A Most Welcome Training Partner

One week into my new regime and I am happy to report no broken bones or bruised egos. My high school aged son, the runner who has challenged me to run a 5k race this June, devised a 14-week training program for me. Mostly walking at this early stage, I started out hungry for company.

My 12 year old autistic son warily volunteered and I leapt at the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with him while getting him more physically fit. To date, he’s been my loyal companion through unshoveled sidewalks and crowded indoor tracks, entertaining me with stories about his day.

When I’ve sensed that his enthusiasm for the adventure is starting to dwindle, I do my best to distract him until we’re back home. This, so far, has been relatively easy. I know that going 1.5 miles from my house will take us directly to the major road on which our high school is situation. Along the way, there are friends’ homes, an intersection with a nature path, tennis courts and parking lots – many distractions.

Each time we’ve ventured out this week, I’ve nudged him to go just a little further until, yesterday, we made it all the way to the major road and back again. 3 miles. Quite the coup.

Tonight, because of the cold and the dark, we took to an indoor track. Not especially crowded, but we did have to abide by the rules. The inner lane was for walkers, with joggers and runners taking the middle and outer lanes, respectively. My son ever so gingerly and almost too politely passed slower walkers by. As his long legs sauntered along, we got into a comfortable rythm and logged six times around the track. I looked at my watch and was aghast to see that only 3 minutes had gone by. 42 to go. I worried that it would be a long night.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth. As playing with his trains calmed him when he was younger, the monotony of walking in large circles mesmerized him. We chatted, but it was mostly for my own entertainment. He was a peace, even as I hurried him along to make sure we were hitting our heart rate targets.

When we went for our coats on the way out, he looked me in the eye and told me, “I really enjoyed that. Can we come back sometime?”

I hugged him, remembered the training plan and thought, “Be careful what you wish for!”


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