Posted by: runsinthefamily | January 27, 2011

Kids running…

Coach Jay Johnson (blog/website here)  has an interesting post up right now;   The Kids are Alright.  He talks about kids and running – and if you read not just his post but the comments from various coaches and parents, it gets really interesting.  What is too much, too soon when it comes to kids and running?  How do you promote running?  Can we ever catch up to the Kenyans, who run from place to place, as a mode of transportation?

Coach Jay starts off by talking about his two year old daughter, who right now thinks of running as play.  It seems to me this is the best way to introduce running to kids.  I remember loving to run fast when playing freeze tag when I was little!  I think that is one reason soccer appeals to little kids – all the quick bursts of energy involved, and the competition of running to beat someone else to kick the ball.  With kids though, there is so much variation – you really have to take into account the child, how much physical activity they do, (and Coach Jay rightly points out kids do so much less now, because of tv and video games) and their temperament – whether they are competitive, wanting to beat everyone, who more social, wanting to just play with friends.

The reason Coach Jay brought up the topic is a few questions he received about a girl named Alana Hadley, who as a 13 year old is running super fast, and people are wondering if her training is too much for someone that age.  Running Times did an article about her ( click on her name to see) and asked coaches around the country, including Coach Jay, what they thought.   He in turn asked coaches he knows, and basically, the answer came back that “it depends!”  Coach Jay goes on to give a few guidelines to think about.

As a former youth runner myself, and now the mom of kids who run, I think the main point of the post, that “it depends on the child” is so true!  My parents didn’t push me to run, I asked to because my Dad was doing races and I wanted to also.  Even though I know there were races I wasn’t really “trained” for, I had fun and discovered on my own that if I ran a bit more, I could do better!  Even then, I didn’t run every day until high school.

With our kids, my husband and I emphasized physical activity – we want them to be active.  Running, swimming, baseball, whatever!  Our oldest took up swimming, the next one ran, did swimming, basketball, and soccer,  the third one did everything but ended up running also, and now the youngest does running and swimming and playing around.  Seeing their mom run, they all know running is something they can do their whole lives if they want to.  Mostly I am happy they like exercising so much!

Do you have kids who want to be like you and run?  Do you encourage it as a family activity?  I remember our family all running races together when I was little, does anyone else do that?



  1. Thank you for the resource! This was our first week of track practice and in the back of my mind I am always wondering, “Is this too much for them?” I didn’t get a chance to read the link this morning, but bookmarked it for weekend reading. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks Rebecca! Even for high school runners, there is so much variation, the answer was still, “it depends!” Some kids can ( and want ) high mileage, some can’t. There is no hard and fast rule unfortunately!

  3. Great post Connie! As you know Kaelynn likes to run a little but at the age of 8 she isn’t ready to run a lot. She is just in it for the “cute running outfits” at this point…she told me that! 🙂

    • awww, that’s what it’s all about, right? 🙂

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