Thursday, 20 September 2012

Kids love to run!

Following on from my previous post.....Getting your kids into sport

Let's face it, weren't we all so much more keen to run when we were kids? Young kids love running. They run everywhere. If they want to get from point A to point B, more often than not they will run.

As adults its far less normal to run in our everyday lives. Once in a while I see one of the directors at my workplace run across the office and I always notice it - it's just unusual and slightly funny, even though I know he is "a runner". If you saw a kid doing the same thing it would just look normal, apart from the fact that the kid was in an office, but I think you know what I mean.

Recently my kids came to see me run a race for the first time in a very long time. A few days later, due to my current calf injury, I was about to head out for a very slow jog around the block. The block is almost exactly half a mile. I was intending to do a couple of laps if the leg felt ok. Before heading out on this slow run I asked the kids if they would like to join me. Each of them shouted "Yes! Me please Daddy!". The Olympic effect in full force! They all want to be Jonnie Peacock now!

And so it was that I had to take each of them out in turn. Not that I minded that in the slightest.

First up it was my daughter. She was absolutely adamant that she wanted to do two laps and "get a world record". A personal "world record" sounds much better to them than a "personal best" so the terminology has stuck with us for now at least. For the record, they make me time them as they always want to know if they do better than they have before. Something else they must have learned from me.

Its been a few months since the last time they did this with me, and as they are growing fast, a personal "world record" is not too hard for them to achieve. In the end, two laps turned into three as she was enjoying it so much after the first two. Oh, and she told me she had to do three to "train for parkrun". The parkrun effect is also wearing off on them! If I remember correctly she did the three laps in roughly 18:30. Considering she is only just 4 years old, I think this is pretty impressive. She only stopped very briefly on two occasions and she talked almost non-stop the whole way. By the way, she managed a few personal "world records", not least as she had never run that far before.

Next up it was my eldest. He is 8 years old. He set out to do 2 laps and 2 laps was what he did. The first lap was almost exactly 10 minute mile pace and the second ensured that he did his fastest ever mile too, by quite some way. He was very pleased with himself.

Finally (or so you would think) it was number 2 son, as I like to call him - well it is his name! He is 6 years old. Anyway, he was only interested in doing one lap. He has always been the least keen to run around the block. This time he was very keen, but he was sure that one lap was his limit. Yet again we had another personal "world record".

They were all so pleased with, and proud of, their "world records" and each of them said that they wanted to do it again the next day.

I had about an hour break, only for my daughter to tell me that she wanted to go out again. Not for another lap, but for another two laps! And we did. And again she ran the whole way. She is so determined! I know that two and a half miles in a single day is a very long way for a 4 year old to run, but I just find it so impressive that she wants to and is able to do it. Her cumulative time for 2.5 miles was around 33 minutes.

So the big question, and really the whole point of this post and the previous post is, "when is the right age to introduce my kids to parkrun?".

I know that when I do, I will have to turn up expecting them not to complete the run. And certainly not put any pressure on them to do so. But at what age could a child be capable of running 5km (3.1 miles) and enjoying doing so and without it equating to some degree of child cruelty?

I'd love to know what you think.


  1. My boy did his first parkrun when he was 5 and a half- it was more about when he was mature enough to behave responsibly rather than the distance as with it being 3 laps he could easily stop at any time! He is now a recognised parkrun tourist with many events and volunteer credits to his name and loves the whole thing.

    If they fancy it, and you are prepared to sacrifice your run for them I'd say do it!!

    1. Impressive Jason! I think she needs to build the distance a little bit more before I give it a go with her. But she is so keen.

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