If you ever thought that marathon training was challenging as an adult, it's just as or more difficult as a teenager. My 17 year old son, Cairo is training with me for his first marathon, the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. In the beginning, I was slightly skeptical that Cairo's commitment level is where it needs to be.
Teenagers have a lot competing for their attention including school, friends, homework, girlfriend texts, Xbox gaming, and avoiding chores. Yes, races are a lot of fun, but it's the training that's the challenging part. Logging several miles a week over 3-5 days is hectic for anyone's schedule. I've laid out Cairo's training schedule and he has committed to it, but when it comes to the day of doing it, there's usually that teenager that doesn't want to do it. It's the same teenager that does not want to do his chores. Yep, training is hard and races are fun. I've told him repeatedly that we do the hard things so that we can have fun at the races!
When people ask him about his running he will usually say that he likes the races, but isn't crazy about the training. I'm sure this is true for most of us. I think we need to embrace the training. I recently saw a quote that I wish I could give proper credit, but it reads something like, "Finishing a marathon is made up of several finishes".
As I mentioned, I was slightly skeptical that Cairo's commitment level was not where it should be. That is until Saturday morning...
Saturday's morning long run started like most mornings with me acting as the human snooze alarm. That's where I come in every 5 to 10 minutes and try to wake up this young man. After moaning and groaning he eventually gets up and prepares for the run. Before the run, he complained about the outside of his foot hurting from Thursday's trail run. I asked the usual questions to see how bad the pain was. I also knew that we really needed this 16 miler. We agreed to see how it would do after a couple miles.
After 2.5 miles at a good stopping point, I asked how his foot was. He said that it was still bothering him and hurting. I told him an easy way to get home and sent him back home. I wanted him to continue, but not if it was going to hurt or alter his stride. I went onto my normal 16 mile route heading south to Plano. My run was a bit challenging as I've been doing Insanity everyday along with my normal mileage.
At about mile 13.5 after crossing back into Frisco from Plano, I saw a runner approaching wearing a yellow shirt. It was a yellow shirt with Frisco Running Club on the front of it. I was totally surprised when I saw that it was Cairo! I asked him the stupid question of "what are you doing?" He, of course, answers, running! We compared our Garmin watches and it was eerie that we had same distance. He explained that when he got close to the house that his foot wasn't feeling as bad. He said that he really wanted to finish the 16 miles. He went on running one of our normal 6 mile loops.
Again, I was totally surprised to see him and super happy that we were able to finish out the 16.8 miles. We toughed it out together. It definitely seemed challenging for him at the end. It was great to see him beam with pride after his longest run ever.
I really think this is a huge turning point of his commitment level. It went from just lip service that he's committed to… a full jump in the deep end commitment. Running over 14 miles on your own for anyone is huge! I am really impressed with this 17 year old son of mine. He could've jumped back in bed, but he chose to push through.
After recovering from the run, I told him how proud of him that I was. He said that he knew that I would be. I'm sure that was probably a part of what pushed him through the run. I know that his self-esteem has to be huge. This is definitely true for myself when completing something very challenging.
I really think for teenagers or anyone to take on a goal, they really have to own it and want it themselves. On Saturday morning, Cairo showed that he owned the goal and wants it. Yes, I'm sure that I'll still be his human snooze alarm, but he'll knock out the next couple of months of training. We're looking forward to completing the marathon in May.