It Runs in the Fam­ily

Af­ter get­ting beat by an en­tire fam­ily at a race, I be­gan to won­der, how do par­ents in­spire their kids to be­come a run­ning team?

Canadian Running - - MADELEINE CUMMINGS - Read Madeleine Cummings’ col­umn in each is­sue of Cana­dian Run­ning. what madeleine cummings thinks about when she thinks about run­ning

Last Oc­to­ber, af­ter plac­ing eighth in a small cross­coun­try race in Grande Prairie, Alta., I did what al­most ev­ery run­ner with a wounded ego and too much time on her hands does: I Googled the peo­ple who had passed me. I learned then that not only had I been beaten by Bai­ley Hau­gan, a 17-year-old girl from Fort St. John, B.C., but also by her 16-year-old brother, Tate and her 39-year-old mother, Nicki.

Though my dad dab­bled in the 400m in high school and my younger sis­ter joined me on a re­lay team in Grade 9, I don’t come from a fam­ily of run­ners. My dad and sis­ter had nat­u­ral speed but lit­tle in­ter­est in train­ing. No amount of ca­jol­ing could per­suade them to lace up their shoes and join me for a run. The more I asked, the more they re­sisted.

I’ve al­ways en­vied fam­i­lies who share a love of the sport, and won­dered how they sus­tain it. Does a run­ning fam­ily oc­cur nat­u­rally in na­ture, or is it the re­sult of a per­sis­tent par­ent?

Cu­ri­ous, I reached out to Bill Cor­co­ran, a coach who put me in touch with the Hau­gans and the Ked­dies, a run­ning fam­ily in Ed­mon­ton. I also called Rob Cham­bers, who runs with his fam­ily mem­bers in Hal­i­fax.

I asked all three fam­i­lies how run­ning be­came a shared pas­sion. In all three cases, it be­gan with one par­ent fall­ing in love with the sport. In­ter­est­ingly, though, none of those par­ents pushed their chil­dren to fol­low in their foot­steps.

Bai­ley Hau­gan al­ways looked up to her mom, who was a suc­cess­ful ul­trarun­ner, but she came to the sport on her own terms, af­ter quit­ting dance a few years ago. Her broth­ers also fell in love with run­ning. Thir­teenyear-old Ty ran his first 5k at age two and Tate, 16, is a com­pet­i­tive triath­lete.

“The kids are ex­tremely self-driven,” their mom Nicki told me. “I’m the one who has to tell them to take a day off.”

Candice Ked­die’s son and daugh­ter, who are now 17 and 19, both spent time in jog­ging strollers as ba­bies. Candice didn’t push her chil­dren to run – she even tried hold­ing her daugh­ter back – but the kids em­braced it none­the­less. Daugh­ter Danae ran her first half-marathon when she was 12 and Ty when he was 11. Both are now com­pet­i­tive run­ners, but they still log many kilo­me­tres with their mom.

When Rob Cham­bers brought his daugh­ter El­liot to a youth race at the Bluenose Marathon on her third birth­day, he brought a stroller along, ex­pect­ing she would al­ter­nate be­tween run­ning and rest­ing dur­ing the four-kilo­me­tre route. In­stead, she bolted from start to fin­ish. The pair now run-com­mute to­gether and Cham­bers even started a youth run­ning team for other kids in­ter­ested in train­ing with them.

“It’s got to be an or­ganic thing,” he said, adding that run­ning helps his daugh­ter ex­cel in other sports, like soc­cer.

“My main goal for her is to use run­ning as a way to ac­cess fit­ness,” he said.

Most run­ners have ex­pe­ri­enced the ben­e­fits of run­ning in groups, ei­ther in train­ing or a race set­ting. But there are added ben­e­fits for fam­ily mem­bers who run to­gether, at least ac­cord­ing to the par­ents and kids I talked to.

“If you don’t feel like run­ning, there’s al­ways some­one to go with,” said Bai­ley, who trains with her mom and sib­lings most morn­ings.

Candice Ked­die ap­pre­ci­ates the deep con­ver­sa­tions she has with her chil­dren dur­ing the many hours they spend run­ning.

“I think it brings us closer,” her daugh­ter added.

“I’ve al­ways en­vied fam­i­lies who share a love of the sport, and won­dered how they sus­tain it. Does a run­ning fam­ily oc­cur nat­u­rally in na­ture, or is it the re­sult of a per­sis­tent par­ent?”

LEFT The Blue Nose Marathon en­cour­ages par­tic­i­pants of all ages to race to­gether

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