How to Get Your Kids Into Running

So, you want to get your kids into running. There maybe a lot of reasons why you want to get them into running. And whatever your reason is, it doesn’t matter.

So, you want to get your kids into running. There maybe a lot of reasons why you want to get them into running. And whatever your reason is, it doesn’t matter. I’m Jesse Funk, this is a show I call Runner’s High where we talk about everything running. And today, I’m going to give you five ways to get your kids into running.

If you haven’t been with me here before, and you want to make your kid a better runner, hit that subscribe button, stick around with me for new episodes of this show, Runner’s High every Tuesday and Thursday, where I talking about everything running, from training, to mental attitude, and everything in between.

Now, five reasons to get your kids into running or five ways to get your kids into running, there’s a lot of ways you can approach this. But the first thing I want to approach to you and say this is don’t. Don’t get your kids into running. And the reason I say that is, don’t make them do it if they don’t have to. Now, if it’s a health concern, that’s something different. But if you’re just like, I love running, so my kids need to love running, don’t do it.

That’s probably not going to go over well. One of the things that I think my parents did very, very well, and parenting obviously varies by person and personality. But here’s my opinion, for what that’s worth. One of the things I think my parents did very well is they allowed me to do the things I wanted to do and helped to foster my own desire to explore things. Running was something I wanted to do. It was something I wanted to do, because everybody else hated it. And I’m not sure exactly where that motivation came from, but that’s where it came from, for me.

So, I would say don’t get your kids into running. If they want to get in running, absolutely, help them learn about running, foster that love, but don’t force them into it because they’re going to hate running, and not going to stick with it. So, try to find something that they enjoy, something that is going to be fun, something that’s a challenge to them, that they want to take on. If you do those things, I think you’re in the right place. So, as we move on, assuming that your kid actually does want to get into running, let’s continue from there.

Again, this video is full of my opinions, so for what they’re worth. But this is something I think is important, not just when we’re talking about kids in this video, but when we’re talking about anybody who is the leader. As a parent, you’re the leader, right? You’re the leader of your children, lead them through this life, teach them about things, and I think it’s very important to lead by example. And that means if you want your kid to get in running, you should be running. Whether that means that you are already running, or you’re getting in running with them, lead by example. Lead a healthy life and give them an example of this is what you should do. And so if it’s not that, if it’s, and I don’t know you, obviously.

But as an extreme example, say you’re sitting there eating chocolate cream pie, and they have to run laps around the track as punishment. That’s a bad situation because you’re not leading by example. You’re saying rules for you, but not rules for me. That consistency, I think it’s very important for kids to see that the rules apply to everybody. And this activity is fun for everybody. That’s especially important, again, when number one, that don’t, but do if they’re interested in it. So, leading by example is huge when you want to get somebody to buy into what you’re doing. If you’re willing to do it, they’re going to be more willing to do it. So, leading by example is a big, big deal when you want to motivate somebody to do anything, let alone getting into running.

Number three, though, I love to run and it’s my thing, and I’ve got a whole YouTube channel about it, as I promote my brand and tell you about running and teach you about running is that you don’t necessarily need to run. So, tip number three is get into activities and sports that involve running but aren’t running themselves. They aren’t for everybody, me included. I kind of opted out of team sports, I wanted to do my own thing, and that’s partly how I ended up running. But there are plenty of good options that do involve running like soccer, or field hockey or lacrosse and basketball and football and there’s lots of different activities that involve running that are not just running. And sometimes that’s going to be more engaging for your kids.

So, again, that goes back to number one, what are they interested in, what kind of piques their curiosity, and then go with that. Now, I will say, somewhat annoyingly, that a lot of soccer players that I had the opportunity to meet in college in high school, were absolutely excellent distance runners, which makes sense if you think about it. It’s a 90 minute game, they’re sprinting up and down the field all the time, they have to have endurance to do it for 90 minutes. So, what’s going to make them a good distance runner? They have speed, they have endurance, and then now they only have to run for, in a 5K, 15 to 17 minutes. So, don’t think that by doing these other things they’re not going to be a good runner. If you’re a runner and you’re like, oh, I wish that they are getting running, building that fitness is going to be a big deal.

And, more importantly, when I talk to all the Olympians, on my Smart Athlete Podcast, comes out on Fridays here on this channel, and any podcast platform you listen to podcasts on. We talked a lot about the need to not specialize, and how when kids are involved in lots of different sports and lots of different activities, often those kids end up being more resilient later on. And it’s this stat about, I think it’s like the vast majority of NFL players play multiple sports.

And I think we don’t have the official stats, or I haven’t seen them. But I would guess the vast majority of Olympians probably played multiple sports as well. There are exceptions to this, like the gymnasts who, at such a young age, have to specialize and become really, really good because adults can’t compete at that. But there are other sports that require you to be older to compete at a high level.

So, as I round it out here, it isn’t important that we just go running, there are plenty of activities that involve running that are still going to give that fitness aspect of running, and possibly be more engaging. Now, if you don’t have the ability to go to a team or have your kids join a team, whatever it is, I know when I was younger, we didn’t have the means for me to join a private club or anything. We played on like the rec leagues and stuff because they were cheaper but even everybody isn’t able to afford that. And that is perfectly fine. There’s nice ways to do this and make it gamified. Anyway, and that is to go explore, find some trails, trails you can run on. It’s a lot more engaging to run through a series of trails, than it is to just go run down the street, unless you’ve got some fun architecture or things like that to look at.

When you run to the trails, it’s an exploration through the woods, right? You can stop, learn about woods, if you’re into that kind of thing. You can teach your kids about this kind of tree. And now there’s this kind of bird and let’s talk about animals, and let’s look at plants, and make it a whole day of exploration. You can plan it out if you want, if you have these kind of trails where it’s like starting point, and then there’s a lookout, let’s run to the lookout and we’ll hang there for a little while.

And let’s run to this other feature. Whatever it is, those little things, little games, you can probably make up with your kid that’s going to engage them in learning about the natural world and running while they’re doing it, kind of distracting them and getting them into running to make it a game. So, you can take it as a free activity and spice it up a little bit by making it an exploration of the world around them by going out for trail runs.

My last tip, number five, is make it social. And I’ve already kind of touched on this. But if your kid is interested in specializing in track, there is actually an AAU track, and that is for amateur athletics. You can get into AAU even as young as eight years old and do track events. There’s different age-graded events by two years until you get past 18, and then the age grading is different from there on. But as a young person, as a kid, from where talking middle elementary onwards, you can get into AAU track if you want to.

So, if you have the ability, your kid wants to do track, has the burning desire to do it, then look up AAU, try to find your local meet, your local team, and they will be able to guide you, and they’ll be able to give you kind of the coaching ability that somebody like me who’s been in the sport for a long time has to get hands on kind of one-on-one mentoring that you don’t necessarily have to try to look up all my videos and find the right things. They can give you specific feedback for your kid and help them with their specific limiters, blocks, successes, all those kinds of things. Having a coach is invaluable.

So, having it be social, letting it be a fun thing, where they can meet friends, meet other people that are into running, or whatever event they’d like to do in track, because it doesn’t just have to be about long distance running even though that’s my thing. There’s so many cool events in track that you can meet different people that do all kinds of different things. Maybe your kid wants to be a hurdler. I recently talked with an Olympic hurdler, Toyin Augustus.

She’s a really, really cool lady. And as I discussed with her on the Smart Athlete Podcast, again, comes out on Fridays, hit that subscribe button, stick around with me for those. As I discussed with her, sometimes the event chooses you. You know? I was never going to be a great hurdler or a great sprinter, just not in the cards for me. But I made a pretty decent distance runner and I enjoyed it.

So, doing that AAU track actually gives your kid the opportunity to explore different events in track that might interest in instead of just going, hey, we’re just going to run. So, those are my five tips on how to get your kids into running. Have your kids gotten into running? Leave it down in the comments below. Let me know what’s your story, what’s their story, how are they doing? Do they like it? Do they enjoy it? I’d love to see more people get into the sport as sport continues to grow and thrive here in the US. I’d love to hear from you. So, again, leave me a comment down below, let me know your story, your kids story, what you guys are doing. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.


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