Five Seasons Family Sports Club Blog

Tips for Introducing Your Children to Running

Posted by Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 3/28/17 9:00 AM

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Most children are no strangers to physical activity, but if you're trying to introduce them to running in particular, how exactly do you do it? Below are some simple tips to help you encourage your kids to develop their own healthy connection with running. 

1. Set the example.

It's no mystery that children pay much more attention to what you do than what you say. If they see you regularly going for runs week in and week out, they will begin to view it as a completely normal, positive activity that helps keep mommy or daddy healthy. If they're like most children, they're going to want to emulate what they see you doing anyway, so don't be surprised if they want to start joining you on your runs! 

2. Start them off slow.

Many experts recommend addressing any concerns or questions with your child's pediatrician before they go on their first run. Once you've got the "all-clear," ease them into running by starting off at a slower pace, and stick to an age-appropriate distance. For example, if you normally run four laps around the neighborhood, try letting your child run a half a lap with you to get their body acclimated to the various demands that running will place on their little muscles and bones. 

3. Teach them how to pace themselves.

Children are inherently impulsive, and more often than not, they're going to want to break out into a full sprint on their first run (or two). They don't really have a concept of how easy it is to burn out when you're running at full speed over a decent distance, so they will definitely need to learn about pacing. This could mean that you start off by alternating between running and walking, or just teaching them how to go slower than they feel like they can for the sake of conserving their energy over a longer distance. While starting off slow will probably not be very exciting for them, just explain that it will help them run a longer distance before they get tired.

4. Provide adequate nutrition.

Your kids will definitely need to drink plenty of water before and after their run, and it's not a bad idea to fuel them up with a quality snack before they hit the pavement as well, such as an apple, banana or even some trail mix. This will ensure that they'll make up for the calories they're going to burn, and that they'll be able to stay hydrated and healthy. 

5. Make running fun!

The unwritten rule of "Kid World" is that if it's not fun, they're not going to want to do it. This means that if you want your kids to develop a lifelong love for running, you're going to have to make it fun. This isn't that hard to do, as you can incorporate running into all kinds of games to make it seem no different than their usual playtime. You could set up a scavenger hunt run at a local park, conduct a relay race, play freeze tag in a nice open area, etc. – practically any activity that involves running can be used to acclimate your child to running longer distances. 

6. Encouragement is the name of the game.

If you want to take the wind out of your child's sails really quickly, start pointing out everything they're doing wrong and then criticize them for it. If you want your child to develop a healthy connection with running, be willing to acknowledge every milestone they hit, and highlight their strengths with encouraging words. 

The tips outlined above will help your child view running in a positive light, which can go a long way towards helping them develop healthy habits. Who knows – your investment into your child's life now might mean that one day they'll develop into a full-fledged running partner!

Take the challenge for a fitter, healthier you!

Topics: Healthy Living

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