When we began preparing to launch RunJersey.com, our little passion project that you are reading (and hopefully enjoying) right now, we looked everywhere we could to find good content that runners would want to read. We relied on experts we knew, friends, running buddies, old colleagues and even our own families for the goal of providing us with material. Our “ask” from all these folks was simply for them to provide us with anything we could share that our readers would enjoy.
One of my family members I asked for running insight was my Uncle Jack. I knew Uncle Jack didn’t run anymore, but I remembered that he was an active runner for most of the 90’s. Being part of a huge Irish family, we get together about 200 times a year for someone’s birthday, wedding, Christening (or prison release celebration). So, at one of our events, I pulled Uncle Jack aside to talk with him about running.
“So Jack, how come you loved running so much for all those years? What was it about the sport that got you so into it?” Jack didn’t reply, but instead, shot me a quizzical look.
I persisted, “What? You were a huge runner, I remember you being all about it.”
He took a deep breath, looked me over and his words amazed me.
“I hated running.” Uncle Jack confessed.
I had to protest, “No you didn’t. I remember you and the girls (my 2 cousins) would run all the time. You did 5K’s and 10K’s almost every weekend and even a couple of half marathons. You didn’t hate it.”
Jack restated his simple response. “I hated running.”
My Uncle Jack is a man of few words. He is a blue collar guy and has been a union Iron Worker since he got out of the Army in the early 1970’s. He’s the very definition of old school. Every day for the past forty years he grabbed his lunch pail, got in his pick-up truck and worked his tail off all day. Work hard, go to church and do whatever you can for your family. It may sound simple, but that is how the man lived.
Since I was now thoroughly confused by his answer, I insisted that he elaborate. Realizing that I wouldn’t go away, my uncle sat me down.
He explained, “As I said, I hated running. I worked a million hours a week and came home dog tired every night. But, I had 2 teenage daughters and realistically, we didn’t have too many things in common. You know girls, they always have a lot on their mind. So I thought, ‘What better way to spend some quality time with my daughters than to bang out a few miles, a couple nights a week?’ Girls never tell their dad what’s going on in their heads or what their real worries are. However, if something was on their mind (school, boys, friends, weight issues) they usually open up about it after a few miles. Running just served as a medium for me to connect with them. I hated the sport, but I loved their company.”
“Girls never tell their dads what’s going on in their heads… after a few miles they open up.” (tweet this)
I sat in awe of my uncle as he told me this story. For about a decade, my uncle sacrificed much needed rest to get a few extra hours of quality time with his daughters. His selflessness was incredible to me. It really made me think. Is there a better way to connect with a teen than to sweat through tough runs and battle hills together? Was there a better way to get a kid to open up to a parent than through the world’s greatest sport? Jack had made a brilliant discovery.
So he hated running, but loved his daughters. He hid his fatigue and sprinkled on some bs (in the form of running shorts and a pair of Nikes) to get some quality father/daughter time with his two teenage girls who needed him more than ever.
Uncle Jack’s story may be the best running lie I’ve ever heard.