It’s been a while, but Kaitlyn still loves to run. A few weeks ago, we went down to the new sporting goods store here to look around, and left with a whole new running outfit for her-new shoes, new shorts, and a new running tank top. She had been wanting some new running gear since I talked to her about running the Trick-or-Trot in October.
As much as she loves running the one mile races with me, it seems like that is just not enough for her. She wants to run further. I had been balking at that prospect, mostly because of her age, for a while now, but I am finally at the point where it is time to give in and let her get a taste of a longer distance.
First, we have a few warm-up races. In a few weeks, it will be the first of a few mile races as we build up to a longer distance. For the next few months, I will enter her into at least one mile race per month to get her back used to running with a large group of people. Leading off is a race at the middle school that is right by her school; I figure there is a good chance that some of her friends from school will be there, so she will enjoy herself. Next will be the Trick-or-Trot in October; that one is a Friday night race, which should be pretty interesting for both of us. Then we will do the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, and be ready for a longer race.
Of course, we will not jump right into the next longest distance offered, a 5k. I think we will brave the masses and do the Jingle Bell Run this year downtown during the Winter Festival. It’s a shade over one mile with some pretty decent hills to run on. If, after that run, she is still asking to do a 5k with me, I will have us registered for a 5k early next year. My hope is that once she has that goal in place, and she already knows the plan, she will stick with it and do the 5k.
For me, there is a lot of joy in being able to run with her. She ran with me for a little this past Tuesday, and when I came home after finishing the rest of my run, she greeted me with, “how was your run, running partner?” That was really cool. I’m happy that she gets so excited about running, and to see the joy on her face while she runs is awesome for me.
I’ve read in a few places where people with Asperger’s tend to excel in individual sports (although they can also thrive in a team environment). The physical and individual nature of running is something that seems to have really taken hold of Kaitlyn. It helps burn off some of her boundless energy, and gives her a sense of accomplishment and a way to tangibly measure her progress.