Running With Kids

Posted at 12:00 AM, Aug 24, 2012

by Margaret H. Evans, Contributor –

When Tena Allen of Garland, Utah, began training to compete in a marathon, it wasn’t long before her 20-year-old daughter, Jessica, decided to lace up her running shoes and come along.

That was four years ago, and the two have since competed in a number of races, including three marathons.

“Running with my daughter is by far one of the most bonding and priceless experiences I have had,” Tena says. “You learn a lot about a person when you run right next to them for one to five hours at a time.”

Tena and Jessica are among a growing number of parents and children who run together. Participating in an intense exercise like running is full of benefits–and not just the obvious physical ones.

“The time we have spent together includes some of the best moments of my life,” says Tena. “We laugh, cry, struggle and encourage each other. Every race we have run, we cross the finish line hand in hand. There has never been a race picture taken since we started running together that we are not side by side.”

Like Tena with her daughter, I’ve had some great experiences running with my son. We took up running two years ago and competed in our first 5K a few months later. Because I’m a slower runner, I told my son as we were headed to our first race that I didn’t want him to wait for me; he should just run as fast as he could. As I neared the finish line, what a thrill it was to be greeted by the sights and sounds of my 12-year-old son cheering for me. “Come on, Mom! You can do it! You’re almost there!”

Moms who are members of running groups say that although their children are not running with their moms (they’re being pushed in strollers), they are learning early on the importance of exercise and the benefits of running.

Carin MacLean, a mom of two from Fairfax Station, Virginia, has been in a running group since 2005.

“I love including my 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, because I feel that not only am I making a difference in my own life, but I am teaching them the importance of healthy living and lifelong fitness. I hope someday they will run alongside me. If it is any indication, my daughter and son currently run all over the main floor of our house pretending they are in”

Jenny Brymer, the leader of the Montclair, Virginia, chapter of, and a mother of four, occasionally runs with her teenagers.

“They run a lot faster than I do, but they cannot run as far. I usually catch up with them. I think as parents we always need to model good behavior.”

A Great Beginning
Genette Michaud and her daughter Sydney, 8, only recently began running together, but already they’re hooked.

“[Sydney] encourages me by giving me the drive to be a good example to her. In addition, we get to chat a little and get to know each other better.”

In April, Genette ran in a 5K and her daughter ran in a 1K, both in conjunction with the Salt Lake Marathon.

Most parents and children who run together would likely agree it’s an experience they would never trade. It’s brought them closer together and helped them get fit at the same time.

The Long Run
“I plan on running with Jessica until I can no longer run at all,” Tena Allen says, “and I will be right there running with my grandchildren, as well.”