My children have been run in a few 5Ks over the past couple of years. Up until now a little running leading up to the races and then the race itself is all they have really been interested in doing. I thought the fact that they even wanted to do the 5Ks was awesome.
About a month ago as I walked my kids home from school my son asked if I would run a mile with him. Of course I said yes. I had a blast running the mile with him. We went at the pace he dictated and walked when he wanted. As we walked into the house he asked if we could run another mile after he finished his homework. You could have knocked me over with a feather, I said yes again, of course, and when he was done with his school assignments we ran. for the rest of the week as we walked home from school he asked if we could run a mile and some days we did 2.
Honestly I thought his interest in running would be short lived but it hasn’t been. If anything it has increased. We started to increase our run/walks to 2.5 miles (because he wanted to) and I make sure on some days he rests. He would probably run everyday if I let him but I want to make sure he doesn’t get hurt by adding too much running in to soon.
Like many of us he is excited about accomplishing some running goals. The more we run together the loftier his goals become. After just one week of running he went from feeling like one of the slow kids at school to thinking that if he keeps running with me he can become one of the fast kids and run track when he gets to high school.
This past weekend me, my husband and two kids went out for a 3 mile run. After we all ran 3 miles together my husband and I were going to run an additional 2 miles around the track while the kids played. As we began running my son asked if he could keep running and my answer was “of course, if you want to”. He said he wanted to keep running until he was to tired to run anymore. I thought maybe he would last another lap or 2.
We reached 4 miles total and I was sure he would stop, he has never run more than a 5K in one go. He said he wanted to keep going all the way to 5. He did it. The distance was quite an accomplishment, he was beaming when he was done and I was too. As he was completing the fifth mile he started talking about running a 10K with me and told me he would like to do a long run on Sundays. So that when he runs his spring 5K the mileage feels easy. Even more amazing was that on Monday he wanted to run again, but I told him he should take a rest day after running his longest run ever.
It has been great watching his love of running grow and I am interested to see where running will take him. One of the things I am happiest about is that his running was his own idea and something that he decided he wanted to do. I believe that this is really important. As parent we should encourage our kids to do healthy, active and positive things but not force them to do the same sports that they are involved in or were involved in.
If your kids are showing an interest in running here are a couple of tips to get started. Take it slow, don’t expect your kid to go out and run a 5K the first time you are out. Depending on the age of your child maybe even just do a half mile. Try using the run/walk method. Kids tend to run full out when they first start so taking walking breaks until they can find the right pacing can make the run feel easier and more enjoyable. When the are ready sign them up for a race. Start out with a kids K or a 1 mile race. If they like the shorter races and show an interest in doing a 5K then sign them up for one and run it with them, at their pace. My kids have expressed that having me running with them made the race feel easier. Most importantly make sure they are having fun!
“Encourage kids to enjoy running and play in athletics. Don’t force them to run too much competition.”~Arthur Lydiard
I have great memories of running with my children and hope to continue making new ones.