Long Distance Running Tips for Kids


I'm a runner. I love to run and I want to share that love with my kids. The first time my son and daughter asked to run with me, I was ecstatic. And when they wanted to actually run a race? If I could do a back handspring, I would have.

I'm not alone in wanting my kids to catch the running fever. Go to almost any local race and you're sure to find a kids' fun run. Or you'll find a kid from any age group lined up next to you at the starting line. 

There are usually two ways it goes down after the gun goes off—the kid will either proceed to put all their effort and energy into sprinting the first quarter mile before they slow to a walk or they'll blow past you and you'll never see them again. Either way, it's always fun to see.

As your child grows, the fun runs and the 5Ks may not be enough for them anymore. So what do you do when your child is ready to run longer distances like a 10K or half marathon? 

Start Small

Don't do too much too soon. Make it a gradual increase in miles over an extended period of time. Maybe add a quarter- or half-mile more to a run each week. 

Follow a Plan

Make sure your child is following a supervised training plan that emphasizes fun and participation, not how fast or how long he or she is running. 

Train Smart

Soreness is part of running, but pain is not. Remind your child not to run or race with an injury or lingering pain. 

Make it a Family Affair

When everyone is involved running becomes more fun. You could even bring the dog along for some exercise.

Stay Healthy

Good nutrition and quality sleep are important habits for children and adult runners alike. Make sure your child maintains a normal growth in height and weight while training. 

Run Your Own Race

It's a rule adults and kids should adhere to: Don't compare yourself to what others are doing. Pointing out that other kids are faster, farther ahead, running longer, not walking, etc., will only make your child want to stop.

Keep it Fun 

Let the kids lead, be silly or run funny; whatever they need to do to keep it fun. When running stops being fun, you'll lose them completely. You don't want them to hate running. 

No pace goals, no set time; just pure running fun. That will hopefully set up your child for a lifetime love of running.

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