Five Tips for Parenting Little Long-Distance Runners
Long-distance running is a great activity for kids. If your child enjoys running, keep them encouraged. Don’t let them run nowhere fast! Help them become long-distance runners who can’t wait to participate in the next 5K. Here’s how to help them put their best foot forward:
1. Make Training Fun and Lifestyle Oriented
Kids are kids so help your little runners have fun. They don’t have to train with "results" in mind. Their training should give them a good workout, make them feel good, and be enjoyable. Training isn’t just about getting them to run. It’s about waking up early, eating healthy breakfasts, stretching and warming up, and learning proper hydration for the long haul.
2. Gear-up For Success
Kids don’t think about gear like adults (half the time, they don’t even remember to put on socks). But if we invest in the right attire, we will foster their love of running and set them up for success. Fortunately, it’s a worthy investment because running gear is optimal for all sorts of lifestyle activities. Running shoes are a must! Make sure they provide a good fit and traction for varying terrain. You’ll also want to get a windbreaker. The good thing about windbreakers is they are not too cumbersome and they are super helpful for unexpected rainy or chilly conditions. Shop around for good shorts and running tights. Comfort is a must.
3. Positive Attitudes are the Best Reward
Teach your child that "running to win" is not always about beating the competition. Finishing a long distance race is an accomplishment no matter what. Tell them "good job" and "I’m so proud of your accomplishment" after a race. Focus on personal goals. Doing it because they love being active and seeing self improvement is more important than competing for the podium. Positivity is healthy all-around and does the mind as good as running does for the body.
4. Go the Distance with your Kid
Preparing for a 5K doesn’t mean your child has to be running all the time to condition for it. Long walks and hikes are another great way to train. Go together for family time surrounded by the beauty of creation!
5. Unleash the Mind
Running outdoors brings with it great peace and a chance to be more mindful. Teach your child out on the trail that outdoor time is more than good for the body. It’s good for the mind too. Clearing the clutter from one’s own mind while running along the river, with the mountains and forests in sight, is an exercise in and of itself. Plus, you can learn even more about the world around you when you make a game of it like seeing how many deciduous trees you can find or keeping track of the wildlife you see.
Becoming a runner and racing to the finish reveals a child's daily victories in becoming more in touch with their own self improvement. By enduring the long-haul, running provides a discipline that improves all aspects of life!