Running, Kids and The First 5K

5K run for rock full res This last weekend my daughter ran her first 5K. She is seven. And it is funny…while brainstorming tips for helping your kid “Run Their First 5K” I came up with a whole bunch of warnings. If, like us, you are building a lifestyle of running, your kids will notice certain things, certain habits and will want to mimic you. Side effects are as follows.

Consider yourself warned:

  1. Our kids notice mom and dad’s glass of chocolate milk after their long runs. And when they started running, the first thing out of their mouths when we got home was, “Can I have chocolate milk now?” Telling them their run wasn’t long will get you nowhere. Every run is long to them.
  2. Oh, they’ll want new shoes, and running clothes. And honestly, who can blame them? Thank goodness for Target picking up a line of inexpensive kid’s athletic clothes.
  3. Endless amounts of energy on days they don’t run. This applies to adults to. And other sports. I’ve just noticed on our ‘un-athletic’ days, they are climbing the walls and I am pulling out my hair.

Kids and their first 5K

Honestly, I have no special knowledge when it comes to running with kids. For some reason our daughter loves to run. She often chooses to run along side her brother instead of ride bikes with him. She asked us to do a 5K. We didn’t bully her into it. She is like a foreigner to me in this regard. I certainly didn’t like running as a kid. Even now it is more a habit than an enjoyable hobby.

But here are a few thoughts:

  1. Girl running Encourage slow and consistency instead of speed. Sprinting out of the start is natural for kids. And after they reach their max, they stop and don’t want to move. Even 1 mile is long for their little legs. Teach them “Go Slow to Go Long”. My daughter averages somewhere between 12.30 to 14 minute mile pace. We go slow.
  2. Start with .75 miles and build from there. Sign them up for a 1 mile kid’s fun run first. They are usually a ton of fun and have prizes for all the kids.
  3. Change your expectations. I always encourage my daughter to slow down and try to keep jogging. But when her side hurts or we hit a hill, I let her call the walk breaks. Walking is just fine.
  4. Get good shoes. Now what each person defines as “good” might be different. But we tried a cheap pair of Walmart sneakers and her form was horrible. The sole of the shoe was too stiff. In my opinion kids need a minimalistic shoe or one that has a lot of natural flex near the ball of the foot. Here are two brands we’ve liked: Nike Free 5.0 and Vivo Barefoot. We also saw some nicer ones at Target for roughly $30.
  5. Even at short distances, carry water for them. Not sure why, but my kids drink a lot of water! And they have a harder time pushing through to the end when they are thirsty.
  6. As always, involve friends and family to make it more fun!
  7. There are a ton of fun races coming up, even ones that encourage Halloween costumes. Take advantage of it!

little girl running


4 comments on “Running, Kids and The First 5K
  1. Nice job! My kids have been running for years and love anytime they get to do a race. The seven year old is especially keen. The four year old sometimes not as much. This year we did the Color Me Rad 5km and the four year old had enough entertainment along the way he never once asked to be carried. Totally agree on the water. Makes all the difference in the world having it available. Oh and LOVE that the kids want their post run recovery drink too. So awesome!!

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