If you are an avid runner, then you may think that there is probably nothing better than finding a loved one to enjoy your passion with you. Actually, there is an even better option – getting your entire family into loving running and joining you for your daily runs and races.
Unfortunately, to get your family and especially your children interested can take quite a bit of effort and time, but once you get everybody at home to enjoy going out for a run – you will feel even better after you complete your daily mileage when you are with them by your side.
Here are the 5 golden rules for running as a family which you should follow in order to keep every member of the family engaged, interested and motivated to continue running:
The Rules of Family Running:
- This is not only and all about you
If you have been running by yourself for years, you have probably gotten accustomed to your own running habits, routes, pace, distances and goals. Well, when you start going out for runs with the family you need to remember that this is not only about what you want and expect anymore. Running with the family means making sure that you are spending quality time with your family members while having fun and staying active. So, set aside those running goals, and let your family set its own pace, instead of forcing them into hurrying and running faster. If you adopt a drill sergeant attitude, you can be sure that pretty soon there will be kids and family members who will be crying, nagging and wanting to quit forever! So, don’t ruin this experience for them – let everybody have their fun and find the joy of running by themselves instead of trying to impose this love on them forcefully. Also, remember that you have had years of training so it is not fair to ask your children and loved ones to try keep up with your pace and expectations. By taking this more leisurely and fun approach will it is more likely lead to your children learn to enjoy running and take up your running habit for the future as well.
- Include the children in the planning
Kids love to feel engaged in the planning of activities and be able to make some of the decisions in them! This is why it recommended that you include the entire family when planning your next weekend run together. Ask the where they prefer to run, whether they want to see a specific site or place, as well as how fast they want to run next time? You can suggest a run-walk strategy in order to ensure that everybody’s OK with the mileage you have set for the family run. Take the time and ask your kids what they think, and they will return the gesture with a higher appreciation of running and going out running as a family in the future!
- Accept the fact that there will be a lot of stopping and pausing
Make sure you are well prepared and patient enough for all the stopping, pauses and breaks you will be taking when you go out for your family run! It is perfectly normal that your children will need a break for a drink or snack, to pee or to get their laces tied at some point or another. Make sure you don’t pressure your loved ones to go on running when they clearly need a break. Being overly assertive can make them hate running in the long run, so be careful not to create such an aversion to running in your children from an early age. Deal with the fact that they are not as physically trained and fit as you, and that they will need to go slower and take breaks from time to time. Leave your time goals and sprints for when you are running alone or with your running club!
- Enjoy the sites as you go
Remember, you are out with your family so that you can spend more time with them and enjoy the outdoors while staying physically active. Make sure you point out different types of trees, animals, flowers and other views which you come upon during your family run. Stopping to enjoy a view and learning something new is what your kids will love about these runs. Make sure they stay interested in going to your family running events in the future by taking them to places which will impress them and which you know they will enjoy! If you feel that there is frustration building up, make sure you stop for a fun game or some joke telling to take their minds of the possible fatigue and soreness they feel in their feet and legs. This will make getting back home without all the crying and complaining possible once again!
- Make sure you do it for the family time together
Of course, it is great to teach your children to lead physically active lives, but what is more important about these family runs is the time you are all spending together and the memories you are making for yourself and for your family members as well. Make sure everybody is enjoying the experience. Stop and take pictures with the family, have fun on the way, stop for some games and fun, and just enjoy your time out with the ones you love.
If you follow these rules and stay away from the temptation of forcing your children to love running, then you most probably will end up with happy children who will learn how to actually enjoy running. Leave the long distances, the speed runs and the serious training for your solo runs. Try to abstain from projecting your personal ambitions for them, and rather take the time and opportunity to spend some quality time with your children and your family instead. Let them learn by themselves that running and staying active can be a fun and enjoyable thing. Who knows, maybe one day they will become your best running buddies too!