Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Top 10 Reasons to Get Your Kids Running

Children learn to run

Running is a wonderful sport for anyone...men, women, old, and young.  It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it sure does keep you healthy!  As adults, we all know that we should be getting exercise and eating healthy.  But we are also responsible for our children's health.  All too often in our busy lives, children become sedentary, addicted to all things electronic.  Wouldn't it be great if you could channel that addiction into a healthy sport?  Better yet, one that you can join them in?  Running is the perfect sport for busy families! Here are my top 10 reasons why you should get your kids running!

1. It's great exercise for them.  It gets their hearts pumping and their muscles moving.  It burns calories and fat efficiently.  Our society is incredibly obese, and children are increasingly overweight.  Excessive weight, as we have all heard, increases a number of health risks for our children, including diabetes. The risks do not stop in childhood, either.  Children who grow up in a sedentary lifestyle with an unhealthy diet have a very difficult time overcoming the habits and patterns they develop as kids.  So, overweight children become overweight adults.  Obesity in adults greatly increases their risk of cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular disease!  But running (and other forms of exercise) can help your child learn to live a healthy lifestyle that will last a lifetime!
2.  It can be done any time of day, so you can work around your schedule/homework/dinner, etc.  If it's dark out, have them use a headlamp...but make sure they are with an adult, of course! You can buy headlamps in the sporting goods sections of big box stores.  They're pretty cheap...usually around $12-$20. This is one of the headlamps I have and it is perfect for my daughter!  We also use them while hiking, camping, and going on expeditions in our closets, like I wrote about in this post.

3.  They can run all year long, in all kinds of weather...as long as they are prepared.  You should always dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer out than it really is.  So, if it is 60 degrees out, have your child wear something that would be appropriate for a 70 degree day.  I also highly recommend technical clothing.  It doesn't have to be expensive...you can buy it at Wal-Mart for pretty cheap.  I usually get Little Miss's running/athletic clothes there when they are on clearance for around $3.00 each piece (tops or bottoms).  Of course, you can also purchase name-brand technical clothing for kids at sporting goods stores or online.

4.  It is a lifelong sport.  They will be able to continue running throughout their whole lives.  Many sports can be played for quite a long time through young adulthood.  And nowadays, you can find some adult leagues here and there of sports you play.  But with running, you can just step outside and go...no need for teams, membership fees, facility usage fees, etc.  And the best part of it is that it still can be social...if you want it to be!  You can join running clubs or go running with a friend. 
5.  They don't need a lot of expensive equipment to join this sport. Really, all they need is a pair of good running shoes.  I do highly recommend that you take your child to a running store and invest in a good pair of shoes that fits them properly.  But you don't have to!  That's the beauty of it!  You can have your child run in whatever shoes you bought them for gym class.  My daughter sometimes runs around in her Converse kick-around shoes.  Is it the best shoe for her to run around in?  Probably not.  But, if the alternative is arguing with her endlessly to put on her running shoes and/or not running at all, I will take the physical activity with the Converse shoes anytime! 

Other than that, the only necessary cost would be an entrance fee to a race, if that is the ultimate goal.  Entrance fees for 5k races can run anywhere from $5 for a very small, local race, to $30 or so for the larger, more well-known races in your area. 

Naturally, as with any activity or hobby, you can go out and purchase the best gear for your child.  Being the cheap-o that I am, though, I prefer to go to the clearance racks while my kids are still growing!
6.  It teaches them to get to know and listen to their bodies.  They will learn what their bodies feel like and how they react to different terrain and weather conditions.  They will learn to assess what feels right/wrong with their bodies, which can help them prevent injuries in running, as well as in other sports.  They can learn what foods and fluids best fuel their bodies for physical activities.  They will learn when they can push their bodies to perform at a higher level, and when they need to slow it down.
7.  You can join them in this sport...it's great for bonding or one-on-one time with your child, which, in turn promotes a greater overall well-being for your child.  If you are a goal-oriented, type A person, you may wish to get your run in before going out with your child, though.  Some children do not like to just go out and run.  They may prefer to run a bit, walk a bit, stop and do cartwheels, skip for a few steps, twirl around and then bend down to pick up rocks to throw (not that I have ANY experience with this, mind you 😜).  So if you need to accomplish a set pace or distance, it may be better for you to go out and get most or all of it done, then come back and get your child to go along with you.  It definitely relieves the stress of the stop-and-go-and-twirl method!
8.  It teaches them discipline.  If they want to accomplish their goals, they have to work hard at it.  They can't just show up on race day and expect to finish or finish well.  They have to get out there several times a week (I recommend 4-5 times).  It doesn't have to be every single day, but it should be pretty regularly in order to get them in shape and ready to run their 5k!
9.  It teaches life lessons:  They probably won't win.  Most races have hundreds of people running them (primarily adults), so unless your child is the Bionic Child, they don't have much chance of winning.  But, they do have to try their hardest...in training, and on race day.  They have to learn to be competitive with themselves, not just other people.  I think this is an important skill to learn.  One of the things kids are famous for is trying to be first.  First in line, first to the car, first with assignments in class, etc.  They want to beat everybody.  But that's just not the way life is.  Nobody is first all the time...like, in the history of EVER.  So, for them to have to focus on competing primarily with their selves, they learn this valuable lesson.  They learn that they can't always be first, won't always compete against friends and classmates (sometimes it's strangers), and need to strive to be better than the last time they ran.
10. It gives children a huge sense of accomplishment to train for and complete a race:  It's great for their self-esteem!  They will set a goal for themselves and see it through to completion.  They will run 3 miles!!! Most adults cannot even run 3 miles!!!  So for a child to achieve that is quite a feat!  And if you pick the right race, there will be spectators cheering them on, excitement everywhere.  Plus they will enjoy the comradery they will see on the course.  Runners are famous for it.  We adults all want to see each other succeed, but we have even a little more energy and enthusiasm when we see children out there doing it!  .   
You can start kids at a pretty young age with running.  Many local races have 100 meter dashes for little ones, and even 7 and 8 year olds can train for and run a 5k!  In this day and age, there are many, many race options to choose from...pick a fun one!  Then sign them (and you!) up, and get out there pounding the pavement!  Make sure you take it slowly...you should plan on about 2 months of training before the day of the race!  And know that there is no harm in walking during the race!  Whatever gets your child from start to finish is the ultimate goal...even if it means doing a few twirls, jumping, or pretending to fly like a bird! 

Yours in running,

Marathon Momma

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