During one of the free 5K runs that Loveland’s local running store holds weekly during the summer, I jogged up right behind who I assumed to be a mother and daughter walking together. The daughter was middle school-aged-ish. As I approached and eventually passed, I heard the mother telling her daughter about how long they were going to walk for and how long they were going to run for. After I had passed them and just as they were starting to jog again, the mom said, “Just start jogging really easy. See, running can be fun.”
Now, in general I despise these nickeling and diming one-way conversations between parents and kids, but usually pay no attention at all. This time, though, that last little bit the mom said to her daughter just about made me stop dead in my tracks. Running is not fun.
Running is the least fun of the whole activity. You get tired and sweaty. You’re out of breath. Sometimes your feet, ankles or knees hurt. It’s either too hot or too cold. People are hogging the trail or sidewalk. It’s dark out. And, it feels like the clock is ticking backwards or you’re on a treadmill destined to get nowhere.
Running is not fun at all. No way. What is fun about running is buying new, cushiony shoes. Fun is participating in a 5K and enjoying the party atmosphere of live bands, cheers along the course, free food and a spiffy new shirt. Even more fun is participating in one of these 5Ks with friends and either doing the whole thing side-by-side chit-chatting or meeting up at the beginning and at the end discussing your times and the difficulty of the course over free bananas and sports drinks. The fun comes when you go into work or school and talk about running with someone you would never have talked to except for this common activity. It’s fun to share tips and tricks. It’s fun running alone—savoring that chunk of time you’ve set aside to do nothing else but kick one foot out in front of another over and over and over. (The fun is the ideas that come to mind when your body is on auto-pilot.)
The most fun is being able to say, “I did it!” Regardless of what your time is, how horrendous it felt or how many times you had to walk, making this simple declaration is fun. It’s not to be confused with the huffing and puffing of running (absolutely not fun at all). So, for the mother-daughter duo I saw out on the trail, I’m sure the most fun for them is being with each other and saying together, “We did it.”