I enjoy teaching people to run. I love when there is enthusiasm after someone runs their first mile or being there with them when they complete their first 5k or PR a race. As a running coach these are exciting moments that, to me, are akin to being a mom and your child reaches a new milestone. Chest puffing pride abounds. So what happens when you are a mom and a running coach and you try to get your kids to love running too? There has only been a modicum amount of chest puffing in my house in this regard but I've found the secret.
Kids run. Sometimes they run a lot. Kids enjoy running most of the time when they don't realize they are running. Make kids run for any reason other than fun and you are asking to get an earful of whining. Maybe deservedly. I have tried to get my 2 kids, ages 5 and 9, involved in running. They have had some desire but I almost squashed it when I tried to make them do it, even when I thought what we were doing was fun. So I eventually learned after some tears and a lot of "why are we doing this?" and I backed off. The kids seem to like that I run. They know I am a coach and often accompany me while I water stop my runners. They always seem to enjoy when I come home with a new medal and they have spent countless hours on the race course cheering mom on. I thought I could lure them into running races with the promise of a medal but it seems most kids races either don't give a medal (a big mistake in my mind) or they are clearly inferior. I know there are arguments to be made about the value of medals, who should get them and when but when talking about kids and racing, especially younger kids, I feel they are a great incentive to get them involved. Since they are hard to come by in regular races I have turned to virtual races.
Virtual races are great to do with kids because you can run them anywhere, at any time of day, you generally have a few days to complete them and you more often then not get a medal. Score, score, score and SCORE! The last virtual race I did with my kids was the Pi Day 5k created by Gametiime. Since I knew my kids could not run a 5k all in one shot my plan was to run one mile a day over 3 days with the last day adding a little extra 0.1. The kids were so excited to earn their Pi Day medals and schwings that they were rearing to get out there (our neighborhood) and run their distances. I let them run/walk when needed and the beauty of doing it anytime really helped them complete their goals. My daughter was able to finish up her last mile with me and my running group (they were running our planned Pi Day 5k group run) and eat pie! My son had a previous engagement so he ended up running his last mile, by himself, in the pouring rain. But he did it and he was very proud of himself. I was proud of him too with plenty of chest puffing that morning.
Now Gametiime has a new virtual race, The Puppy Run, and when I showed my daughter the awesome puppy medal her head nearly exploded. If you were to know my daughter (and Pip Running namesake) you would know that she loves dogs and cute, fluffy puppies are the bees knees. The Puppy Run medal with the dogs feet forming a heart was really too much for her and we were doing this race. The medal is to be hers. The bag and Frisbee are great too but the medal, and the race name of course, is what is getting her and my son excited to do this. Our 2 dogs are too old to run this with us but I'm sure the medals will be named Courage and Rocco and we'll notice lots of other cute dogs on our runs that remind of us Courage and Rocco. I am planning to have the kids run this race similarly to the Pi Day 5k. I'll have them break up their runs if they need to, run/walking is allowed and mom will give them subtle tips to help them run longer. The time doesn't matter at this point so much as completing their goal, earning their medals and participating in something as a family.
Virtual races are awesome.