Whose idea was this anyway?

Whose idea was this anyway?

Let me start by saying I am not a runner. I am a jogger. Kind of a jumpy walker.

I really prefer brisk walks through the neighborhood as I check out other people’s houses.

But my son and I were bitten by the Illinois Marathon bug last year, and we made a foolish pledge to run in the 5K race this spring.

We started a training program in December with another family.

It hasn’t always been pretty.

At first, enthusiasm was high. Partly because the kids got play dates out of it. My friend (a real runner) set up a structured training program three days a week.

The kids started out walking for 5 minutes and running for 1, for a half-hour stretch. Soon they were doing 5 minutes of each. Then one day we jumped to 10 minutes of running in between walking stints.

That’s when the complaining started. "How much longer do we have?" they asked. "Why do we have to train?" And, my favorite, "Whose stupid idea was this 5K race anyway?" (Actually, yours.)

We gutted through each session, running at several different indoor tracks while snow piled up outside. They hit the wall when we pushed them past the 1-mile mark.

It’s not that they couldn’t do it. They’d run around outside all day with no problem. They just hated taking the time to train. They couldn’t play with their friends or do 100 other things they’d rather be doing.

But we were determined to stick to it. We can’t quit, I said. This will help you in other sports. Coaches are going to make you run no matter what you play. That worked, to varying degrees.

Then one day nothing seemed to help. Both kids were resentful and unhappy.

So we caved: we promised them iPods if they finished the training and the race without complaint. We're now at 2.4 miles per session and counting.

In our defense, they’d asked if they could listen to music while we trained, but neither of us had the right gear. So we thought it wasn’t an outrageous request.

Maybe it’ll even keep them running after May 2.

Stay tuned.

Photo: Runners finish the 5k family run during the 2009 Illinois Marathon. Photo by Rick Danzl

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