Kids are natural born runners – our bodies are literally designed for the task – but there are important steps to take to introduce running effectively.
Here are 8 tips that will help you pass on your love to run.
Tip One: Set a great example
Your children will be watching you in everything that you do. Therefore, by regularly running you will show your kids what a positive impact it has on your health and your happiness. If they see it as a part of your everyday routine they will perceive it to be a normal part of life, rather than something to endure once your fitness has declined or you need to lose weight.
Tip Two: Take it steady
Kids’ bodies are not fully developed and long runs can do damage to joints. Running long distances puts some stress on our bodies that our children are not yet adapted to withstand. You need to choose age-appropriate distances and terrains and make sure kids get rest days between runs.
Tip Three: Find a way to inject some fun
If you watch children in a playground, you will see that they can run and run forever when playing the games that they love. Whether it is a game of tag or racing each other from one end to the other – children can seem to be able to keep going. So, when taking your children on a run with you find a way to inject competition or imagination, which will bring the run to life
Tip Four: Help them pace their run
Kids will charge off at a thousand miles an hour and then be out of breath and exhausted within a kilometer. Train children to start a run at half the pace they think they can go and when they get to half way, if they feel like it, they can go to full pace then. Give children clear marker points to help them know where they have to get to and when they might be able to up their pace.
Tip Five: Keep it positive
It is easy to discourage children by making running a punishment or by pointing out how they have failed in some way to meet your expectation. If the child has managed to meet a distance, no matter how slow, or finished the run feeling happy and energetic – give them the praise they deserve for their efforts. Even if they fall a little short somehow – point out what they did manage and not what they didn’t.
Tip Six: Kit them up
Make sure, if your child is serious, that you invest in some proper gear for the task of running. Help them to feel the part with the right athletic kit. So, get them sweat-wicking, lightweight clothing and shoes designed for running – and not just trainers they would wear all the time.
Tip Seven: Show them the importance of fuel
Teach your children early on how your body is like a car and can only run if it has food and water to act as fuel for the energy being used. You can demonstrate this through your best practice when running and by providing energy foods that will feel like treats but are actually ways of injecting healthy calories into your child after a run.
Tip Eight: Don’t stress it if they won’t
If you try to encourage your child to run and they just won’t – well – you are just going to have to get over the fact they don’t share your love to run. Push it and you will push them away further. One day they may surprise you and ask to run with you – until then – shrug and be philosophical!