Training

Kids running at the Vitality Westminster Mile

How to get your kids into running

The Vitality Westminster Mile is open to ALL ages, making it the perfect event to introduce your kids to the joy of racing. However, just as you need to teach them to walk before they run, they should learn to run before they race. Luckily, kids love running! Whether it’s across the playground, round the garden or up the stairs, it is what they do best.

Running for the sake of running, though, is a different story, and you may face some stiff opposition to the idea of ‘going for a run’. To win your kids round, let them take the lead and make sure their running continues to be associated with fun. Speaking of which...

Make it fun

Kids run everywhere because they have energy to burn, but also because walking just isn’t as exciting. To introduce your kids to the concept of running as an activity in its own right, it’s crucial that they don’t lose sight of that element of fun. That might mean setting small (and achievable) challenges while you’re out – like racing to the next lamppost or running to the top of the hill – or using each run as a chance to explore...

Discover new places

Rather than plodding around the same old route (which is boring enough for adults, let alone kids), use your time spent running as an opportunity to explore different areas, or reach different landmarks. Let your kids take the lead – within reason – and the act of running will soon be seen as a rewarding experience.

Take to the trail

Off-road running offers more variety and opportunities for adventure than running on the road. It’s important to have a route planned out, and to take some provisions like water and a few snacks with you, but that extra amount of planning will be worth it when your kids are introduced to the scenery and wildlife that you can experience when running on trails.

Let them set the pace

While some children possess unique endurance abilities, for most – especially those younger than eight years old – the word ‘pacing’ just doesn’t compute. If your child can run for no more than 10 seconds at a time, let them stick to whatever strategy they’re most comfortable with. The goal, at this age and ability, should be to allow them to find the joy in running on their terms.

Do The Daily Mile

The Daily Mile is an initiative hoping to get all primary school children jogging or running one mile every day. It’s not about running quickly, the aim is simply to complete 15 minutes – or however long it takes – of exercise, with a few walking breaks if required. It’s success so far has been attributed to the fact kids do it in their school uniforms, it’s no extra workload for teachers, and it easily fits into the school day.

As well as the obvious exercise benefits of regular exercise, research published in the journal Plos One also found that The Daily Mile has ‘the acute benefit of refocusing and re-energising the children.’ To find out more, head to thedailymile.co.uk.

Try junior parkrun

Following the huge success of parkrun – free, weekly 5k events taking place across the country and around the world – junior parkrun was launched, and it’s proving to be every bit as popular. Taking place on the same morning as parkrun, the shorter, 2k events are aimed at children between the ages of four and 14. Ahead of the Vitality Westminster Mile, it is the perfect way to introduce your kids to group running, in an atmosphere that’s fun, friendly and noncompetitive. Find your local parkrun at parkrun.org.uk.