Athletics Magazine

Tips for Running With Your Kids (and Avoiding Meltdowns)

By Brisdon @shutuprun
You love running. You love your kids. The idea of running a race with your kids combines two of your passions and can only amount to an all-around wonderful experience.  You will spend the time together bonding while you run. You will take in the scenery, get some good exercise and cross the finish line holding hands and smiling. You will exchange high fives as your children look at you glowingly and with a sense of accomplishment.
Yeah, right.
Tips for Running With Your Kids (and Avoiding Meltdowns)
I have now run at least seven BolderBOULDER 10Ks with my kids. Some have gone smoothly and some have involved excessive whining and tears. This has taught me a lot about how to approach doing races with kids. While running with your family can be amazing, it is important to go into it eyes wide open and to keep your expectations relatively low. This is not to say you approach it as a Debbie Downer, but more that you have a healthy dose of realism as it pertains to how the miles might shake out.
Here are some things to consider:
      Does your child even want to do the race? Although I am a runner and think that running races is equivalent to the heavens opening up and the angels singing just for me – not everyone looks at it this way. If your child is going to make it through the 10K run, then it’s essential that they actually want to cross both the start and finish lines. Sure, you can nudge them in the right direction and tell them about all the perks, but ultimately, let it be their idea and their decision.
·        Is your child in shape to go the distance? Start discussing the possibility of doing the race months ahead. If they are on board, then make sure they do some training. Build up to the race distance slowly but surely. A good idea is to start with a run/walk program and gradually increase your run time and decrease your walk time.  Make a plan for race day – for example, that you will walk through all aid stations or that you will run five minutes, walk one. Whatever works for you and your kid(s). If your child is properly trained and knows what to expect, your day will go a lot smoother.
·       Make sure your goals don’t get in the way. This race should be about your child and not you. Maybe you can run a 10K in under an hour and you think your child can/should do that too. My best advice is to not set a time goal, especially if this is your first time running with your child. That just sets everyone up to fail. Instead, make the goal to finish strong, whatever that looks like.
·   Hold back at the start. With so many people doing this race, you will be waiting for your wave start for a while. You will be listening to the waves in front of you as they count down and begin running. The excitement and adrenaline builds and everyone is ready to go and to go fast when that gun goes off. Kids, in particular, do not usually do well at pacing themselves when the race starts. Make a plan ahead of time that you are going to start out casually and relatively slowly so that no one burns out too early. Most importantly, explain this concept to them!
·   Keep safety in mind.  Dress appropriately. Take in fluids along the way. Take your time. Some runs may be very crowded and busy. Make sure you set up a meeting place at the finish in case you get separated.
·   Have fun! Don’t take it all too seriously. Races can be a blast. The runners and spectators combine forces and the result is a sort of magical and infectious energy. Your kids will remember the race for a long time, I promise.
      Do you Run races with your kids? Why or why not?
      How much do you think we should push kids to run? My opinion that is that pushing kids to do things because you want them to do them is a recipe for disaster and will come back to bite you.

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