Some Helpful TipsWell, you’ve signed up your kids for the Princess Run or Little Dude Dash (or both!). You might be a runner yourself! No worries if you’re not. Running is really not that hard – the basic theory is this: fall forward and hope your feet catch up! As you learn more, there are form and techniques that can be used if your kid is interested in actually running further or faster, but running is as natural as laughing to most kids! Make it fun! Running can be a lifetime activity, so … as our friend Bart Yasso, The Mayor of Running and Chief Running Officer for Runner’s World Magazine always says, “Never limit where running can take you!” Good advice … thanks Mr. Mayor!
- Make Running Fun – Running is fun and it should be fun. Don’t punish kids by making them run. Encourage kids to participate, to use their imagination and help create running fun wherever you go!
- Running through the ages – How do kids develop in running? What should know about ‘helping’ kids with running? Well, it’s pretty simple and mostly common sense. Kids mature emotionally and physically at different rates, and so flexibility and enjoyment matter a great deal! Before puberty kids are always growing and changing. Excessive, systematic training may interfere with normal growth and cause injury in a child. Between the ages of 3 and 10, promote regular movement/exercise, which can include runs at an age appropriate level! Increase activity slowly and gradually, while keep the fun and creativity flowing! As they run more, the can learn a little more of good running form/technique.
- Kids 5 and under generally haven’t really even developed a running gait yet, so they shouldn’t run in any real programs. They should just run with joy, and with short attention spans (like many of us older kids have) they can just create some ‘fun runs’ on their own as a natural play habit. So, while doing the Princess Run or Little Dude Dash – short spurts of running with some walking, skipping or other fun forward movement is how to get through it! Don’t even think about time other than the time you are sharing with them having fun!
- Kids age 5 – 8 Yes, it is still all about the fun! Yes, there will be some running families where the kids want to ‘race’ the kids’ events. That’s fine as long as it is their choice and running is their love. Just keep the distances shorter. Princess Run and Little Dude Dash are perfect for this group. Remember to keep an eye on your kid for signs of discomfort and pain. “A child who says he or she is hurting or tired must be allowed to stop.” Bill Roberts, M.D., past president of the American College of Sports Medicine, has his own Happy Test. “How can you tell?” Smiles,” he says.
- Kids ages 9 – 12 These ages have more growth and maturity, so there are more training and running options for this age. Many kids look to the track and the mile or the 1500 meters as the ‘long’ event. Some have their eyes set on a 5K, again there is no ‘one size fits all’ and the individual kid and their goals come into play. Running smart is still encouraged, as the kids are still growing. Too much too soon can also lead to burnout. So be smart, learn all you can. Talk to youth coaches and other runners. Encourage other sports activities as well. Enjoyment and love of the sport is our first priority!
Some of the best running advice ever: Run with Joy! Run with Joy! Run with Joy! Happy running and thanks for helping your kids be all they can be! They are the most remarkable people on the planet! They grow up fast, so make these moments count. As the always wise and clever Dr. Seuss said, “I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.” Never take for granted the opportunity to spend time with a kid, this very moment matters! Oh, the possibilities …