Passing the Baton: Getting our Kids into Running

I’ve been a terrible runner for most of my life.

Truthfully, I hated it as a kid. Running any kind of distance always felt like punishment. Not that I wasn’t an active kid, mind you. I played outside a lot and enjoyed tennis from the time I could hold a racquet. But, since running was not my strong suit, I was also a goalkeeper for six of my nine soccer seasons and my graceful scramble to first base was described by my own father as, “like watching someone move in slow motion”.

My least favorite time of year through elementary school was when the P.E. teacher had to run us through our Canadian Fitness Test, something you’ll only remember if you were a kid in the 70’s and 80’s. An annual collection of activities designed to measure physical fitness, I saw it as basic training with a dash of public humiliation, since my disappointing results would ultimately be presented in front the whole class.

I actually think most of my scores were probably pretty good. I was a scrawny kid, but that meant I had little resistance working against me for push-ups and sit-ups. My shuttle run would have been pretty good too. (I’m still a tough tennis opponent because I can track down a lot of balls.) But the Endurance Run… damn that Endurance Run.

Whatever result I was on pace for was obliterated when asked to run 1,600 meters continuously. I just couldn’t do it. By the end of my grade school career, I had amassed a shameful collection of Silver and Bronze medals from the program. (That may sound good, but there was only one “Thanks For Trying” level below Bronze on the spectrum) Worse, because of my attitude toward running, I didn’t have any interest in training to be better the next year.

So, as Joy and I have started to build running into our routine over the past six months, I’m happy to see that our kids have taken an interest. They see us getting into our running gear and check in with us when we return. Our oldest has even asked about getting into a race herself.

When I think about how many team sports and activities are founded on running and/or cardiovascular endurance, and how much I struggled with it, I see how important it is that our kids grow up to see recreational running as a pastime and not a punishment. It’s something we can do inexpensively as a family and an activity that they can enjoy at their own pace as they grow.

To help encourage them, we’ve decided to register them with us in the TRY Events TWU Fort Langley Historic Half in February. With a 300-meter race for our two-year-old, and a 600-meter race for his older sister, it will give them a first exposure to running and racing that’s appropriate for their age and hopefully will kick-start a relationship to the sport that is much healthier than mine was thirty years ago.

And whatever their pace, they’ll get to take home a medal they can be proud of.

Interested in more resources for kids on the run? Try this article from Health.com and this longer read from Runner’s World.

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1 Response

  1. February 24, 2015

    […] seen us do with growing regularity this year. It was their chance for an introduction to a sport we hope can bring them enjoyment and improved fitness for a lifetime, as I’ve written about before. And it started out […]

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