When we are younger, running is something we do without thinking. As soon as we can walk, we’re trying to waddle as fast as we can just to reach the next piece of furniture we can grab. When we’re old enough to play sports, we’re used to sprinting up and down fields and courts every weekend. We skip to the bus stop, chase our siblings around the yard and give our parents a workout as they try to tire us out before bedtime. If your child has expressed an interest in running more regularly or you want to try to include them in your workout routine, there are a couple of great ways to introduce him or her to the sport of running while still maintaining that innocent love of running around the backyard.
1. Make running time special.
Plan regular weekly or monthly runs with your kids as a way to have one-on-one time with Mom or Dad. Use it as a time to talk, bond over the ups and downs of running, and goof off! Show that you are excited to run each time and make it something to look forward to for everyone involved. Perhaps let your child pick a new route for each time; running is a great excuse to go exploring!
2. Incorporate games and challenges.
Encourage your kids to keep running and practice speeding up without adding pressure. Play games along the way such as running as fast as you can to the next telephone pole, mailbox or tree before taking a walking break. Play I Spy as you go. Keep track of all the animals or the colors of the cars you see. Adding fun to each run will keep you and your child on your toes and prevent running from becoming a chore.
3. Join a running group.
Check if your child’s school or local recreational council has a running group. Depending on your child’s age, there may be opportunities to join a team. Cockeysville is home to the Mighty Milers, a group that gives kids ages eight to 12 the chance to run together four times a week and race three 5Ks throughout the fall season. If you want to be more involved, ask the group’s leader if there are opportunities for you to run with the group or volunteer at activities.
4. Track progress and acknowledge achievements.
Congratulate your child each time he or she reaches a running milestone. That could be running a mile without stopping, improving his or her sprint time or overcoming a large hill. If your kid likes to visually track progress, make a chart that reflects these accomplishments. There is no need to shell out big prizes, praise and acknowledgment from you and your family is reward enough!
5. Participate in fun races.
There are tons of local opportunities to race with your child! Depending on your kid’s age and ability, check out 5Ks, one mile fun runs and other shorter distances. Charm City Run hosts a six race kids cross country series in the fall for children ages 12 and under. All participants earn ribbons at the finish and races range from a quarter mile to a mile in length according to age group.
However you decide to encourage your kids to run, keeping it fun for everyone is the most important part! Have other great ideas that have worked with your kids? Share them with us in the comments below.
About the Author: Lizzy Peper
Lizzy is the Marketing Coordinator for Charm City Run. Previously she worked as a part time Sales Associate for two years in the Timonium store. Lizzy ran competitively as a member of the cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams at Towson High School and Marist College. She co-captained the Division I Marist women's cross country team in 2015 and graduated in 2016 with a degree in Communication and a concentration in Public Relations.