Monday, May 7, 2018

How I Helped My 6 Year Old Train for a Race

About a month ago J brought home a flyer from school for their annual 5k and 1-mile race. She was so excited about it and asked me to run with her to help her get ready. This is the second year that she's wanted to run in it and the second year that she has.  Running is usually my alone time, but when my kids ask to go running sometimes it's hard to say no (and other times it's hard to say yes).  I'm not a coach or a personal trainer, but I am her mom and I can teach her what I know from experience. I told her that she could run with me for my warm up to help her start training.



I love that J loves to run.  I'm proud that she likes to do it because she thinks its fun, but also because I know and she knows that running and exercise is healthy for you. I love that when she sees me running and Trevon doing his workout she's learning that it's important, and a priority, to keep our bodies healthy and strong.

Each time I start helping her train for a race we take our first run nice and easy and I let her tell me when she is done. It helps me know where she's at and how much work we have to do.  This year, I was really surprised to see that she was already going a mile pretty easy.  She hasn't really run in almost a year, but playing at recess and after school must have helped keep her in shape better than I thought.



I had her do my warm up with me every time I was doing an evening run for the month before her race.  I always go pretty easy for me and remember to ask her frequently how she's feeling and if she thinks we need to go faster or slow down at all. Doing this helps her learn how to listen to her body and how to pace herself so that she doesn't use all of her energy at the very beginning of the race or run.

About a week before her race I took her up to the course and ran it with her so she would get a feel for how it would be.  She did this race last year too, but this sometimes just helps to calm any nerves. I asked J if she wanted me to watch and cheer her on like I did last year or if she wanted me to run with her this time. She thought about it and decided she wanted me to run it with her. So this was a really fun mother/daughter race.

J was so excited for her race that she kind of talked a lot of friends into running it too. I took this picture and thought "I can see this at graduation"


She did really well in her race! She was a little discouraged at first because a whole ton of kids took a shortcut and ended up in front of us, but since it wasn't the officially timed race it wasn't too big of a deal. I just reminded her that the only thing that mattered in this race was that she had fun and that she finished!

The end was a little rough for her. She had run her heart out and she was feeling it. But she didn't give up and she sprinted into the finish line.

She finished the mile in 9 minutes and 40 seconds! Which for a six-year-old is pretty darn amazing but it was also about a 4 minute PR from the previous year. I was so surprised and pretty proud of that little girl!



While training with her I didn't want to be that overbearing, pushy parent who forces their kid to do what they like or that pushes them too hard and makes them hate the sport.  I worried about that a lot during this training process. But I just reminded myself that she asked to run it, and she asked me to run with her. Here is the key to what I think being successful at training your kids in a sport is: As long as you don't start taking this too seriously they will enjoy it.  I never pushed her to do any speed kind of workouts or even hills or anything like that. We kept it really simple. We ran around our block a few times until we hit a mile and we called that good. When she got tired or didn't feel like she could make the full mile, she stopped early and that's ok. When she said she felt like she could speed up, we picked up the pace a little. I let her be the leader on this.

When I could see that she was struggling a little but knew she had more in her and I made it into a game (we did Indian runs when this happened. M loves doing those too).

I helped her think positive thoughts by reminding her that she is strong and she can do hard things.

We stretched after every run and talked about how awesome she is and all the good things about that day's run.

As a parent coaching your child, the most important thing to remember is that when they are this little, the most important thing isn't that they are winning or PRing, it's that they are enjoying it and having fun.

How old were you when you started running?

What was your favorite sport growing up?

Parents: Do your kids play sports or like the same sports you do?



19 comments:

  1. I think it's awesome that she loves to run! I wish that I had started running when I was her age :) I was 30 when I started, LOL

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    1. I was super lucky to have a brother who ran in high school and going to his meets I immediately loved the atmosphere and wanted to run so I started when I was 9!

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  2. I love that there are these opportunities for kids! When my boys were in grade school, they had to run a mile and they were timed. They were always so excited to tell me how they did! I didn't start "running" until I was an adult, but as a kid we ran and biked all the time.

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    1. I know! I’m so glad her school started doing these races. I also love that my kids like to be pretty active and play outside. I hope your kids always love to run and be active! Have a great day Wendy!

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  3. Awww this is so great! Long may she run. I think your point about it being fun should carry well past those early years and into adulthood. Unless we're being paid to run, it should be fun!

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    1. I agree! Do something you love to do and it will always be fun as long as you keep it a hobby! Thanks Teamarica!

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  4. I love this so much! I am currently coaching girls on the run for 3-6th graders and I love their enthusiasm

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    1. Oh yay! How long of a run do they get to do? I hope you have so much fun and use it as a great bonding experience with your girls!

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  5. This is awesome! I think it’s great when kids want to run because their parents do. It’s great that you could coach her as well. I only started running when I was 40. I didn’t participate in sports as a kid nor did my parents. My stepdaughter ran for a while but then she stopped. She’s more into the gym and yoga. Which is great too - we had hope do our running would have worn off on the kids but unfortunately it didn’t.

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    1. Teaching by example is one of the best ways to teach. Even if it’s not running they choose to do, they know being active is important.

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  6. Good for you and GREAT for your daughter ;-) The only running I had as kid was in PE classes when we did the Presidential Physical Fitness test every year...and I hated it. I am not a natural-born sprinter, so I always felt so awkward and defeated trying to make my body go fast when it just couldn't do it. I had a pretty terrible PE teacher, too, who had his 5 or 6 favorite students who he always showcased, so the rest of us were made to feel like losers LOL My youngest daughter asked to run a 20K with me (on June 2), so I have been guiding her in her training. She doesn't want me to train with her, and I respect that. Not sure if she'll want me to run with her on race day, or if she'll want to do it on her own. None the less, I am so excited!!

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    1. Ugh I can relate to the bad PE coaches! I’m sorry you had to deal with that too. I’m so happy that you love running now. Oh I love that she wanted you to help train her for her race. I hope you and your daughter love running it! Let me know how that goes. Have a great day Kimberly.

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  7. I love that your daughter likes to run! I remember when my oldest son first asked to run with me and help him train for his first 5K - made me so happy...especially since 5 years later he's running for his HS cross country team :) I hope your daughter continues to enjoy running!

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    1. Oh I love that! I hope my kids keep loving it enough to run in high school! Have a great day Michelle!

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  8. Love this! My daughter's run too, they are almost 8 and 5. They have been doing races for 3-4 years now and have a 2k coming up in a few weeks.
    Way to go!

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    1. So fun to have both of them running! My younger daughter doesn’t seem quite as into it but maybe when she gets a turn to race she will like it!

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  9. I think that is awesome the way you helped your daughter and made it about her while enjoying your mother/daughter time!! Great job Mom!!

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  10. What a wonderful experience for you all!

    I started running when I was about 35. I was never a super athletic kid. I did dance and hunter/jumper and that was about it. Our ten year old does do some running and some triathlons, but he's not really into team sports and he's not crazy competitive. He is working on his black belt in karate, but that's about all he wants to do. I will sign him up for the 5Ks he asks for, help him train, and then I try to ride it out on race day - sometimes, he suddenly decides he's not into it, and that can be a tough day for everyone. :(

    That being said, as long as kids are kept busy doing something, it's a good thing.

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  11. This is so great to read. My daughters are too young to "coach" on anything, but I am so excited to be a part of their fitness/sports journey once they are. I definitely don't want to be the pushy, overbearing parent either. She will always remember and cherish those moments with you!

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