Mom: My First Running Partner

Long before I met my husband, I had other partners in life. No, I’m not talking about old boyfriends, I’m talking about running partners.

It dawned on me recently that in just a few short months, I can truthfully say I’ve been running more than half of my life. Clearly, it’s a big part of who I am, yet I’ve rarely done it all on my own. I’ve had many training partners over the years, and they’ve all inspired me in different ways, but the ultimate credit really belongs to just one. My first running partner. My mom.

If it weren’t for my mom, running would never have entered my radar. From my earliest memory, I knew my mom was a runner. She’d get home from work, change her clothes right away, and head out for one of her usual routes. Often, I’d ask if I could come, which meant riding my bike alongside her. She always said yes. In hindsight, I see that I was probably cutting into her only chance of some alone time for the day, but at the time, all I was thinking was that I wanted to hang out with Mom.

Riding beside her, I’d do most of the chatting, and she’d listen while she pumped her arms and chugged up the hills. Sometimes I’d get bored and ride ahead, then circle back around. Sometimes I’d cheer her on. At the time, I didn’t think what my mom was doing was anything special – she was just running; that’s what she liked to do.

Over time, however, watching my mom run, and me finding ways to be a part of it, worked its way into me. It planted a tiny seed in my sole that started sprouting around age 10. I started asking if I could run with her.

She welcomed me along, and her runs turned into walk-runs with me, as I learned the importance of pacing and not trying to race up hills. She never asked if she could just run alone for once. She never made me feel slow or guilty for asking to walk.  She never got mad at me when I became frustrated that I needed to walk and took it out on her by being grumpy. No matter how the run went, she simply smiled at me when we were done and thanked me for joining her.

Mom taught me by example what a good and gracious running partner is.

By the time I was 15, I was easily running alongside her for 3 and 4 miles at a time, and she encouraged me to join the high school cross-country team. I was skeptical at first, but it ended up being my favorite part about high school. It’s where I made my friends, how I let off steam, and how I started really seeing my own potential. It’s where I found myself. It set me up with the self-confidence, discipline, ability to handle failure, and gumption to set big goals that has carried me through running – through life – ever since.

Since high school I’ve had many running partners, from friends, to strangers who become friends, to my husband. I am the lucky mom of two little girls whom I am already sharing my runs with via a jogging stroller. I’ve always told myself I’d never make them come along with me if they didn’t want to, but when my 2-year-old finally started talking and told me at the end of a particularly challenging daily run, “More running Mama!” my eyes filled with tears.

She likes it. And if she ever asks if she can run beside me, I’ll always say yes, as I know what that simple act of selflessness can ultimately do.

Thank you for this life-long gift Mom, I love you.


By: Audra Rundle


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