Introduce Kids In To Running
We’re in an age where there aren’t nearly enough adults that take physical fitness seriously, and those values or lack thereof are passed down to their children. You reasonably want to prepare your child to run, jog, and sprint their way to success and a healthy lifestyle for years to come. You’ve come to the right place, because there are effective ways to introduce them to this lifestyle, and we’ve even included some bonus tips to help keep both of you in the right frame of mind to ensure this becomes a healthy habit, not a passing trend.
1. Explain The Benefits
Depending on the age of your children, open up the conversation with the benefits of running. Keep it simple, like “Running helps your heart stay healthy.” Scale the conversation depending on the age of the child. They’re not going to care about the in-depth medical benefits, so keep things pertinent to what they care about. Be honest while doing it, but keep the focus on how it will improve or maintain the way that they like to do things.
2. Always Make It Fun
Their lives focus around the notion of fun. Most of us likely schedule in running time, whether it’s in the morning before work, or in the evening before sundown. There’s some structure to it, but a child’s schedule, by nature, isn’t supposed to be heavily structured. Make it fun, spontaneous, and keep the mood light when you go for a run with your child.
You can make a race out of it, or incentivize them to finish the run with an excellent reward at the end of the week. Talk about landmarks that you like to run by, discuss their interests with them during the run, and show them some of the music that you listen to during your runs. By keeping it fun and fresh, they’re going to build healthy habits.
3. Don’t Make It Mandatory
“It’s Sunday, we have to go on a run this morning.” That’s like telling a child that they have to accompany you to the grocery store: it’s not going to go over well, and they’ll eventually build disdain towards the task.
You can schedule it with your child, but don’t strip away the fun by adopting a ride-or-die attitude with it. Maybe they want to hang out with their friends instead of running—let them. We generally don’t want to do things that we know we have to do. When they see running or physical fitness as a chore, their intrigue to explore other activities, running trails or sports will be stifled. Scheduling is okay, but be understanding when things come up.
Is your love of running centered around weight loss, the goal of achieving a certain peak of physical fitness, or did you also go on runs with your parents when you were younger? Regardless of what people often say, nobody in this world is more empathetic than a child. So long as you’re able to hold their attention and don’t turn a quick talk into a lengthy anecdote, you can inspire them in similar ways that you were inspired. Everyone has different things that interest them, so keep this in mind. Maybe you have a special connection with certain songs that you listen to on a run, or you go by a certain landmark for nostalgic reasons. Whatever it is, share it with your child, and show them that this is for more than just physical fitness.
5. Inspire Competition
While many people don’t think a competitive spirit is healthy, it most certainly is. Give them something to work up to, like a foot race with their siblings, a time attack on a certain running course where they can break old records, and work up from there. You’ll quickly be able to see if competition is something they’ll enjoy, or if it’s deterring them from enjoying the sport. Being competitive teaches your child that they can work hard, work smart, and do great things that possibly challenge the greatness of others, and running can give them the confidence to maintain that mindset.
A Few Takeaway Tips
1. Keep proper form in mind at all times: elbows on a 90-degree angle, hands held firmly but not in tight fists, and back straight.
2. Offer praise when they exceed their own expectations, and comfort if they do not. Don’t dismiss the idea of trying again, but let them know that everyone has their good days and bad days.
3. Lead by example. You know proper running form, so run in place or pace down the road, and show your child how to do it right.
4. Children feel fatigue sooner than we do during running, and their bodies heat up faster than ours, so don’t push their limits to where yours are.
It Start From The Ground Up
You wouldn’t tell someone to try being a professional baseball player and then hand them a stick, would you? Athleticism requires equipment, regardless of the category, and for runners they require a quality pair of running shoes. Start from the ground up with your ideals, your discussions and information that you tell your children, and literally start from the pair of shoes that’s going to give them the most comfort, support and agility while beginning their potential lifelong love for running. If your budget allows, avoid getting a “starter pair” of running shoes, because the quality (or lack thereof) can interfere with enjoyment and effectiveness, which might discourage your children rather than inspire them.