Running as the Perfect Parenting Tool

running parentRun­ning and par­ent­ing have more over­lap than most peo­ple prob­a­bly think. Although it’s a sport many get into pri­or to hav­ing kids, it has the pow­er to become one of your strongest par­ent­ing tools.

It’s no secret that run­ning makes a great healthy option for those much-desired san­i­ty breaks and nec­es­sary patience rebuild­ing ses­sions par­ents fre­quent­ly seek. How­ev­er, it also has a much larg­er — albeit very stealthy – affect on the runner’s chil­dren, influ­enc­ing them through exam­ple and lay­ing pre­cious lit­tle seeds in their sub­con­scious that, if encour­aged and sup­port­ed over the years, have a very good chance of blos­som­ing into beau­ti­ful behav­ior and per­son­al­i­ty traits that any par­ent – run­ner or not — would be proud to see their chil­dren display.

If the old adage is true (spoil­er: it is!), your chil­dren will learn far more from your behav­ior than they ever will from your words. Run­ning is a great way to demon­strate what ded­i­ca­tion looks like in action, as it’s not a sport that can suc­cess­ful­ly be half-assed. You get out of run­ning what you put in, as most run­ners real­ize rather quick­ly. Years of see­ing their par­ent lace up and head out into the ele­ments regard­less of weath­er and life chal­lenges and return sweaty, smil­ing, and reju­ve­nat­ed every time is bound to make an impres­sion on your child.

With each year, life tends to throw more at you with­out regard of whether you feel ‘ready’ to han­dle it. Part of grow­ing up in our cul­ture is learn­ing how to bal­ance the many dif­fer­ent activ­i­ties we must be a part of with those that we sim­ply want to be involved with. Run­ners rarely have an eas­i­er sched­ule than the next guy, but they take that extra step to find, or cre­ate, pock­ets in their dai­ly sched­ules for running.

Endurance isn’t sim­ply con­tin­u­ing to move when you’re com­plete­ly spent – that’s poor time man­age­ment. Endurance is learn­ing how to man­age a goal and pace your­self appro­pri­ate­ly in order to reach it. The art of run­ning requires this in train­ing for every race and on each dai­ly run. If your chil­dren can glean this skill from observ­ing your life as a run­ner, they will have a much eas­i­er time in life set­ting and obtain­ing goals, whether they are sports relat­ed, career, or per­son­al goals.

Self Care
Some­times the hard­est thing as a par­ent to do is to real­ize the impor­tance of tak­ing care of your­self too. So much focus, under­stand­ably, goes into car­ing for your chil­dren and keep­ing them afloat in this world that par­ents often neglect their own phys­i­cal and men­tal health because they are sim­ply too worn out after they’ve giv­en their all to their chil­dren. While chil­dren cer­tain­ly should be at the fore­front of a parent’s thought in every­thing they do, it should also then be con­sid­ered what sort of exam­ple a par­ent is set­ting for them. Run­ning par­ents who con­sis­tent­ly find or cre­ate time to run not only expe­ri­ence the imme­di­ate pos­i­tive results of improved health and refreshed atti­tude and patience, but they are also set­ting a stan­dard for their chil­dren that it’s okay to do some­thing healthy for your­self. A healthy and bal­anced indi­vid­ual not only leads a hap­pi­er life, but is able to give more to those around them.

Find­ing a run­ner who isn’t pas­sion­ate about the sport is a bit like search­ing your body for ingrown hairs; you’ll find them if you look hard enough, but it’s not a big deal — they nev­er last long any­way. Just keep doing what you do, run because you love it and believe that your pas­sion shines through to your chil­dren who are watch­ing. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a par­ent who doesn’t want their kid to find a pas­sion in life, as pas­sion brings us hap­pi­ness, hope, and the mox­ie to real­ly live life the way you want to.