How to Make Running Fun For Kids

Teaching our children to love running and get active

What makes kids want to run? Is it the cool shoes, the adrenaline from running, or maybe it’s just because they’re bored. At the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing. Is it FUN? Our children are the future and at a young age we’ve learned that having fun is essential to a child’s development. What we’ve also learned is that being active is a part of their social development, so in order to keep their little feet moving, we’ve provided some tips to getting your child to have fun while running and ultimately stay active. Let’s start!

Learn The Technique

By nature, kids know exactly how to have fun. Whether it’s at school playing with their classmates or outside kicking the ball with the dog, they’ll at some point have the urge to incorporate fun into whatever they’re doing. What they don’t have are the skills or techniques on how to run and that’s where the mistake is made.

Many times, coaches or parents assume a child is inherited with these skills or have them run repeatedly to build endurance when they should be learning the proper techniques on how to run. Pointing out the mistakes your child makes in their technique will help them to learn the correct way on how to run and run faster.

Try some of these techniques with your youngster to get them started:

  1. When running, make sure your child is standing tall and not leaning forward at the waist, as this exhausts the leg muscles and can lead to your child using their heels instead of the forefoot to run. Their knees should be slightly bent and heels should be barely touching the ground.
  2. Another common mistake is over extending the foot used to lead, which causes the runner to continuously stop and start again. Instead of extending the foot, place the foot directly under the hips. This results in a smoother, efficient shift in legs.
  3. Make sure your child isn’t swinging their arms chaotically like a loose cannon. This can waste a lot of energy and slow them down. The arms should be held at a ninety-degree angle and swung from the shoulders. Their hands should swing from the back pocket and back to the chin.
  4. Start your child off with short distances, 1km runs or less, and have them perform drills slowly and gradually increase the speed. Spending five to 10 minutes on these techniques will get them to run faster and have fun while doing it!

Being Their Pace Buddy

Kids have no clue what it means to pace themselves. While we know its necessary to run at a pace to reduce exhaustion, kids must be taught this skill and learn by example so they’ll know slow, steady and pace wins the race!

Start your child off running slow and see how they do. Record their run time with a stop watch and see if they are indeed pacing themselves. Make sure to pay attention to any signs of fatigue or dehydration. If this occurs, have them take a short walking break and proceed to run again.

More importantly, make sure they enjoy it!

You don’t want them to become discouraged about running because they’re running too far or too fast. Remember, it’s all about fun!

Gear Up

Nothing beats having fun while running, than a pair of good shoes and workout gear to get your little runner fired up about running. Proper running gear is essential for the most effective way to eliminate injuries. Here’s some essential gear to help avoid problems that can occur while running:

  • Inexpensive running shoes (non-technical or moderate running shoes)
  • Comfortable clothing according to the weather (shorts, t-shirts, socks, tights, sweats, lightweight pullover hoodie jacket)
  • Water bottle; PACK LOTS OF WATER!

If you’re having trouble finding some fun and funky gear to get your child hyped about running, try Academy Sports, as they have a wider selection of running gear.

Building Motivation

There’s no better feeling than when a child runs because of the satisfaction or accomplished feeling they get out of it. The beauty behind achievements lies in knowing you’ve earned it. Having your child recognize they did something well is rewarding and motivates them to keep going. The more they’re motivated, the more fun it becomes.

Try rewarding your little runner with something as simple as a new t-shirt or headband to run in. Keep the rewards basic, but don’t let the reward distract them from discovering the core value of running. Let’s keep them focused on the goal.

Time to Race

So, they have the skills, the pace, gear and motivation, now it’s time to get moving and get your child racing all by themselves. Community races or field days at school are perfect for a child’s first run. They’ll be excited to run knowing they’ve worked for this moment.

nemours logo

If they’re up for it, start your child off with a small kid friendly race that can help boost their confidence. Our Nemours Kid Dash makes Riverside Dash a great place for the entire family. Not only does it give your child the opportunity to run like their parents in the big race, but have fun while doing it.

For more information or to register for any of the Riverside Dash races, visit our homepage today.

Happy Training!