Here’s a true story: When I was 13, I was inactive, overweight, and a poor student. My parents persuaded me to join my school cross-country team to get some exercise. The interactions and positive experiences I had while running changed my life. I had more energy, I was happier, and I started doing better in school.
Here’s how to safely get children of all ages excited about running – for life.
How far? Not very. At this age, playing chase or racing Dad to the mailbox is a great way to introduce kids to running.
Run/walk ratio: Run segments should be no longer than 10 to 20 seconds. Walk one to two minutes between each.
Ages 7 to 9
How far? Start with 400m. Every week, add a minute or two until you both can complete 1.5km. If your kid is having a blast, keep adding time until you’re up to 5km or so – at that point you can talk about run/walking a 5-K together.
Run/walk ratio: Jog for 10 seconds and walk for 40 seconds. Each week, increase the run portion by five seconds and decrease the walk portion by five seconds until you’re at a 30/30 ratio.
Ages 10 to 12
How far?Begin with 800m. Each week, run an additional 400m. Build up to whatever mileage feels comfortable – most kids this age can run up to a 10-K.
Run/walk ratio: Start with one minute running/one minute walking. If that seems too easy, raise it to 2:1 – work up to 4:1 if she continues to feel comfortable.