My children were only 5 and 2 years old when I began running. One my greatest joys has been watching my children become involved in the sport I love. Today I ran Hartford Marathon Foundation’s #OPutnam 5K with my 9-year old son. This was a race he was looking forward to running, but unfortunately, he didn’t have the best race.* I’m never going to win the parent of the year award, but I believe I’ve learned a lot from our many races together. Here are my Top 5 Tips for Running with Your Children:
- Know their limits: When you race with your children, it’s all about them. Some days they just won’t be feeling it and it’s okay.
- Throw your “Race Plan” out the window: On the drive to this race we discussed our Run/Walk/Run intervals and agreed on a 1 minute run and 30-second walk. As soon as the horn blew, the boy took off and in the end needed additional walk breaks. Adjust and adapt to your child.
- Fuel and hydrate for everyone: Especially if the race is early make sure everyone eats breakfast and hydrates. It’s smart to bring walk on course because kids then to not care where the water stop is located. They want water when they want water (now).
- Be positive: There will probably be “ugly crying.” There will probably be sulking with feet dragging. Your job as parent is to be positive no matter what and redirect the negative.**
- Celebrate the accomplishment: Even though our 41 minutes on course had very little “Kodak moments,” we still crossed the finish line together. And although my son did not have a good race, I’m still very proud of him.
What are YOUR tips for running with your children? What have you learned about yourself and them during the race?
*He ended up having the flu.
**I’ve had to bribe my 10-year old, with a pony through a 10K once. We later renegotiated.