In honor of Parenting Now’s annual Mother’s Day 5K, I’d like to share some of my favorite tips for getting kids active in the sport of running.
It is so wonderful to have the whole family at a race cheering, supporting, and showing what a healthy lifestyle can look like. Making running fun is the most important factor. When children have fun with an activity, they will continue doing it. Here are my tips for getting them involved and out there running with you:
- Set up a scavenger hunt or a playground obstacle course where the child will do better than the adult. Make it fun and just a little competitive. Add silly rewards for your child like “Mom has to do a burpee every time Sam completes the obstacle course.”
- Meet up with friends. Being with friends provides a sense of belonging and community—and besides, everything is more fun with a friend involved! When kids are doing things together, they are more likely to stick with it.
- Find a kid-friendly dash. Check the race calendars for kid dashes (usually 1Ks). They usually get a shirt and medal, which adds some extra excitement at the end and provides motivation to take on their next race. The Eugene Marathon offers a 1K for kids 4 and older.
- Take them on a trail walk/jog/climb through the woods. Stop and explore nature. Bring a picnic lunch and make an afternoon out of it.
- Find races in your area that are looking for volunteers. Finding volunteer opportunities in “Track Town USA” is fairly easy to do. You and your child could staff an aid station, hand out water cups, or help with post-race clean up. The kids will love being a part of the big event and it will give them a unique exposure to the sport of running—far better than watching it from the sidelines.
Always remember, it should be your child’s decision to run. Instead of encouraging or pushing them to run, create opportunities—like the ones listed above—for them to discover running. Happy running!
Annie Mills is the owner & lead instructor for Baby Boot Camp Eugene, OR.