I’m a runner. I love to run. I want to share that love with my kids. The first time my son and daughter asked to run with me, I was ecstatic. And when they wanted to actually run a race? If I could do a back handspring, I would have. It was almost two years ago that they made my Mother’s Day wish come true when the whole family jumped into a 5k race.
Back then we had our B.O.B running stroller with us so the kids could easily jump in and out whenever they got tired. But the B.O.B. is long gone. We missed out on a Mother’s Day race last year because of my foot injury. Now that I’m running again, I’d love to run with them again. Over the weekend, I brought up the Mother’s Day race. Did the kid’s want to run it this year?
My son was all in with a YAYYYYYYYY!!!!!
My daughter was in with a YAYYYYYYY but…I’ll probably get tired.
I assured her that it was all good. We’ve got 5 weeks to up our run/walk game so we’d be ready to go race day. That’s all it took to convince her. She was in!
I’m not alone in wanting my kids to catch the running fever. Go to almost any local race and you are sure to find a kids’ fun run. Or you’ll find a kid from any age group lined up right next to you at the starting line. There’s usually two scenarios about how it usually goes down after the gun goes off – They’ll either proceed to put all their effort and energy to sprinting the first 1/4 mile before they slow to a walk or they’ll blow past you and you’ll never see them again. Either way, it’s really fun to see!
So when is your child ready to run for fun or in an actual race? Here are some tips on when it’s time to pass the running baton to your kids.
Start small. Don’t plan to go any long distance. Run around the block. Run to the park that is 1/2 mile away. Keep the distance low. If you want to jump into a race, the same applies. Just like you wouldn’t want to run a marathon as your first running race, children should build up to a longer distance. Start with the kiddie dashes, build up to the one mile fun run, and when ready go for the 5k. Or do like we did by bringing the running stroller along for running breaks.
Make it a family affair. When everyone is involved it becomes more fun. You could even bring the dog along for some exercise.
Run a little, walk a little, skip a little. When starting out, walking is a great way to allow for little breaks so that running is not overwhelming. Make it a game – Run to the mailbox, walk to the driveway, skip to the corner. Do not make the child feel guilty for walking.
Run your own race. It’s a rule for adults and kids – don’t compare yourself to what others are doing. Pointing out that other kids are faster, farther ahead, not walking, etc. will only cause your child to want to stop.
KEEP IT FUN. Let the kids lead, let them be silly or run funny, whatever they need to do to keep it fun! When its stops being fun, that’s when you’ll lose them completely. You don’t want them to hate running. No pace goals. No set time. Just pure running fun. That hopefully will set up your child for a lifetime love of running.
And totally unrelated to running with kids, but I wanted to share a cool infographic and article that Runners Connect just released. Very surprising findings on negative vs. positive splits. Check it out!
Do you run with your kids?
Is it your Mother’s/Father’s Day wish to run a race with them?