If you’re following along, we at Running Family Style have dedicated a couple of posts to strategies for getting your kids, and yourselves, dear Parents, on the road to running. This is the third instalment, so if you’re just joining, you might want to hop back a few posts and check out the Top 10 List…
4. Change up the route so it doesn’t become boring. The best thing about running is that you can do it anywhere. (Use common sense regarding safety, of course. Running on busy streets without sidewalks is not the best option.) Take your little runner to a park, on a wooded trail, through the city, or even reverse the direction of the route to keep it from getting stale. Even if you have a favorite running route, it is worthwhile making some changes to keep it interesting. My favorite tool for mapping running routes, around Halifax or wherever we happen to be traveling, is GMap Pedometer (http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/). This tool allows you to map routes; calculate distance, pace, and calorie burn; and track your runs on a workout log. Madison loves to use the application to plan runs and check distances for the Running Club at school.
5. Encourage your child to join a running club at school or in the community. If your school doesn’t have a running club, get a group of parents and school administrators involved in starting one. Begin with the Phys. Ed. teacher. He or she will usually be your biggest ally in getting kids fit and active. Some communities also have running groups for kids outside of school, with regular sponsored events. At our daughters’ school, the Running Club has become quite popular. Some of the kids are more focused and competitive than others, but they’re all running. They meet once a week after school and run around the perimeter of a historic Halifax cemetery. They run at their own pace, and the Principal and Phys. Ed. teacher track the total laps (conveniently 1 km). The goal this school year was to collectively run enough laps to “climb Mount Everest”.
6. Participate in running activities and events as a family. Many larger races also have kids’ events. These are usually shorter distance “fun runs” – from a couple hundred meters to 5K. Set training goals with your child to ensure that he or she is well prepared. Encourage participation versus competition. Some kids are competitive by nature, but others are not. Encourage children to pursue personal bests, not to beat their friends. At this early stage of their running careers, children need to know that participation and fitness are the most important things, and that it feels great to have completed a race, especially if there is a medal at the end! If you’re new to running, there’s nothing like a Family 5K to get the family on track. Most even welcome strollers.
If you happen to be a “destination runner”, look for races with kids’ events when planning your next “runcation”. When we started running, our first race was the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Madison and Gabrielle asked to run the Mickey Mile kids’ race. They loved all the hype, the medal, the T-Shirt and the experience. When we run, they always want to participate. Madison will run her first 10K on Sunday at the Bluenose Marathon with Lisa. Gabrielle will run the Doctors Nova Scotia Kids’ Race with her school.
Stay tuned for the 4th and final instalment of Get Your Kids Running and all the Bluenose Highlights!
Mark & Lisa