I'm not alone in wanting my kids to catch running fever. Local races often include a kids' fun run, and at almost every starting line you'll most likely see kids of all ages. When your child is ready to run a 5K for the first time, here are some tips to help you pass the running baton.
Start Small1 of 7
Just like you wouldn't want to run a marathon as your very first race, children should build up to longer distances over time. Start with the kiddie dashes and build up to a one-mile fun run. When they're ready, go for the 5K.
Make It a Family Affair2 of 7
When everyone is involved, the race experience becomes more fun. Gather the whole family together—you can even bring the dog along if pets are permitted! Just be sure to line up in the back of the group at the starting line if Rover is running, too.
Run a Little, Walk a Little, Skip a Little3 of 7
When kids (or grown-ups) are starting out, walking is a great way to allow for little breaks along the way so that running doesn't become overwhelming. Make it a game: Run to the mailbox, walk to the driveway and then skip to the corner.
Run Your Own Race4 of 7
The rule applies to adults and kids alike: Don't compare yourself to what others are doing. Pointing out that other kids are faster, farther ahead or not walking as much will only cause your child to want to stop.
Be a Cheerleader5 of 7
Shower your child with praise during the race and at the finish line, too. Be an encourager, not a pusher.
Keep It Fun6 of 7
Let the kids lead or follow, let them be silly or run while making funny faces—whatever they need to do to keep it fun. When it stops being fun, that's when you'll lose the allure of running.
When the main goal is to have fun in a race, I believe that any child, regardless of age, can get out there and run a 5K. No pace goals, no set time—just pure running fun.