Running School

cartoon running

I’m trying to initiate Zac into the joys of running.  Sure, he did tons of running at his junior high.  In fact, he ran most days he had P.E.  The P.E. teacher used learning other sports like soccer and badminton (a personal favorite) like some people use spices:  very sparingly.  Oh, and table tennis, that all-important sport.  Most of his fitness time was spent doing circuits or doing a run-a-few-minutes, walk-a-few-minutes approach to cardiovascular conditioning.

I’m sorry to report no square dancing occurred during Zac’s P.E. hours.  Ever.  In fact, he still thinks I’m a little nuts for suggesting it.

All of the above to say that Zac is completely uninterested in sports or sweating at this time.  He’s coordinated.  He’s leggy and getting taller by the minute, I swear.  He could easily run cross country or track, or participate in some of the field events.  He likes baseball but doesn’t want to be on a team.  Kinda hard to play baseball without the other 9 other team members.

Today, my run got pushed out until later in the morning.  My mom, who had been visiting from Portland, waved goodbye after we took Ruby to school.  Now, while the clouds milled around in the sky like so many teenagers waiting for school to start, would be a good time to get outside.  Zac has an independent-type P.E. class as part of his curriculum. He simply must log some exercise most days.

“Hey, Zac.  Wanna do a walk-run thing with me? I’m gonna leave in a few minutes. We can get in the 45 minutes you need for today.”

Notice my persuasive tone, asking without being too needy or bossy.

Zac, engrossed in his game, thought it over.

“Yeah.  Sure.”


I told him of my plan to do five minutes running, five minutes walking. He looked a little green.  I know; I thought it was a lame idea, too, but I couldn’t stomach the thought of just walking for 45 minutes, and I know he couldn’t run for that long a period.

We set out, the sun making brief appearances between towering, threatening clouds.  This weather transition from summer to fall has been anything but smooth.

Zac runs sorta hunched over, like every step is painful.  It’s not, but it looks that way.  He shuffles along the pavement, a thirteen-year-old old man.  I’ve talked to him about form but I figured it would come across as nagging and would dampen the mood.  I pointed out the reddening tips of the maple trees.  He criticized our route, looping down one side of the street and back up the other.

“And we saw this already,” he groused.

“But it’s prettier this way,” I explained, sounding like a total girl.  “See?  You can see the creek and the trees.  Shelton has so few pretty spaces.”  He looked at me like I suddenly sprouted a second head.  Whatever.

I tried to get a little conversation going, but it seemed kinder to breathe and just let it be.  Our feet pounded the sidewalk and asphalt.  We found a companionable silence punctuated only by, “How many minutes left?” We managed to cover about 2 miles of running, probably a little over a mile of walking.

Zac collapsed on the couch when we got back.  I praised him and brought him some water, admonishing him to stretch.  Okay, end of Mom lecture.  I left him there, watching Phineas & Ferb, and put in a couple more miles on my own. Zac has so, so much potential and could do any number of things.  I’m learning to let go and let him discover what excites him.  I do hope running is part of it.


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