I have been wanting to get my 10 year old son to run a 5K for a couple of years now. He has also expressed interest in running and has also been asking to run a 5K for a couple of years now.
The perfect opportunity came when he brought a flyer home from school for a 5K that would benefit the school. So I went online and registered him and myself with plenty of time to prepare.
That 5K is next week.
But my girlfriend, Jamie, is a high school teacher and the NHS students were holding a 5K to benefit the Wounded Warriors charity. With about a week notice she signed up not only me and my 10 year old, but she also signed up herself and my 7 year old.
That 5K was this past weekend.
Needless to say my 10 year old did not prepare as he should have been preparing to run a 5K, and of course my 7 year old has never run more than a few hundred feet in a single stretch.
So the plan was to run/walk as needed. Jamie would stay with the 7 year old and I would run with the 10 year old, Tyler. I don’t push my kids when it comes to sports or other activities, but I wanted to push Tyler just enough so he would know he could do more than he thinks. I was cautious not to push him too hard though since he did not really train to run for three miles.
I could tell Tyler was not completely ready to run a 5K real hard, but I knew he could push himself just enough.
He ran most of it with short walk breaks and toward the end he was really feeling it. But once it was all done he felt like he conquered the world. He was tired, but very happy that he finished the way he did.
I think kids of any age can run a 5K and have fun doing it. It is a good race to give them a taste of endurance running and if done right can get them hooked on a sport that improves all aspects of their life. Here are a few of my opinions on running a 5K with kids.
Make it about the kids.
The run we did this past weekend was a no frills fun run. No bibs. No age group awards. The only timing was someone at the finish with a stopwatch. There were only about 100 runners, most of them teachers and students from the school. Standing around at the start and listening to everyone talk made me think I could actually finish in the top three. Something I have never done and will probably never do.
But I knew that I would rather run with my son than run hard and try to win a fun run and get a cheap medal. Running a 5K was important to my son and I knew that staying with him and helping him through it would make him love running just a little bit more than he did at the start.
Run with them in training.
Some kids are motivated to train on their own. When I first signed Tyler up for the original 5K I did not make a formal training plan, but I told him that three to five days a week he needed to run a couple loops around our apartment complex. Each loop is .7 miles and he could build up until he was running two miles or so.
Like I said, he did not prepare like he should have, but he would have probably been more prepared had I run with him a little more. It is easy enough to run a lap or two with him before dinner.
Training is the best time to teach them how to pace themselves and how to get used to the tougher aspects of running.
Teach them that running is about more than running.
This first 5K was a good one for Tyler. During the run I was pushing him just enough to show him that he could do more than he thinks he can do. This will spill over into the rest of his life.
I also reinforced that if he can endure the toughness of running for long distances he can endure other tough spots in his life. No matter what causes those tough spots.
I taught him that he will get stronger every time he runs and that strength will be not only physical but mental and emotional as well.
After the run both Tyler and Christopher were excited at their accomplishment. They both felt good about doing it and they both had a good time. Christopher got through the entire distance without saying that he wanted to stop, a feat that we did not think was going to happen. Honestly, we thought Jamie would have to bribe him to get to the end.
Christopher was excited and asked if he had ever even ran a mile. When I told him no he smiled with pride and excitement. And right after that he went and played little league.
So I think we had good results at the first 5K for the boys. Tyler is showing more interest in running than Christopher is, and that is ok.
Our next 5K, his second, is next Sunday. Just 8 days after his first. We will take it easy with a walk/run routine and not aim for a PR, but just aim for a strong finish.