When my 6 year old, my baby–the youngest of my four kids–stumbled on a tree root, nearly fell, caught himself, and quickly recovered in a split second during a 5K Trail Race, I felt my heart jump into my throat.  Racing only a few steps behind him, I saw the trip and near fall happen in slow motion. I immediately felt nauseous.

My mom instinct wanted me to freak out, to put a kibosh on trail running, to grab my little guy by the hand and walk the rest of the way to the finish, but another voice swiftly overtook my being. He didn’t fall. He didn’t get hurt. Yes, he could have, but he didn’t. He was able to regain his balance and continue in an almost uninterrupted stride faster than I could say his name or tell him to take it easy. He finished the race, incredibly happy and proud of his big accomplishment.

Trail Running Makes Me a More Relaxed Parent and Happier Person

Trail running with my kids continually teaches me to be a more relaxed parent.  Running generally is a great way to reduce stress, relax, and become happier.  Trail running with my kids teaches me to relax more as a parent, face some of my mama fears about them getting hurt, put risks in perspective, and trust my children’s abilities on their own two feet on the trail.

Trail running teaches me to breathe through hard moments.

I run often with my children. I can see how trail running works wonders for their balance and coordination. Talk about working fine and gross motor skills!

Sure, my kids could get hurt on the trail, but so could I.  
They could get hurt running across the driveway. They have.
They could get hurt on a sidewalk. They have.
They could get hurt in a grassy field. Yep, that’s happened before, too.
They could get hurt in a chair. Got that one covered, too.

The more we run together, the more relaxed and trusting of my children’s trail running abilities I become.  Trail running has taught my kids to be quick on their feet. I’ve learned that I have got to trust that their little feet and bodies are capable of figuring out how to handle uneven and unpredictable terrain.  It’s really not much different than trusting a kid through the process of learning how to ride a bike.

Worrying nervously behind them mid-run won’t prevent them from falling or getting hurt.  Believing in them instead, however, works amazingly better. It helps them feel more confident, on the trails and in life off the trails. Believing in my children necessarily also means believing in myself–my teachings as a mom, as a running mentor, and as a training partner.  It means trusting that I’m instilling in my children how to handle themselves on the trail.  And that means they are learning to trust themselves.  To know themselves, to know their capabilities. They are discovering how to manage through uneven circumstances.

They are learning to breathe through the hard moments.

Being able to trust what I’m doing, how I’m spending my time with my kids on the trails, how I’m encouraging my kids to know themselves and to believe in themselves, ultimately makes me a more relaxed and confident parent.  Being more relaxed, makes me happier.

Sure, it doesn’t prevent me from occasionally feeling like a total nervous Nellie–and it doesn’t mean that I’ll never worry about my kids on the trail–but it does help me find comfort on the trail.

Trail running is one of those things where practice makes better. It’s impossible to reach a point where you can say, I’ve logged enough mileage now or experienced a sufficient number of trips or falls to prevent anything from happening to me on the trail.  However, running frequently does make you more efficient and adaptable on the trail. It improves your coordination and balance.  It does the same for kids who run trails.

Seeing how much happiness my kids get from their time on the trails makes me incredibly happy.  There is no way around it, trail running makes me a more relaxed parent and a happier one, too. 

Do you turn into a nervous Nellie when you run with your kids?  Does running with your kids make you more relaxed and ultimately happier?