A runner is born. The wee one tried running, loved it. (Let’s be careful!)

Running is something kids do when they play. Why not run for fun and exercise? (flickr.com, lulumon athletica, creative commons license)

Sometimes when the BF’s daughter is with him for the weekend, we trade off when it comes to our work outs. I’ll work out Saturday, and he’ll work out Sunday, for instance.

Well, today, since it was his turn and he wanted to do a long ride, I took the wee one to family swim at the gym for a couple of hours. Then, she wanted to go for a run, she said.

(We had talked previously about running once or twice; she mentioned she wanted to try it. I told her I’d do it with her, but that she’d need to remember her shoes and gear… I wasn’t going to nag her, because I didn’t want to push her away from a sport before she’d even begun it. This was the weekend apparently. Yippee!)

She asked how far we should go — I said we’d go for a 1/4-mile just to get started. She asked how many blocks that was. I told her. She seemed nervous, and asked how many blocks we had walked before hitting the pool. I told her it was almost double what we’d run. And suddenly she was all about how many blocks she could run. (It was really cute.)

Fast forward to the run. We went home, threw on our Asics running shoes (cute; we wear the same brand!), grabbed the dog and out we went. We got two blocks down (approximately the half-way point for a 1/4-mile run), and she wanted to go farther. Then she wanted to know how many blocks were in a mile…

That’s when I knew a runner had been born!

Runners push themselves to their limits. They push through the pain. The go as far as they can to see if they can.

In fact, that mentality is one of the reasons this blog exists.

So knowing that going all out and not taking the time to build up properly could result in injury, I made sure we paced ourselves and we didn’t go too far. We ran at a nice, easy pace 11:00/mile pace (maybe even slower). And we stopped when she felt a little tired.

At first, she stopped and wanted to sit down. (After making sure she was OK, wasn’t hurt, and wasn’t really that tired, I explained what “active recovery” was and that she could walk to catch her breath, but that all out stopping would make it more difficult to keep going. And no, she was never gasping for breath. We chatted most of the run.)

I don’t remember what specifically we talked about while we ran, but we bonded over talking about soccer running and running running — and how they’re different. “It’s different…” she said. “I like running!”

After we’d run 1.37 miles and were back home, I reminded her that we need to pick up a couple of dinner items at the grocery store.

“Can we run there?!” she asked excitedly.

“I don’t see why not,” I responded.

So we did. And we ran back, too. And our grand total for the first run was 2.25 miles.

She enjoyed watching me map it out on the site I use to see how far I’ve gone. And she couldn’t wait to tell her daddy all about it.

“She has a nice, natural gait, doesn’t she?”  And he smiled proudly.

But, is running good for children? And how much is too much?

It’s no secret that childhood obesity is on the rise. So getting exercise and being active in general during childhood are important to leading a healthy lifestyle as an adult. Kids run around and chase each other when they play, so why not morph that into running for fitness if the child is willing?

Legendary runner and author Hal Higdon outlines a few simple rules of thumb to apply when getting kids into running. They are:

  1. Be a good role model
  2. Make running fun
  3. Run with them
  4. Let them set their own pace
  5. Don’t overtrain or over-race them

Those five points make sense to me. And leading by example now (when I’m concerned about and well-versed in injury prevention) is much better than had I tried to do so last year or especially in 2007.

So we’ll warm up. We’ll stretch. We’ll cool down. We’ll discuss cross-training (she already likes to swim). And we’ll listen to our bodies.

I feel so blessed to share this gift with my boyfriend’s daughter. But I won’t be signing her up for any of the dozens of kids events that have popped up at races recently. If she wants to run in one of them, she’ll ask. And if she doesn’t, we’ll simply enjoy our special time running together.

1 Comment

Filed under Kids, running

One response to “A runner is born. The wee one tried running, loved it. (Let’s be careful!)

  1. Tal

    Very cool. She sounds like a natural athlete!