If your anything like me you can’t wait to share your active lifestyle with your little ones. Getting your kids involved in your healthy activities is not only fun for both of you, it helps them create healthy habits that will have them hooked for life! While my babies aren’t quite old enough to run with me The Diesels kids are! Today I paired up with his oldest to come up with 12 Tips For Your Kids First 5K, and seeing as she has been running them since she was 7 year’s old I think we have you covered!
Time It Right
When deciding the right time for your kids first 5K it’s important to remember that every kids is different. While some children may be ready to race with you at 7, others may not feel ready until they are in their teens, listen to your child. The most important thing is that they feel ready to take on the challenge and have a great time with you! Don’t push racing on your kids.
Race Short First
Starting with a shorter race is a great way to introduce your child to the sport with out the added pressure of racing with adults. Consider entering your little racer into a few shorter races before jumping to the 5K. There are plenty of events that offer kids only races at shorter distances. Entering your youngster in a few 1 mile races gives them a preview of what their 5K will be like and may help settle any race day fears.
Pick A Fun Race
Your kids first 5K is all about having a good time! With so many fun filled themed races on the scene there is something out there for everyone! Does your kid love frozen yogurt? Consider the Fro Yo Run. Does dressing up in costume sound appealing, head out for a festive themed race like a Halloween 5K or jingle bell run. The options for racing are truly endless from glow in the dark to a festival of colors, from mud to foam, the biggest obstetrical will be choosing which one your kid loves most! Head over to runningintheusa.com and scroll through the races in your area until you find one that get’s your kiddo excited!
Let’s just be honest, we all love swag right? That’s why race swag made numbers 18 and number 17 on my 20 Reasons To Tri list! Well guess what, so do your kids! Keep that in mind when you are selecting your race. Shoot for a race that offers a finishers medal, a cool T-shirt, and any other fun swag that your kids would go nuts over! Having a medal to hang on their wall and a shirt to show off to family members is a must for their first race!
Talk It Up
Your kid has decided to do their first race and that is a big deal! Talk it up with family and friends! Send out a tweet, include it in your family newsletter, spread the word. Encourage your family and friends to check in with your kid about their up coming race, your little runner will love all the attention! Having family and friends interested in their race and asking questions makes it all the more exciting and gives them an opportunity to open up and share about their new past time.
Racing with your kid is really about spending time together, and that doesn’t just mean on race day! Head out in the evenings for a run around the neighborhood a few days a week and get your little runner involved in their training plan. Have them listen to their body and give you input on how far they would like to run that day. Take advantage of that time together on your training runs to open up a dialogue. Get your kiddo talking, listen to how they are feeling about the upcoming event, and address any fears they may have. Are they worried about how far the run will be? Assure them that it is ok to take walk breaks. Are the concerned about the crowds? Talk about starting in the back where your child can set his or her own pace.
Make A Game Plan
While some children may be ready to power through and run the entire 5K others may feel more comfortable taking walk breaks along the way. It is important to talk about your child’s expectations and make a game plan. Assure your budding runner that it is perfectly acceptable to take walk breaks. On the other hand if you have a speedster on your hands you may need an entirely different approach. If you are unable to keep up you may consider agreeing to meet at the finish line, this is only if the race is at a venue where you think it is appropriate and safe for your child to run the course alone.
Turn Up The Tunes
If your child is motivated by music you may consider having them work for tunes. Create a sticker chart that let’s them work towards their own MP3 player. Use chores or a training to help them earn their prize. If your child already has an MP3 player then can work towards a new playlist to use on race day. Just make sure to teach them how to safely use their MP3 player during races and runs.
Dress For Success
Kids love dressing up so go all out and have fun! Let your little racer pick out their own race clothing. It can be anything from a comfy pair of shorts with their race T-shirt or a full blown costume. Tutus, super hero get ups, wings, or capes, the possibilities are endless! Top it all off with a little colored hair spray to help your kid get that something special to run super fast!
Start A Tradition
I am all about race day traditions, making every event a family affair brings everyone together. Great race traditions always include the pre race dinner! Go for a classic carb loading pasta dinner, or pick up a pizza on your way home from packet pick up, what ever makes the tradition fun and exciting for the whole family! The tradition doesn’t stop there. If the race goes well keep coming back year after year. Sticking with the same race works particularly well for getting younger siblings excited to start running!
Invite your family out to cheer your kiddo across the finish line. Nothing will make them feel more special than seeing their loved ones at their race to support their hard effort and dedication! Your kid just finished their first 5K, that is a big deal for an adult, you better believe it is a huge deal for your little racer! After the race it is time to celebrate! Go out for a big pancake breakfast or order a pizza, your kiddo earned it!
Your kids first 5K is a big accomplishment that deserves to be commemorated. Chances are your child loves photos of him or herself, and race day is no different! Download pictures from the race website, or have some family members their to catch the big day on camera. Then print them out, or even create a photobook that your child can look through to remember their special day. Let’s not forget that awesome finishers medal. Make sure to hang your child’s medal up somewhere where it can be admired. If your little racer has caught the bug consider making (or purchasing) a medal hanger to display their treasures!
Do you have a little racer? What helped your little one catch the running bug?