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How Soon Should Kids Start Running? 🏃 (Ep. 32)


hey hope that woke you up dad’s I bet
you’re wondering how soon is too soon for your child to start running and when
is an appropriate age for them to begin the habit of getting out there I hear
that question all the time and so we’re gonna talk about it a little bit today
welcome this is the Run With My Son show I’m Gideon Newell and we are a bunch of
dads who are determined not to let the head winds of life push us off that path
to a lifelong heart to heart relationship with our sons and we do
that through something we call #Runversations which are these you know
deliberate conversations we have one-on-one with our children while we’re
out and about you know getting some exercise some fitness together and
really just bonding so the question that I asked there a moment ago how soon you
know is too soon and it comes from a pretty familiar place for me we have a
family of runners in my household my wife and I each run in the kids you know
do their their kids fun run from from your year and we’ve got all kinds of
cousins who participate and do the same thing so they love doing that and your
kids love to run to I know that but the question is how soon excuse me is the
right time for them to begin routinely running getting out there and you know
doing something with an end goal in mind be it a race or just a distance or a
time you know gold they’ve got in their own head there there is such thing as
too soon you know you you don’t want to push somebody to the point where they
dislike the sport and I got a story about that for me my childhood that I’ll
share a little bit later here but um before I get too deep into it let me
throw up on screen here in this week’s question of the day just to warm you up
we were wondering in my family here the other day as I was talking with my three
sons what are they most excited about giving
this Christmas season we celebrate Christmas and I in my household and so
they’re looking forward to the things they’re gonna give and you know I had
each of them you tell me what different gifts they’ve pulled together created
but whatever wrapped you know what are they most excited to give to somebody
else and so I ask you the same thing go ahead and type in the comments below
what you’re most excited to be giving what you can’t wait to see them lip open
and tear open and you want to see the expression on their face for me it would
certainly be you know the gift that I got for my wife which I can’t go into
too much detail here because she occasionally watches the show and I
don’t want to spoil things before our Monday but yeah I’m looking forward to
seeing her learn about the different excursion the the excursion the little
memory building trip I’ve got sort of planned for us I think she’s gonna love it
but yeah let us know if you’re not shy you want to type it in there let us know
what you’re most excited about giving this holiday season and I’ll leave that
up on screen for a little bit as I go ahead and dive into the actual content
some pointers on how you can detect when your your child is ready to begin
running and then how you can go ahead and approach that and what’s the best
way to begin so it might me just give you it straight up in my honest opinion
I think any time after kindergarten is a good time and I have spoken to lots of
parents who started sooner age three you know I was hearing from a few parents
and other parents you know might want to give it a little bit longer until you
know age nine or so and really there’s there’s no bad time to start and I just
happen to like after kindergarten because you know they’ll they’ll have a
purpose their focus will you know will be there so that they’ll you know at
least know that they’re trying to get from A to B whereas three-year-old a
two-year-old you know it might just you know five steps in forget what they’re
doing you know and so that’s my little mild smile but I wanted to share what
what one dad was telling me and his began as he did right around age nine so
that’s interesting I found that interesting because my own son at age
nine was when he decided to kind of join me in my runs and it was a good good
starting point because at that age he had some peers who were starting to get
into the sport a lot of our schools these days have got these after-school
running clubs and programs and they often don’t even begin until this age
but but even for those who’ve had running clubs you know since an earlier
age by age nine or so they’ve they’ve suddenly got some peers who are into
different sports and that might be the prompt that might be what gets their
attention oh gee Jimmy told me he did this race this weekend I wonder what
that was like it’d be kind of fun to go to one of those so that is one of the
the things that I’ve written here is a good thing to look for and that is their
interest you don’t want to you know drag them to the sport you want them to come
to the sport because it’s it’s something inward and the sorts of things you might
you might see from them is interested in your own runs you know I remember last
year coming back in the house from you know a run around the neighborhood and
the kids would ask me how was your run daddy kind of parroting I think possibly
what mommy was would ask when I’d come home but they meant it you know and
sometimes even absent you know her asking the question the kids would ask
that was your run and so that was an opportunity for me to tell them what my
run was like I was great I got to see you know a couple of rabbits and a deer
even or it’s pretty good as a little cold out there was windy you know and
just sharing a little bit of the experience a few words you know to paint
a picture in their head and to bring them there mentally another sign you can
look for is if they actually ask you if they can come can I come now that one in
my household didn’t start until I took my oldest son with me on our first
one-on-one runs but you can bet the very next week his little brothers were
wondering if they could come on a run too you know and it’s as much motivated
by the desire to be out running in is to be you know where the fun is FOMO
fear of missing out they wanted to be with dad just like you know their
brothers were so that’s assignment for when they actually asked if they can
come another sign is if they talk about friends at school who are doing this or
like I said Jimmy did a race I don’t know what that would be like I’d like to
run in a race someday well there you go I mean you don’t run in a race unless
you prepare and do a little running first so let’s go around the
neighborhood let’s do a little run and see what you think and fourth is if they
tell other people about you and you’re running habit my daddy’s a runner he
goes on runs on Saturday so that much enthusiasm that he remembers it and he
explains it to people he puts it in his little schoolwork or draws a picture of
it that’s an indicator that it’s in his head what you do and maybe it’s a good
time to invite him along so the second thing I want to stress and point out is
that you always want to ask them and get their buy-in you don’t want to just jump
the gun and commit them to a race of fun run or sign them up for the club or
whatever that can be successful but it can also backfire in my own case running
did not begin with me until I got a letter in the mail one summer in between
middle school and high school from my middle school gym teacher actually was
addressed to my parents and it was encouraging them to enroll me in the
high school cross country running club which the team which had you know that
was the furthest thing from my mind you know I was never an athlete of any kind
but my gym teacher saw some potential and pointed it out to my parents and so
it was really their impetus they got me signed up and in in this instance it
actually was a good one but that could easily have gone the other way and for
that I’ll share story for much earlier in my childhood elementary school soccer
where we would run around on the soccer field all morning long exhausted our
particular soccer field was littered with goose turds because every Canadian
goose in Canada I feel decided to roost you know in the springtime at our soccer
field and so we’d be frequently chasing them off but
always stepping in it so I had a lot of reasons to dislike soccer I don’t think
I had any friends who were on the team with me either come to think of it but I
don’t even think I finished through the season I was one of those you know I
don’t like this I remember very vividly from play to play the coach blown his
whistle and telling me one thing you got to keep moving with the ball you got to
keep why aren’t you in your position this is your position you’re supposed to
stay here so the very next play I stood there plant it with my feet
didn’t move at all and he was equally frustrated by that why didn’t you move
around you know just I wasn’t understanding things I was brought to
the sport I wasn’t myself motivated to go to the sport so that was you know an
example of doing it the wrong way perhaps but you dad’s you’re gonna do it
the right way you’re gonna wait until you see some interest and you’re gonna
nurture that and to that point number three
it’s super important the way you approach this you are a parent first and
a coach second so when you’re out there doing these runs especially these
introductory runs you don’t want to push and be too aggressive maybe this doesn’t
seem ambitious enough to you we’re only going a mile come on let’s do more but
keep in mind especially if they’re brand new that you know this is pretty
ambitious to them what you know could be a quick one mile for you might feel like
five miles to him and it’s not only because he’s inexperienced and not
conditioned the way you are but just mechanically he’s a smaller person
he’s got shorter legs he needs to turn that gear more rotations in order to get
to the same mileage that you get with two or three strides so there’s just a
lot of reasons why let’s let’s take it nice and slow and it is perfectly normal
for kids you know right up right up through teenage years to do their
running in run/walk/run walk jog a little walk a little that is perfectly
acceptable and you should encourage any of that you know and you can call that
running I know I beat myself up on my back on the back you know when
do a run and I’m not able to complete the whole thing without stopping for a
walk I have to have to walk up the hill and then complete the run you know at
the beginning of a season if I haven’t been out there for you know months and
months through the winter or something that might happen a few times and I beat
myself up but we can’t you know apply that same sort of standard for our kids
we have to encourage every attempt you know even if it’s broken up by lots of
walks wow you did an awesome job that was a great run we had you know use that
sort of language when it’s over with because your goal is not to get him five
miles or get him faster or to get them you know prepared to come home with a
trophy your goal is to build the lifelong love for the sport for the
activity so pace it as far whatever is comfortable for him for her your child
where were you taking out there and and remember to listen to their body it
actually wouldn’t be a bad idea even before engaging in this sort of activity
to also perhaps talk to their pediatrician you know if you’ve got your
child has got any kind of history of troubles asthma or ankle knee you know
feet troubles heart conditions you know by all means you want it you know I take
the advice and find out what sort of things to watch for you know excessive
fatigue in these different things and I don’t pretend to be a medical expert so
but but but incorporate that in your planning process and you know build your
workout plans you know around that all right um I want to share another story
from a mom who spoke this week about her two kids and ages let’s see and a
daughter age four who ran three races this past summer and her son who is
eight who does not only individual races but also school races they have an
after-school Club and there’s those are a great place to start to probably the
biggest motivator the biggest influencer in your child’s budding you know running
career is going to be that first coach who often is
gonna be you dad you know you’re gonna be out there running with him so keep
that in mind but you know even in the school or after
school setting you know that that coach is an important thing an important
influencer and there are a lot of great programs out there you know locally and
nationwide we’re starting at our elementary school in April an
after-school running club they haven’t had one but it’s modeled after the rod
Dixon kids marathon and these are great the kids actually run a marathon but
they do it cumulatively so over like an eight to ten week span they do two to
three miles a week and you know and it sort of adds up and then it culminates
in the final mile where they actually you know all gather together on the high
school track or some you know special place and they do that last measured
mile and there’s a big party in celebration and ribbons or medals
afterward but they’ve completed a full marathon when you tally it all together
that’s a cool program the 100 mile Club is another one that’s one where kids
accumulate 100 miles over the course of the school year I love that and maybe
you’ve heard of girls on the Run which is an after-school program for girls
where they incorporate fitness but they also have other lessons and workshops
and such and and and they just talk a bunch of life lesson kind of things to
relationships and confidence-building and that sort of thing and they do a 5k
non-competitive race together I think every three months every quarter or
something like that so if that’s something that might interest your
daughter I don’t know how it compares to say Girl Scouts or anything don’t have
any girls in our household we hit the jackpot with three boys but those are
some other you know sort of clubs you can look into or perhaps even start your
own after-school activity talk to your your elementary school principal or
maybe it’s the gym teacher that might be the person to coordinate with and you
know see if you can get something off the ground you know because that’s
what’s going to give them some motivation it’s not so much the activity
it’s the camaraderie if their friends are doing it with them you know if it’s
a week after week club thing where I get to run with my buddies that’s gonna have
so much more lasting interest for them which
also kind of reminds me let me take this down first I got the question today if
you are looking to start a habit together of running with your son if
you’re the coach and you guys are gonna go do something we go on Saturday
mornings in my household my son and I and you have no no idea where to start
maybe you’re both couch potatoes and you want to be 5k Road race runners I got a
gerund got a recommend this training plan we’ve got this couch to 5k training
plan for kids it actually is designed with kids in mind you know so that you
know in I think it’s eight to ten weeks you’ll be ready no matter what fitness
level you start with you’ll be able to compete in a 5k Road race together so
all the all the workouts you need all the distances and when the walk breaks
and the running breaks and how many minutes to go it’s all on that guide
it’s great when it’s free you can get it on our website or if you’re watching
this video on Facebook you can just type right in the comments “training plan” and
we’ll send it straight to you but if you’re not watching on Facebook then
follow me go to our website and grab it up it’s a good resource back to this
screen here so uh another another thing to keep in mind you know if they’re
hesitant if they’re not certain if they kind of want to do it but they’re a
little bit nervous you know you don’t need a ton of equipment you know a good
pair of sneakers this is probably fine for your first few days you’re not gonna
go very far eventually you might want to get them in some you know actual nicer
sneakers or whatever but the most important thing is to give it a try you
know what you never know until you do so it might turn out to be your best sport
as a kid I was not very fast when I did enroll when I did sign up for that high
school cross-country team I was terrible and I couldn’t let that that
disappointment you know drag me to a place where I didn’t want to follow
through but I had some great coaches I should I should tag him here in the
video coach Andy Rogovin and coach Jim Morse you know we’re very
influential and they both emphasized not necessarily the results but the effort
and week after we can prove it coach Andy in particular was just stat
crazy we got you know volumes of statistical analysis this week after
week on you know how how much improvement we had on this leg in this
race and and you know what you might you might be slow in short-term you know
short distances but I learned that being short being slow in short races isn’t
the same thing as being slow in long races because many people can’t run long
races just the fact that you know you can continue for miles and miles and
miles and miles when others fall short you know The Tortoise and the hare story
was a great one to share with with my kids a couple weeks ago and it’s the
principal you know of of being able to stick with something and see it through
so that’s what your end goal is dad’s you know you’re not trying to you know
bring home a trophy you’re trying to bring home a lifelong love for a sport
that’s gonna have lasting benefits for their health and for their happiness and
for your relationship together if you’re out there doing as we recommend weekly
one-on-one time with your son and it need not be out there running it could
be well you know whatever activity gets you guys one-on-one time together
without the siblings without without mommy that you can have those routine
conversations that it can he can begin to rely on it he’s didn’t he knows that
it’s gonna be there next week and it’s gonna be there to follow him again the
following week you build a habit around it that’s where your your relationship
really is gonna see its turn around you’re gonna have those deep #Runversations that we talk about all right um and one more thing I’ll just offer and
remind you if you’re unaware we’ve got a Facebook group for dads who run so you
need not feel like you’re doing this alone if you are looking for some here
some trainings or some sharing your inspirational moments hey me and my son
went we did you know this much distance this weekend dads are sharing their
struggles they’re sharing their victories
and trading some inspiration back and forth it’s a great group if you’re on
Facebook again watching this video you need only type the word “group” in the
comments and we’ll send you the link to that otherwise it’s the URL written
there facebook.com/groups/DadsWhoRun all right well dad’s let
me encourage you to get out there this week
take your father-son team to victory I will not be live a week from today gonna
take a little bit of a vacation here at the end of December as I as I record
this now December 2017 but I might drop some pre-recorded content on you in fact
I almost certainly will so we’ll still have something for you it just won’t be
a live show next Friday and then in 2018 will resume write up again in the first
Friday and every Friday thereafter in 2018 we go live at 10:30 a.m. Eastern
and yeah we’d love to have you come come watch all right well thanks again dads
remember take your father-son team to victory this week get out there get that
one-on-one time that’s where it all starts and in the meantime you know
enjoy have yourselves a merry little Christmas if you celebrate it like we do
or a happy holiday or even just a great week and I look forward to seeing you at
the end of it hey I hope you got some terrific value from that video if you
did I invite you to hit the subscribe button to get notifications of all of
our new videos you’re also welcome to watch one of our popular back episodes
and you can always visit our website RunWithMySon.com for a free couch to 5k
training plan that you can run together with your son

Stephen Childs

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