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You've signed up your child to run the Kids Run at your next race and you want it to be fun for the whole family. Here are some ways to prepare so everyone will have a good time.
TRAIN. If your child doesn't run much, make sure you go out a few times in the weeks before the event so they can practice running or walking for up to 5 minutes. Start with a minute of running or walking Then add a minute each you go out.
BRING FOOD TO THE EVENT. Kids Runs usually start late in the morning, after the main event, so have snacks like fresh fruit, bagels, pretzels, and water available while you're waiting. Running on an empty stomach is hard for all of us.
CLOTHING. Make sure your child understands they need to wear sneakers to run in, this is for their safety. Other than that, have some fun with clothes - tutus, sweatbands, costumes, sparkles. Just make sure it's comfortable and is easy to run in.
SCHEDULE. Make sure you know what time the Kids Run starts so you aren't rushing to the start line and you don't miss it. Arrive a few minutes early to warm up and listen to any instructions.
HAVE FUN. Most Kids Runs are not timed or competitive. If your child gets scared or upset during the Kids Run (it happens ALL the time) don't worry - just walk or skip, and cheer on the other runners. Try not to get upset - it'll be better next time.
CELEBRATE. Encourage your child to wear their medal or ribbon all day or bring it to school. Find a special place to display it in their room. Take photos and share them.
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Parents often wonder if they should run along side their child in the Kids Run or wait at the finish line and cheer. I love when parents run with their children at my Run Kids Run events. It always makes me smile to see families enjoying the sport together. I also appreciate those parents who recognize their kids have found their own passion for running and are happy to hang out on the sidelines cheering. Here are some things to consider for your child’s next running event:
Consider the rules. Make sure it’s allowed. Due to space or liability restrictions, some races simply don’t allow non-registered participants on the course. If you really want to run alongside your budding athlete, you might need to register and pay for a race bib too. Check the website or ask the race director for the rules.
Consider the course. A simple out and back course - that starts and finishes in the same place - is better for a child to run without an adult. The child will run right back to where they started. However, if a course is a point to point - where the start and finish are in different places - the child should understand what to do and where to meet family after they finish.
Consider their age. Older children like to run alone and are often faster than their parents. They understand to wait at the finish line (talk to your child before the race to decide where to meet). Younger children may be slower, need to stop on the course, and may get nervous.
Consider their running experience. Children who don’t have much experience with running can have a hard time pacing themselves and can get tired quickly, which can be scary. If your child is new to running, you may want to run alongside them.
Consider siblings. If you have two or more children who run at different paces, you’ll need to choose one to run with. Usually that's the slowest and youngest child, but make sure you have a plan with the older children so they know if you expect them to run with you or where to meet you at the finish line.
Consider their need to be independent. Many parents (especially those of us who run) are so excited when our children want to run races that we just want to be involved too. But many children want to do it themselves. If they don't need you to run with them, you can wait at the finish line taking photos.