Foot Notes: Nudge, don't push, your kids to put down the screens and join you outside

Andy Sandrik
Foot Notes

When I became a parent, I promised myself I would let my children have their own hobbies and pursue their own dreams and ambitions, and give them nothing less than my full-fledged support for whatever path they decide to take.

But what do you do when those dreams and ambitions seem to revolve around watching YouTube, playing video games, and raiding the house for gummy worms and potato chips?

Sometimes all it takes to get our kids — or friends for that matter — outside is a gentle nudge and a simple question: Do you want to try this?

Save for one really frustrating day on the field, our 4-year-old Vivienne seems to be enjoying her time playing soccer, but we haven't found anything that's clicked just yet for our 8-year-old Paxton.

Foot Notes:No shoes, no socks, no problem when you are barefoot running

He really enjoys getting his swings in baseball, but isn't the biggest fan of playing defense or making throws. Pax has done well at tennis lessons, too, but given the choice between tennis and TV, he'll take the latter every time.

Last week, he checked the "no" box every time as we went through a long list of abandoned hobbies and rejected board games. Flustered, I finally asked, "Hey, do you just want to go for a run?" To my surprise, he said yes, but only if he could choose the route. I asked if he thought I'd be able to handle it.

"I don't know, Dad, it's gonna be pretty hard."

Foot Notes columnist Andy Sandrik

We started our run on the graveyard track behind the house, with Pax leading every step of the way. As we ran, he described the turns we were going to take and the loops we were going to repeat. All of this, he said, was going to be so hard that our best chance to survive just might be turning on video game music on my phone.

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So with Pac-Man, Zelda, and Tetris tunes lightly playing in the background, I stayed a step behind Pax as he guided us through his hellish route. At about the half-mile mark, he warned me about the hill, and set an example charging ahead with his face forward, back straightened, and his arms pumping.

We passed by our house, where he gave me a chance to "quit if it's too tough." I shook my head and told him I was ready for whatever punishment he had to dish out. We once again hit the loop and the hill. This time he was tired and it was my turn to do the encouraging. Two more right turns, and we were finished for a total of 1.7 miles. He ran every step of the way, and I was overwhelmed with a mix of pride and surprise.

Foot Notes:Thank you, Bowie, for the miles and wiggles

It's an overused phrase, but our kids really do grow up so fast. Pax is writing in cursive, solving division problems, and beating me in chess. It's only a matter of time before he starts leaving me in the dust in running, too.

I see this bright and energetic child, and often wonder if I'm fighting a losing battle against screens. But then we have days, and now runs, where deep down I know he is going to be just fine.

So many of us have ruined sports for our children by pushing them way too hard. But if you give them a little nudge, you just might be surprised at how fast they'll jump at the opportunity to play, or run, with you.

Results: Waynesboro teen tops female field at 5K

Waynesboro's Kylie Bere was the top female and one of seven Franklin/Washington County runners to grab Top 10 spots at the University Spirit Run 5K in Hagerstown.

Bere, 16, posted a 21:47 to finish second overall, while the Top 10 was rounded out by Greencastle's Steve Hyne (22:24), Hagerstown's Bradley Reed (25:13), Melissa Fountain (25:56), and Ben Fickes (27:28), Boonsboro's Joel Seabright (26:57) and Williamsport's Heather Wetzel (28:44).

Other local finishers at the race include Greencastle's Robin Blair (30:15), Hagerstown's Bernard Oberg (31:16), Emily Sottile (32:43), David Harman (32:54), Lisa Shroyer (35:27), LaMar Shroyer (35:27), and Katherine Clark (42:33), Chambersburg's Colleen Scott (34:43), and Smithsburg's Joshua Ampong (43:24).

Chambersburg’s Ryan Kaczmark and Rick Myers are all smiles after nailing down AG awards at the Spartan Ultra Beast race in Killington, Vt.

Shippensburg's Ed Boardman was the fastest area runner at the Harrisburg Half Marathon, clocking a 1:27:02 to win the 40-44 AG. Boardman was followed by Shippensburg's Harrison Hipple (1:32:08), Hagerstown's Lauren Cramer (1:35:48), Chambersburg's Amy Colli (1:47:54), Marshay Ryan (1:50:07), and Larry Ryan (1:51:23), and Fayetteville's Abigail Zychal (1:54:27).

The Big Savage Half Marathon in Meyersdale was attended by a handful of Franklin County runners, none faster than Dr. Stephen Bui of Waynesboro, who logged a 1:46:23 to finish fourth overall. He was joined at the finish line by Chambersburg's Craig Leisher (2:01:20) and Waynesboro's Jeffrey Hein (2:05:46) and Deborah Swope (3:15:39).

The Luray Half Marathon featured a sparkling finish in 1:26:46 from Waynesboro's Clayton Smith, who finished fourth overall in 1:26:46. Hagerstown's Will Marquiss (1:34:17, 2nd in 50-59 AG), Jana Fridrichova (1:38:22, 1st in 40-49 AG), Robert Moore (1:48:46), and Greencastle's Amanda Himmelwright (2:28:51) also logged race finishes.

Waynesboro’s Jeffrey Hein, Stephen Bui, and Deborah Swope pose for a photo at the Big Savage Half Marathon in Meyersdale. Bui was the fourth overall finisher in 1:46:23.

Just in case your not tired of hearing about half marathons, let's move to the race in Bird-in-Hand, where Greencastle's Matthew Smith led the way for locals with a 1:33:26. Chambersburg's Larry Smith posted a 1:51:23 to take second in the 65-69 AG, while other finishers included Greencastle's Andrew Haldeman (1:59:28), Chambersburg's Mark Ward (1:58:28), and Orrstown's Katlyn McKee (2:01:59).

Hagerstown's Walker Mason was the fastest youth runner, and one of the fastest runners overall, at the Frederick Market Street Mile. Mason, 13, captured first place in the youth race with a 5:24. The mens' division featured finishes from Jeff Fox (6:51) and Bruce Attavian (7:25), while Smithsburg's Joanna Main (9:48) was a finisher in the womens' race.

Chambersburg Fitness Center's "Team 212" continued their tear through the Spartan circuit with several top finishes at events in Killington, Vt. and Washington, D.C. In Killington, Ryan Kaczmark (11:20:10) and Rick Myers (13:10:58) each survived the Ultra Beast, with Kaczmark finishing second in his AG and Myers taking third. Chris Anne Beardslee-Myers logged a 1:23:15 to win her AG in the Killington Sprint.

The Spartan DC Stadion included finishes from Eric Guyer (35:51, 2nd in AG) and Stacy Coover (40:59, 3rd in AG).

A handful of other locals were involved in races across the region, including Hagerstown's Casey Osborne (2:36:39 at Run for Autism Labor Day Half Marathon), Greencastle's Andrew Martinez (6:07:03 at Pine Creek Marathon), Shippensburg's Chasity Force (6:07:07 at Pine Creek Marathon), and Chambersburg's Shawn Coldsmith (25:27 at Bird-in-Hand 5K).

Upcoming running events in the area

HYP 5-Miler: Saturday, 8:30 a.m., in Harrisburg. Run five miles for five charities at this race, which runs along Riverfront Park. Find the race at

Chambersburg YMCA Sprint Triathlon: Saturday, Sept. 25, 8 a.m., in Chambersburg. Swim, bike, and run your way to glory at this event. Find more info at

York White Rose Run 5-Miler: Saturday, Sept. 25, 8 a.m., in York. Challenge yourself in the 44th running of this race, which runs mostly through the city of York. Register for the race at

Also: emPOWERed OCR at Clipper Magazine Stadium 3M Obstacle Run (Friday, in Lancaster); Boulder Beast 24-Mile/25K (Saturday, in Lock Haven); CSY 5K Fall Paws Classic (Saturday, in York); Got the Nerve Triathlon (Saturday, in Lewisberry); Boulder Beast 24-Miler (Saturday, in Lock Haven); Rock 'N The Knob Marathon (Saturday, in Claysburg); Wings of Kindness Wildcat 5K (Saturday, in Millerstown); York YMCA Kids Triathlon (Saturday, in York); Boston Harvest Half Marathon (Sunday, in Boston); Forever Friends Memorial Run (Sunday, in Myerstown); Hands-on House Race (Saturday, Sept. 25, in Lancaster); Lancaster Trail Junction 5K/10K (Saturday, Sept. 25, in Lancaster); Roof Park 5K/10K (Saturday, Sept. 25, in New Cumberland); Hershey Miracle 5K (Saturday, Sept. 25, in Harrisburg); Trails 4 Tails 40 Miler (Saturday, Sept. 25, in Hanover); Water Gap 50K (Saturday, Sept. 25, in Milford); Worlds End Fall Classic Half Marathon (Saturday, Sept. 25, in Forksville); HEAL Color Splash 5K (Saturday, Sept. 25, in Hagerstown, Md.); Ironmaster's Challenge 50K (Sunday, Sept. 26, in Gardners); The Dam Half (Sunday, Sept. 26, in Mifflinburg); Linganore Winecellars Cross Country Classic (Sunday, Sept. 26, in Bel Air, Md.).