Column: Running strengthens self and family

callistromner-webby Calli Stromner

Just a little over three years ago, this publication introduced me to the Morinville community as a neophyte runner who had gotten into the sport as a way to battle the bulge, fend off anti-depression medication and experience life as a fitter, healthier person.

I have since logged thousands of miles on probably a dozen (or more) pairs of running shoes. I have run 54 races in some pretty neat places like the Sonoma Valley, Montana, Florida, and throughout the Canadian Rockies. I have also met some pretty amazing people along the way – working moms struggling to maintain a balance; young kids who bound through wooden trails on bare feet; senior citizens who split their time between running the races and cheering other runners on in tutus and jester hats. Many of these have become lifelong friends.

In looking back at those first two Morinville News articles published in 2011, I realized I had missed talking about one of my most important motivators – my family. When I started running four years ago, I had finally drawn the conclusion that I was a bit of a fake in the parenting department – at least where physical activity was concerned. I made sure to get my kids to their swim meets, soccer practices and rock climbing lessons on time, but I didn’t show them that exercise was important by actually engaging in any physical activity myself. I frequently nagged them to eat their fruits and vegetables and to limit the amount of sweets and processed foods, as I sat in front of the TV ploughing through a bag of chips. It’s pretty tough to be an effective role model for your kids when you don’t practice what you preach. And so that was truly the final push I needed to get off the couch and lace up the shoes.

And that decision has paid off, not only for me, but for everyone in the family. My teenage daughter is a competitive triathlete who has joined me in running portions of the 160km Sinister 7 trail race in Crowsnest Pass and the 125km Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache this summer, along with shorter races closer to home. She now has a longer term goal of running her first half marathon this fall and wants to finish a full marathon by the time she’s 16.

My younger son needs a bit more encouragement when it comes to running, but he’ll lace up his shoes for a shorter jaunt when I ask. He’s more likely to be found practising tricks on his scooter at the local skate park or simply playing with his buddies.

Even my husband has increased his already high physical activity rate so he’s prepared for last-minute races that I register us for …or to be able to keep up with the kids and the wife.

While I can only speak from my own personal experience, a common activity that everyone in the family can share either independently or together creates a stronger, healthier and closer family bond.

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