We’ve recently started running with our children. As we approached this, we knew it wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be approached the same way that we had approached our own running. Little bodies are different from adult bodies.
We wanted to make sure that the emphasis was on fun, not competition and distance, and we didn’t want to hurt their muscles, joints and bones, doing what should, ideally, be a fun time together.
I researched various things: shoes, clothing, running form/style, distance (is it safe for kids to run 5ks?), how often… Any and everything.
In hopes that more of you might be encouraged to try this out, I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned, and in my next post, I will share some of my favorite links on this topic.
Consider Some Benefits of Childhood Running
Before you close this page, and deem it irrelevant, consider that there are many benefits to running with your child. *
Running is not only good for the body, it’s also great for the mind. Creativity has been shown to increase post-run.
If your child is overly-competitive, or if you are trying to teach your child to not fall into the trap of comparing himself to others (read: improve self-esteem and confidence), running allows children to learn to work with a team, but mainly, to shoot for their own personal bests (aka: Personal Records, or PRs).
Running can help improve coordination, especially when trail running is added to the mix.
Running does not cost a lot. Unlike other sports, running only requires proper footwear and clothing for the elements.
Running as a family helps develop self-discipline. Who wants to be the one who tells the family ‘no’. (Be prepared for the occasional digging in of the heels, but use it as a lesson on how one person affects the entire family)
Things to Keep In Mind
Mix it up. Run some, walk some. Change your location, terrain and scenery. Run at the track. Run along a trail. Do speed times one day. Distance, at a slow pace, another.
Don’t run in Bob the Builder Sneakers. Try to purchase some shoes with good support.
Keep it fun. It’s not supposed to be torture. Keep it light and happy – talk about your day. Figure out math and time. Just ‘be‘ together.
Don’t push your child beyond what they can do. You know your child. There can be a fine line between encouraging to go a bit further, and going too far.
Running races is not always in the best interest of young children. Consider the emotional well-being (how do they handle competition, and the need to be first or win)
In the same premise, increase distance with age. But still be sensitive to maturity, both physically and emotionally.
Already mentioned, but it can’t be emphasized enough: have fun. Your child should not be behind you sobbing. Be encouraging. Help him to go a bit further each time. Talk about the day. See it as a time to connect and bond.
*Note: Please consult with your child’s doctor prior to starting any running program with them, most certainly, if your child has any known health issues.