The Time My Four Year Old Ran a Marathon

It took her a month, and I couldn’t be more proud.

I can’t take credit for the idea because I originally saw it on another blog months ago, but it really took hold. What a cool way to introduce my girl to running and give her a goal to shoot for!

Scott ran his first marathon last fall and Mackenzie was right there cheering him on. 

She also saw him training for months in advance so she was very familiar with the concept of a marathon and when I casually mentioned that maybe SHE could do a marathon as a summer goal, she loved the idea.

Of course, she also thought she could probably just do the whole thing at one time “like Daddy” but after I explained to her (several times) that it might be better to take it a mile at a time since she was a new runner, she agreed to my terms.  🙂

We rounded up several friends who were game as well, printed up a goal chart and set a date to run the Final Mile all together. 


Then Mackenzie and I started running together.  Every day.  Six days a week.  Heat or no heat.  Rain or no rain. Even when her belly hurt. Even when she had to go to the bathroom after having gone right before we left the house. Even when Scott had to take her after work at night because her pregnant Mama was too toast. 

It was a fabulous experience and taught both of us so much about diligence and the rewards of hard work.  Her first “run” consisted of going out way to fast and included a lot of walking and a ~19 minute finish time.  But a week later she was pacing herself better and set her sights on running “the whole time”.  By the Final Mile she was consistently doing 13 or 14 minute miles with no walking and a mean finishing kick. Her best time was 12:37 and at ~30 weeks pregnant at the time, she was giving me a run for my money! 🙂

I noticed some side benefits as well:

  • My book-loving girl was much more active during other times of the day. She initiated games of tag with other kids and just generally ran around the house much more than before.
  • She noticed on her own that on the few days where she had eaten unhealthily in the hours leading up to her run (e.g., cupcakes at a birthday party) her body didn’t respond as well. Her comments at the dinner table started to reflect her knowledge that healthy food made her able to “go faster” and make her body stronger.
  • We now have this awesome example to draw upon to teach her in other areas of life. When spelling or math got difficult, we talked about how hard running a whole mile was on the first day but how it became easier and so much fun the more she worked at it.

The Final Mile (+.2)

The goal was to run 25 miles on her own and then join up with her friends to get to 26.2 .

I put together little medals and packed cones and some crepe paper for the finish line, my friend brought popsicles, and we lined our kids up for the big start.

(Scott was on call and we paused at the start line for him to handle a page.)

(Mackenzie has started gesticulating in the most adorable way to make a point. Her hand goes on her hip and she leaps around to emphasize the important parts of what she’s saying.)

Scott ran with her and Caitlyn, as usual, came along for the ride. They took off down a quiet 1/4 mile stretch near our neighborhood:

Mackenzie went out too fast, trying to keep up with the other kids, but she soon found her rhythm and I was SO proud of her for running her own race. She finished her first mile after nearly all of her friends had already done 1.2 but she kept trucking and was happy with her own efforts.

She is such a good example to me of humility. I’ve always wondered how she could remain oblivious to the fact that she’s a rockstar reader, despite other people making comments in front of her about it. But I learned from the Final Mile that she is probably aware, but she just accepts that “Everyone is Different” and dismisses it with a shrug. She had the same attitude about her friends finishing in 10 minutes while she plugged away at her 13 minute mile pace. “I did well for me, Mama, right?” and that was that.

Yes, you did VERY well my sweet girl. Way to go, Mackenzie!


About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
This entry was posted in Healthy Kids, Life as we know it. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Time My Four Year Old Ran a Marathon

  1. Katie says:

    So cool! I think Olivia would love this. Too bad we were too lame to do it with you guys this time. 🙂


  2. Andrea says:

    What a super idea. I might have to copy you! Jonas loves running and we want Luke to love it, even though it’s not something that comes naturally to him. : ) Thanks for the post!


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