I know lots of families who have family traditions, interests, and bonding that they maintain throughout the years. And I know a lot of families for whom running is central to that familial synergy.
If you were to walk into my house right now, other than the faint odor of stinky running shoes, you might not know that I live in a running household. I run. My bride runs. My kids run. My dog currently has an ACL issue, or she’d run.
Yeah, we’re runners, and the family that runs together, has fun together.
Last summer we all travelled to Hawaii for a long week. My wife was attending a work conference and there was no way SHE was going to Hawaii without us.
Item #1 on my list of things “to do” was to locate a local race while we were there and, of course, run it. When I mentioned this to the rest of the fam, they agreed that they wanted in. “Starts at 6 a.m.” “Humidity is 175% all the time.” “Hawaiian runners throw pineapples at non-Hawaiians during competitions.” Okay, I made up the last part but I wanted them to know what they were signing up to do. And they were all in (even with the pineapple projectiles).
I know lots of families who have family traditions, interests, and bonding that they maintain throughout the years. Some have season passes to Orioles or Phillies games and constantly attend as a group. Some are amusement park aficionados and make a pilgrimage or two each year to Hershey, Dorney, Busch Gardens, Disney, etc. For some, it’s the passing on of collegiate alliances like UD, Penn State, or one of the service academies.
And I know a lot of families for whom running is central to that familial synergy.
I’ve often talked about training in groups and clubs, where the commonality of running is transcended into friendships and bonding far beyond the squishiness of soggy feet after a 10-mile puddle-filled run. My longest and deepest friendships started with running. My bride and I met as a result of running. Even long-time friends who are no longer involved in the sport had, at some point, a relationship with running.
It is impossible to spend 24-hours in a van full of other runners in a 200-mile relay race and not bond. I recently saw a friend (yes, a running friend) who actually started to well-up a bit as we reminisced about a team relay event in New Jersey a number of years ago. If I go another five years until I see him again, I can guarantee that he and I will have the exact same reaction to that memory.
If your blood family doesn’t share your passion for dodging pineapples, you really needn’t fret. There are lots of people who do. It’s just a matter of you taking a look outside your door and taking the leap of being social. And it doesn’t have to be a local running club, either. Middletown’s MAC, Smyrna’s SCRC, the Downstate Striders, Pike Creek Valley RC are all great places to ‘family-up’ but a neighbor or a co-worker work just as well.
In late May, my daughter was fortunate enough to have her 3,200-meter race time accepted for entry into the state meet. I really didn’t think she’d get in, so I had promised my son I would take him to a local 5k. Unfortunately, both events were scheduled to run at the same time. What’s a running family to do? So, we prayed for bad weather, of course. Her race was postponed a day, boy and I raced our race, then we got to spectate her race the next morning. What’s that expression? Oh yeah… ‘Winning!’
Summertime is a great time to renew those bonds of amusement parks, colleges, baseball games and racing. Take some time to plan out an event or even a trip that focuses on that single commonality you share with family or friends, then go do it. Hawaii was great but Delaware is chock full of themed events that lend themselves well to building family ties. And I guarantee it’s a cheaper trip to Dewey, Milford or Newark than it is to Waikiki; probably fewer tropical fruit projectiles, too. Go have some fun together.
Former standout Lock Haven University runner Andy Shearer is a member of the Middletown Athletic Club, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club and USA Track and Field.