So you’re a runner and a parent, and of course you want the best for your kids. You want them to be healthy, and you want them to play and have fun. Depending on their interests, that may or may not mean that they’ll become runners like you. If they do decide to run, here are a few tips to keep them happy, healthy and excited about a sport that can quite possibly grant them a lifetime of enjoyment.
Make It Playful
With young kids, it’s best to keep things light. No structured runs, and of course no training plans or goals. An afternoon at the park is often the best running workout a young child can have. At this point in their lives, their bodies and minds aren’t ready for running as a dedicated activity, so focus on keeping them active, happy and running around naturally.
Find A Middle Ground
We’re all well aware of the childhood obesity issue in the U.S. Kids need to eat well and stay active to avoid becoming overweight and grow into healthy adults. But there is such a thing as too much exercise. A structured training plan for any child below middle school age can often have the negative effects of boredom (and therefore less exercise overall) and injury due to the repetitive motion of running (as opposed to playing a game with more lateral movement). So be sure to keep an eye on the activity level of your child, and strive to find a healthy balance.
Keep It Varied
Even in their middle school and high school years, kids who run track and cross-country can easily become burnt out or injured. This is when things start to get faster, more competitive and more serious, and many young athletes feel the pressure to perform. Encourage your child to live a balanced lifestyle by participating in other sports and extracurricular activities rather than running year-round. No matter what, keep them focused on having fun and making the most of their early running years so they’ll have great memories to lack back on for motivation heading into the future.
Is your child ready for their first race? Learn more about our 1/4 mile Fun Run and 5K, both taking place at the half-marathon finish line in Shell Beach. Every young racer will receive an official race bib as well as finisher’s medals.