How Three Runner Dads Are Inspiring Their Little Ones to Embrace Physical Activity

Steve and Ella

We interviewed three Road Runner Sports runner dads to hear the inspiring, hilarious and all-too-real reactions their kids have had to their running.

We chose three of our favorite Road Runner Sports runner dads to share how they’ve imparted (or at least tried to impart) a love of running. We’ll find out how running has helped them better navigate parenthood and the weird things their kiddos have said to them about running (kids, am I right?). But first, let’s meet these runner dads:

Garrett Sheehan is the Grassroots Marketing Manager at Road Runner Sports. He has been running for 22 years and has completed 5 full marathons, including Boston, and countless other races.

Todd Velazquez is the Grassroots Senior Manager at Road Runner Sports. He ran in high school, left running for about 6 years to focus on playing tennis collegiately, and then fell in love with running again. He’s focused on going fast(ish) and then on going slow for long periods of time (ultra running).

Steve Lemig (featured in our cover image with his daughter, Ella)  is the Managing Editor at Road Runner Sports. He started running in the woods behind his house when he was 10 and ran cross-country in high school. Since then, he’s run dozens of half-marathons, 10 marathons and completed a solo run of the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim.

How Has Running Helped You Become a Better Parent?

Garrett and Hannah
Garrett and his daughter, Hannah

Steve: Endurance and pain tolerance! No, seriously. Running has enhanced my ability to put up with all kinds of annoyances. Running has helped me push through those moments when my muscles get tired from holding my kid after she gets tired a mile into a 3-mile hike. When my daughter was a baby and she’d cry through the night. I think running helped me deal with sleep deprivation and the ability to stay calm in stressful situations. The applications have been endless!

Garret: My kids are always demanding my attention; wanting me to chase them or swing them around or throw them up in the air. Instead of running to train for races, I’m now running to stay in shape for my kids.

Todd: I feel like the “right” answer is it’s built more patience or something like that. I’d be lying if I said that. For me it’s been more about setting a good example for my kids, about always striving for something, setting a goal and sticking to it.

What’s the Funniest Thing Your Kid Has Said to You in Reference to Your Running?

Garrett: My oldest daughter always wants to know if I won the race. Sorry, kiddo! Not gonna happen in a competitive running city like San Diego.

Todd: After particularly long workouts or races my daughters both let me know that I smell awful and run away from me.

Steve: I can’t remember, so I just asked her and she replied, “Noot,” which is what she says when she doesn’t have a good answer. So there you go!

Do You Think Your Love of Running Has Inspired a Love For Physical Activity? 

Todd, Ava and Charlotte

Todd and his daughters, Charlotte and Ava

Todd: For one daughter yes, the other no (kids are so different sometimes). I’m hopeful that the one that wants nothing to do with sports/physical activity will eventually come around.

Garrett: Yes, my oldest daughter ran her first race at three years old and understands the meaning of exercise as best as a kid her age can comprehend. I’m not going to force my kids to do anything, but I’m already dreaming of the days that my girls are out there running 5-milers with me.

Steve: Yes, for sure. My daughter just finished third grade and she’s been out for Run Club for the last three years. She loves mountain biking and skiing. She sees both my wife and me being active and I think it has a direct influence on her.

Do You Run With Your Kids?

Steve: When my daughter was still in a stroller, I ran with her all the time. She was an early walker and got bored with sitting in the stroller, so by the time she was 18 months old, she asked to get out and run with me. She’d run for a quarter mile or half-mile sometimes. It was amazing. She’s now 9 years old and preparing for her first kid’s triathlon this summer. She’s asked me to help her train for it, so we’ve started running around the neighborhood a few days a week.

Garrett: My kids are now 4 and 2. When they were babies, I used a running stroller occasionally, but they always preferred to be out exploring and playing. Now we love to go to the park and play tag or race from point A to B.  

Todd: I have one that is just getting to the age that she wants to start running with me and the answer will be YES! The other wants nothing to do with it but sometimes I can convince her to scooter while I do a short run.

To all the dads (runners or not) celebrating Father’s Day this weekend, have a relaxing, wonderful day. You’ve most definitely earned it. Happy Father’s Day!

Author bio: Sam Kerstetter enjoys stroller running and spending time in nature with her husband and daughter. Her other passions include social media (she’s the social media manager at Road Runner Sports) and content marketing. Follow her on Twitter at @SamKerstetter.

Get Dad What He Really Wants: 

PSA: Dad does not want a tie. Want to give dad the best gift ever? Give him the gift of shoes, gear and apparel – and great savings! When you become a Road Runner Sports VIP Family, you get 10% Instant Savings plus 5% back in Rewards Cash on everything, on every order. You’ll also get 90 days to test run shoes, socks, and insoles. Learn more about our VIP Family Rewards Program here. Here’s to being dad’s favorite kid for yet another Father’s Day. 

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