All opinions are my own.
At three years old, I’ve noticed my son’s normal energetic levels have increased to “OMG, WHERE IS HE GETTING ALL THIS ENERGY!!” Seriously! He’s giving up naps and still can run around like a little mad man. I’m starting to realize more and more the need for him to get outside and burn that energy and wear himself out. It will make bedtime that much easier! This is why I’ve decided to get him into running. Even at his young age, running can quickly become a fun activity that goes beyond just racing around the playground.
Right now my focus is just for my son to find a fun activity where he can not only be active, but feel like he’s made an accomplishment. At older ages, kids will have running tests in school. While my son still has a few years to go, it’s not too early to start preparation!
Here are a few tips for how to get your child into running:
- Find a specific event to get your child excited about running. Look up “fun runs” in your area, or races that have a separates Kids Run. For instance, my town recently hosted a 10K Across the Bay. They offered a separate Kids 1K at the local football stadium for Kids. The promise of a medal feature a shark was what sold him on the idea!
- Don’t push them too hard. When you and your child go out for practice runs, let them lead you. Aiming for a running time, rather than distance. If your child is out of breath, it is okay if they walk. This helps build endurance.
- Which brings me to my next point of start slowly! Keep in mind that running for 5-10 minutes is much different for a child than it is for us. It might not seem like a long time for us grown-ups, but it certainly can feel like forever to a child. Gradually build up that time.
- Rewards! Create a progression chart. For instance, place a star or sticker on a calendar for every day that your child completes their run. When X amount of runs have been completed or your child reaches their time goal, treat them to a reward.
- Remember that specific event I mentioned in the first bullet? Be sure to celebrate afterward! For instance, after my son completed his first 1K, we had lunch at his favorite restaurant. It helped make the day even more special.
Now keep in mind, I’m not an expert. I’ve based the above tips off of running and practice runs with my own child. My tips are not that of a professional, but as a parent.
As I mentioned above, my son’s first race was the Clearshark Shark Sprint Kids 1K, as part of the 10K Across the Bay. We headed to the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for the fun event! Before we picked up his shirt and racing bib, he just had to check out the field and of course get a temporary tattoo (one of his favorites!)
Once we received his shirt and bib, we noticed on the sign for the race that his age group didn’t start for another 2 hours. Of course once he had his gear on he kept asking when the race was starting! Luckily there was a moon bounce, face painting, and a smoothie stand to help make the 2 hours before his race time go by quickly.
For his age group, which was 5 and under, the kids had to run around the football field just once. I loved how there was a big START sign and medals were handed out as the kids crossed the finish line just like the races this momma runs in! Because of his age, the 5 and under group required parents to run along with their kids. So yes, even I got a nice jog in that morning!
Big thanks to Anna Louise of Gracious Warrior Princess!! She was at the Race’s expo and so kindly came over to my son’s race to cheer him on and taken photos afterward. You can read here overall experience with the 10K Across the Bay race on her blog!