How This Mom Turned Running Into More Than Just Exercise
It’s a good thing I took up running five years ago.
I say that not because it’s healthy, or a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, or affordable, although it is certainly all of those things – I say that because my son Benjamin, who recently turned seven, has turned out to be quite the little running man…and I’m grateful I can keep up with him!
Ben is on the autism spectrum and was diagnosed with Asperger’s and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when he was four years old. Like many kids on the spectrum, he has some very concrete and narrowly-defined passions. In his case, those passions are trains, running and more trains!
Ben has always been a daddy’s boy and my husband is his favorite person on earth, but running has been a great way for the two of us to bond. We love to get outside and run around the neighborhood or head to the track at our gym, and sometimes we even do races. In fact, Ben completed his third 5K this year, at the Belle Isle Fun Run on New Year’s Eve. We ran the 3.1 miles in 47:53, which is a pace of 14:40 minutes/mile.
I have to admit: it’s hilarious watching him breeze past people and seeing their jaws drop (or better yet, saying, “whoa, look how fast that kid is!” or “Man, I can’t believe I was just passed by a little kid. Quick, let’s catch up!”). Even more hilarious are the adorable things he says while he runs, such as “I’m about to pour on the speed, mom” and “don’t worry if I go ahead of you, you won’t get lost.”
In case you were wondering, I’m faster…but I am dreading the day he leaves me in the dust and I expect it’ll happen sometime in the next 2-3 years. Yikes!
The value that running brings to Ben’s life, and to mine, is even more important than the cuteness factor. I will admit that I do most of my runs solo, often after he has gone to bed at night, but the runs we share together are way more fun. Seeing the smile on his face, the feeling of freedom, and the way he’s able to expend his (considerable) energy to better focus his mind…it’s priceless. It’s also been a helpful way to show him how to navigate around our neighborhood, reinforce “stop, look and listen,” and teach other safety lessons that children with his symptoms sometimes struggle with.
For me, running started as an efficient way for a time-crunched mom to get some physical activity into her day. But now that Ben is a true runner, and it’s become part of how we bond, I know I’ll never stop.
Not even when he’s leaving me in the dust.
Photo credit: Lisa Rajt