Encouraging Kids to Run
Here’s one thing kids want to do: the exact opposite of what you tell them. It’s probably why they drag their heels through “organized” running in gym class but sprint around the playground like banshee warriors. So the best way to get kids psyched about running is to make them think it was all their idea. Use that youthful energy and enthusiasm to foster a love of healthy activity.
Focus on progress and participation, not pace. Your kid may or may not be the next Kara Goucher, but the goal of early running should never be speed or distance. Every time she gets out there, consider it a victory and treat it as such. Whether you’re doing a jog-and-walk combination around the neighborhood, hitting a track or running on the field at the park, encourage your child to dial in to her breathing, the way her muscles feel, and keeping a steady rhythm. Let her set the distance and pace. The more she runs, the easier it will feel and the more fun it will be.
Get others involved. What kid doesn’t like playing with friends? If you can, team up with other parents and round up the neighborhood kids for running dates. You can organize relays, games of tag and other activities that make being active feel more like recess than homework.
Be positive about your own running. If you come home whining that you couldn’t hit your tempo pace and that running is the worst and you hate everything, your kid is going to pick up on your negative head space and apply it to running in general. We all have bad runs, but try to shake them off and leave them behind. Adopt an “any run is better than no run” mentality (unless you’re injured, in which case no run actually is better than any run).
Set a goal together. Find a local 5k, Color Run or family event to train for with your child. This will give you both something concrete to look forward to and provide extra motivation to get out the door. Keep the distance short and the pace casual, and encourage walking breaks when necessary. Make sure to celebrate completing the event!