Parenting and running have long been intertwined in my life.
Running has been sanity-saving from the very beginning of my parenting experience. When I was newly pregnant with my older son, I knew I wanted to keep running as late into the pregnancy as possible. A fellow runner with a new baby offered the first helpful parenting advice I received: “If you want to run during your pregnancy, make sure your doctor or midwife is a runner.” I was able to run into my eighth month with medical approval.
My sons began attending Team Altius (the precursor to Team Run Flagstaff) in 2008 before they were old enough to go to school. Walking on the field is now forbidden in order to preserve the precious Arizona grass, but back then, my sons enjoyed playing tag and wrestling on the field with the founders of our community running program, Jack Daniels and Mike Smith. These early experiences may explain why they have always felt at home on the track.
By the time they accompanied us to Team Altius, the kids had already spent many happy hours at the track while their dad (my husband, Rich Hofstetter) did his sprinting workouts. They actually learned to cross the track before they learned to cross the street. It was natural for our older son to choose to bring a track spike to preschool in honor of “S” when it was the letter of the week.
My sons now regard the track as a playground. They competed for the BASIS Flagstaff High School track team this spring in jumping, throwing and running events, including some relays, and will compete at the state meet in multiple events. Track season has counteracted so much of the “meh” that has been 2020–2021. Without dwelling on the negative (there’s been a global pandemic — I’m not sure if you’ve heard), it has been a school year full of challenges and struggles. To see my kids have so much fun—being joyful, happy, successful and social in a year that has not offered enough of that — has added to my love of the sport of running.
Since today is Mother’s Day, it is only natural for me to reflect on the connections between parenting and running, which are all mixed up in my mind, in the best possible way. Tomorrow is my younger son’s 16th birthday. He, like his brother, was born to two runners who unexpectedly ended up living in Flagstaff, a town that suits us all so well. Additionally, tomorrow marks 12 years since the Arizona Daily Sun’s editor, the late Randy Wilson, ran the first High Country Running column. (The debut column was “Running series adds 6th race” by NATRA’s Neil Weintraub.)
I’m the proud Mom of two wonderful sons who run. As the founding editor of High Country Running and having served for the first four years as its coordinating editor, I am also proud of my other “baby”—this running column that was born from a community running spirit, then raised and nurtured by our whole community.
Karen London is a recreational runner and longtime member of Team Run Flagstaff. As a canine behaviorist and professional dog trainer, she regularly incorporates running into treatment plans for dogs with behavior issues, including the aggressive ones who are her specialty. “Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life” is her most recent book.
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