Jun 21, 201112:43 PMBaby Love
Ways to Get Your Kids Involved in Running
We in Oklahoma await the glinting orange and red leaves in the early autumn sun, and wish for that cool breeze. This change in seasons makes it perfect weather for a staggering array of runs sponsored all over the Tulsa area. Many parents and kids may have already run the Race for the Cure and are planning to participate in the Zoo Run, the Red Ribbon Run or the Tulsa Run. There are plenty of opportunities to introduce kids to the fun sport of running.
These days, most local 5k’s offer a one-mile “fun run” for young runners and their families. These types of races raise some important questions: “How young is too young?” And “What is a good distance for a child?”
Randy Maxwell, in his role as Head Coach for Tulsa Spikes, trains kids from 8 to 18 who have shown proficiency and interest in running. He says that when they train properly, they will be able to run for most of their lives. He stresses three factors in good training. The training alone is great, but it’s nothing without rest and nutrition.
“Runners often need to eat more and rest more,” he says.
If the body isn’t given good fuel and time to recover, it can lead to injury or burnout, possibly ending a running career.
Maxwell says that running is a great activity for students because “it translates to every other sport: football, basketball, soccer…” An athlete’s performance on his other field will see improvement in overall baseline fitness when he runs as part of his training.
Of course, students can be too young. Most kids under 8 lack the physical and mental stamina to run any kind of distance. Their bodies are still growing and what they really need to be doing, says Trani Matthews, owner of Tulsa Runner, is “playing. Just being kids.” But as children grow older they can begin to train and compete in distances from 1 mile to 5K to even further distances.
According to Maxwell, new runners need to be careful not to overdo it, often suggesting only two workouts per week to get started, with a few days’ recovery in between. He also wants students to stick with running so he reminds them not “to take it too seriously. Make sure it’s fun.” He reminds new runners that the achievement comes over time. “Improvement comes with distance. The more you do it the better you get.” So while it’s great to run a 1-mile fun run, running further requires a bit more effort and hard work.
For many people, running is an accessible sport because the cost and equipment requirements are small. Matthews tells parents that the “real essential is a good pair of shoes, and that they may not last a year.” Prices can range from $45 to $65 for youth-sized shoes and each runner will require something different in a shoe. Matthews also says parents and their young runners need to know the unspoken rules of the trail. “At public parks, younger runners should have parental supervision. Stay on the right and be courteous. Watch for bikes.”