate to #2 because the only long-run-buddies i have these days are two other mothers to school-agers. Our daughters are all in a musical theatre program and we were so upset this fall when the start time moved from 9:30 am to 9:15 am, stealing away 15 precious post-run shower minutes!

    1. It’s incredible how kid-schedules drive run-schedules. My son started high school this and his new early morning schedule has dramatically shifted mine. On the other hand, he really is old enough now to leave alone while I run. But you are so right that it’s also the schedules of the running buddies and *their* children so it can get really tough to find a time to run together!

  3. As Salty’s kids get older I’m starting to see some of this stuff manifest with them! When I was visiting for Christmas I even took my nephew out for a little .7 mile run! It was so much fun and such a nice way to bond together.

    1. I wish my kids would run with me more often. But I’m really glad that I never said no to those little .7 mile jaunts, even if they came at the end of a tough 18 miler, which they inevitably did. It’s also incredible to watch children develop physically in their ability to run – one day their limbs are flailing about and they are staring at clouds and the next day, they are zooming down the course!

  4. I’m just waiting for my 10-year-old to realize how weird I am, haha! She has run kids races for fun for years, but the past few years she hasn’t wanted my husband or I to run them with her.

  5. Love this! It’s my dream that someday my son and I can go for a run together. Right now he likes to “run together” in the sense of playing tag non-stop; occasionally he’ll ride his bike while I jog alongside.

    1. The bike/run combo is a great one! Take advantage of it while you can because they get fast on those bikes in a big hurry!

    2. Ditto! (On Sunday we went to the university indoor track – we live on a college campus, and it’s a weekend during school break so the track was empty – and my 2yo demanded “Mama, run with me!” so we did…non-stop. For 45 minutes.)

      My parents were also runners when I was growing up, and when I was 5 or 6 I would ‘run’ with my dad (the half mile to the park, and then back) after his Sunday runs. The great positive of having parents who enjoyed running was that, even though I primarily did ballet, I *expected* to find running fun, and so I did. I think that’s one of the ways runners serve as role models for their kids: creating an environment where being active is an enjoyable everyday affair. Love this post.

  6. Mine are 8 and 11 so just on the cusp of being able to leave them alone for runs. I have 2 mile and 4 mile loop options around my house, sometimes I will go out and do a loop, check in to make sure everyone is still alive and no one needs a snack (which would inevitably mean pushing a chair up against the cabinets and risk crashing to the floor), and then head out again for another loop…

  7. This is great! I can only imagine it gets harder and harder to find the time when your kids start having more activities of their own.