No parent wants a kid that's a couch potato. This does not bode well for health and fitness now or in the future. If you enjoy running, you might be keen to get kids to join you. How can you do this in a way that helps them learn to love running as much as you? Here are a few tips to get started.
You know that you can't just jump into running a marathon - you have to train for it so that you can optimize performance and avoid injury. Even if you've been running for a while, you have to compensate when kids join you by scaling back to a level where they can participate.
It's important to be cognizant of physical limitations. Most kids can run circles around their parents due to the stamina of youth. However, if you're a seasoned runner, it's not unreasonable to assume that you could outstrip your kids, especially those that have to work twice as hard to go the same distance because their legs and stride are half the length of yours.
In some cases, kids have led relatively sedentary lives, and your push to get them running is intended to reduce weight, improve health, and so on. It is extremely important that you not push your kids too hard and risk injury. You must behave in a responsible manner when it comes to the health and well-being of your children.
By that token, you should also consider the psychological ramifications of running. This activity has the capacity to make practitioners feel fantastic, physically and mentally. In keeping with this, you should make sure to praise the efforts of your children, or perhaps even set up a system of challenges and rewards to work toward. If you browbeat your child and criticize performance, you could end up doing more harm than good.
Kids are content to run in the same clothing and sneakers they wear to school, but because this is a high-intensity, high-impact activity, you need to take the same care in selecting gear for your kids as you do for yourself. This means investing in running shoes and purchasing tops, running shorts/pants, and even underwear and socks designed to wick away moisture and prevent chafing.
Don't forget about extras like broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sport sunblock to protect against sunburn, sport sunglasses, and even running belts designed to carry water, just for example (unless you plan to carry water for everyone, or you've planned a route that features water fountains).
Sure, you can hit the trail and see what happens, but with kids in tow, it's always better to have a plan in place. For one thing, there's pacing to consider. You have to teach kids how to pace themselves, or risk injury or exhaustion.
There are plenty of mobile apps and even wearable devices (smartwatches) that can track distance, speed, time, and so on while you run. Use these to pace yourself so that you don't accidentally overwork your kids. Over time, you could set a schedule that works to incrementally increase speed and/or distance.
Make sure to keep a close eye on kids throughout running sessions and make note of their breathing and form to track when they're pushing too hard or getting tired. Take breaks as needed and instruct kids to inform you if they feel any pain so you can check it out.
As an adult, with a focus on specific goals, you can push yourself to keep running even if the activity sometimes feels more like a chore than the high point of your day. Kids, however, can easily get bored and frustrated, especially when learning proper form, pacing, and other fundamentals of the activity.
How can you make it fun? There are several ways:
All of your preparations only help to ensure that kids learn how to run properly, develop a love of the activity, and have fun with their fitness routine.