We all loved running as kids, and it’s one of the first joys in life. With their boundless energy children can outshine even adults when it comes to running. However, if we are talking about getting competitive, there are a few key points that parents need to keep in mind to ensure that their child continues to run at the highest capability, without hurting themselves. There are times when children are pushed a little more than they should, and there are times when you need to work hard to motivate them. Here’s a list of what parents need to keep in mind while encouraging their kids to run.

Age appropriate
Running allows children to be physically active at their own pace. As with adult training, if they progress too quickly they run the risk of injury, especially since their muscles haven’t developed to the same strength as most adults. This needs to be kept in mind at all times. Kids shouldn’t start running before kindergarten. Kids between the ages of 5 and 8 should be encouraged to run, but not before that. From ages 9-12 is when they can engage in competitive running, and you will find many races that accept entries for runners over the age of 12.

Get the right shoes
Being a low-cost sport, running is accessible to one and all. All one needs is a good pair of running shoes. Parents need to make sure that they get the right shoes for their kids and not compromise on quality. Barefoot running is encouraged at a younger age since this helps your feet to develop intrinsic muscles and proper running technique. However, it’s hard enough for practiced runners, so don’t force kids to run barefoot. Instead, try to get them used to minimalist shoes, and ones with not too much midsole cushioning, which will help improve their technique naturally.

Make it their passion
Never force a sport on to a child, especially something as simple as running. While adults are very much aware of the runner’s high, it wouldn’t be immediately apparent to kids. Let them experience it themselves. If running is forced down their throat, eventually they will discard it or do it with resentment. It is important that the love for running comes from the child itself. The parents and coach should only encourage rather than force.

Mix it up
All runners know it is very beneficial to cross-train. Get your kid involved in other activities that will boost the overall fitness. Everything from cricket to basketball to football and hockey requires a fair amount of running, but also works out other parts of your body. This means well-rounded fitness.

We hope this helps parents out there with honing their child’s running passion! So, lace up (minis and adults!) and happy running!

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