My son and I have been running nightly for the last week. He’s much faster than I am, so we walk to our starting spot and then he takes off. I jog casually behind him until he is done. After he runs his distance at his own pace, he turns around to meet me and we walk the rest of the way home.
It has been an excellent system that seems to be driving his love of running and it has helped me to get back to running again. I like that I am running again, but more than anything I love the moments when we are walking together and we just talk.
Two runs ago, my son opted to run at my pace. He said that he was tired and wanted to just take it easy. I welcomed the company. After about a mile of our running together, we chose to walk the rest of the way. During our walk, we talked about a whole manner of things, and my son ended the walk pleasantly reflecting on what a great time he had.
Yesterday, we were getting ready to go running agin, and he said, “Do you want me to run at your pace or do you want me to run at mine?”
“It’s up to you, Buddy. I like either,” but secretly I enjoyed when we would run together, and perhaps he felt that because he opted to run next to me again.
“I’ll run with you then, Mom,” he responded.
A few minutes into our run, I wanted to stop. I lacked all motivation to run. In fact, I started to voice how disappointed I was with myself and about my ability to run. Jonah, on the other hand, tried to encourage me and pushed forward ahead. I just kept saying that I was old and tired. He would run slightly ahead of me at his pace and then every twenty or so feet, he would turn around and just wait for me to catch up. Finally, I said I was just going to walk.
“Fine,” he said as he ran ahead. “I am going to just keep running.” He turned around and looked at me.
“Jonah, just walk with me,” I begged. “Come on.” He shook his head and continued.
“Run if you want to run, Mom, or walk. But I am running,” he called back.
As I watched him run ahead, I felt defeated and ready to cry. Insecurities and self-doubting thoughts ruled my mind as I walked. I was too tired to run, but there was another feeling beneath those. Once Jonah was far enough out of my vision, I felt the desire to run again. So I did, thinking I could once again just run at my pace.
As I started jogging again, I felt better. I let my mind wander as it always did. I focused on the sights and sounds around me and I felt my feet hitting the ground in the rhythmic running shuffle I have grown accustomed to.
About ten minutes later, I ran around a bend in the road and Jonah stood on the other side. He walked back towards me, waving his arms and clapping. He smiled ear to ear.
“I knew it,” he said wisely. “I thought if I were you I wouldn’t be able to just walk. I’d have to run, and you did.”
I nodded and smiled, “Yeah, I just started to jog after a bit because I didn’t want to just walk.” He nodded in agreement.
“You know what else, Mom?” He asked as we started walking back towards home. His voice was excited and I was happy in that moment.
“I think I learned something really important today. I learned that you have to run by yourself because when I run with you, it just makes you tired. I have to go ahead because even though I really like talking to you and keeping you company, you just lose your stamina when you have to talk to me too,” he said.
And he was right. I told him when he would run with me, my head filled with thoughts about how I am so slow and I was just holding him back, so I started to feel really bad about myself.
“And I just kept getting so mad,” he continued, “because you just kept putting yourself down, and no matter what I said you just kept getting worse.”
“I think this might be a greater metaphor for us,” I said. “I think I need to let you run ahead, Jonah. As much as I love our talks and walks, I think it’s not really good for either one of us if you go at my pace.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right, Mom,” and I think he thought I was talking about running, but I wasn’t. It was in that moment that I realized we could hold each other back in our mutual regard for each other. Though we have both grown attached to the connections we make when we talk, we lose sight of the greater picture of why we started running together to begin with. It is more important and even better for us mentally and physically if we just stay in our own lane with running.
Could this transfer into my holding him, as well as Cole, back in their own lives because I want them to go at my pace or a life-pace I am more comfortable with? The realization scared me but also made sense to me. Do I also hold myself back and become stagnant in self-doubt because I am only focusing on them as opposed to my own path and journey?
“And,” he added. “We always get to still talk on our way back.”
“Yep, because, though I love running, I really love when we get to talk,” I said.
He nodded and we walked in silence for a little bit.
“Churros, churros, churros,” he started to quietly chant. But that explanation, dear reader, is for another time…
Love and Light, All.