The Joys of Family Running

People run for different reasons. For some, it’s to maintain fitness or as a means of recovery. For others, running is what grounds, centers and ignites them every day.

When Erin Stephens-Marner’s 4-year-old daughter passed away, she took up running to channel her grief and find peace. Today, she still runs, often accompanied by her 10-year-old daughter Matilda.

“When Matilda first started coming with me on runs, we’d barely jog and then stop for a snack,” laughs Erin. Fast forward a few years, and mother and daughter are regular competitors in their local Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k.

While Erin thrives on the self-discipline of running, Matilda explains that her favorite thing about running is “a sense of accomplishment for doing something hard.”

Most importantly, both mother and daughter enjoy being outside and connecting with each other. “Running makes it easier for us to talk about things in our lives,” explains Erin.

Robb Reece is a professional runner who has competed around the world. He’s also a dad and the cross-country coach at Palisade High School. Robb began running in seventh grade, purely for the joy of it. “While other kids were playing football, I was cruising around town, always trying to push myself to run longer and farther,” he says.

When their children were young, Robb and his wife Christi introduced them to a wide variety of activities, hoping that something would stick. Their son Zenon took to running, and Robb cherishes the time they spend together.

“The most important aspect of running with Zenon is the bonding,” shares Robb. “We may not be talking, but we’re together doing something physical and rewarding outdoors.”

Being outside and enjoying nature are key factors for many families. Michele Rewold introduced her two daughters to running as babies, pushing them in a double jogger. She thinks this may have sparked their interest in running. “We’d have special snacks, and I’d point out things along the trail to keep it fun,” she says.

Now that her daughters are 10 and 14, Michele and her family enjoy running and competing together. Still, keeping it fun remains Michele’s focus. As an elementary school teacher and Girls on the Run coach, she knows that forcing kids to run is the best way to make them hate it.

As she puts it, “my message to my daughters is always that running is fun and it makes you feel good!”


Originally published in the Fall 2019 issue of Spoke+Blossom