Tips on How to Get Your Whole Family Running

Tips on How to Get Your Whole Family Running

There are many reasons why an individual chooses to run. He or she may begin running as a way to start a new and healthy lifestyle. He or she may run to test his or her limitations and train to push beyond. He or she may even use the time while running as a form of a therapeutic escape from reality, if even for just a brief moment. However, running can certainly become more fun and engaging when you have a running buddy, whether it is running with a friend, partner, sibling, or child. Running as a family provides a healthy activity both mentally and physically for all involved that gets family members outside and away from technology for a bit while likely bringing the family together. Running is an ideal sport for almost any age with minimal environmental and economic barriers so the idea to get the whole family excited about running is a no-brainer.

When is it safe for children to get involved in running?

Modern designs of light-weight baby-joggers allow for at least one of the parents to run almost immediately with their babies while safely pushing their children along for the ride. Whether a parent is running leisurely or training for an upcoming race, jogging strollers help to keep both the parent and child together while not interfering with a parent's workout. 

As the child begins to walk and enter pre-school, “running” may not fall into its classical definition when the family runs together. Starting with “running” games like chasing or racing for 30 seconds in the backyard or at a playground may be the first step in introducing running to small children. 

Young children (7-10 years old) and preteens (10-12 years old) may be difficult to convince initially, but starting with walking as a family is okay too. Or the parents can run and the kids can follow side by side while riding their bikes. Either option can be done a couple of times a week in a surrounding neighborhood or on a bike path. These activities get both the kids and parents off the couch, away from the phone, computer, and tv and encourage everyone to move. 

If the kids are enjoying family time together while being outside and starting to be active, over time you can slowly introduce walking and running intervals that increase in duration as the kids learn of their own physical capabilities. Children in the aforementioned age groups should safely be able to increase his or her distance of running up to 5 kilometers. As the child's endurance progresses, it would not be impossible to think of eventually running a 5 km race together at a family-friendly event.

How to structure a program that fits everyone's level?

There is no one right way to get the whole family involved in running and there may be different levels to consider within the family. Nevertheless, these differences in ability should not deter a family to try running as an activity that can be done together. 

If you are “running” with small children, bear in mind that they should not be running for long periods of time or distances. Games, breaks, and maybe even some snacks may be needed to keep the interest of the little ones. 

With older children, running as a family should not be thought of as a race, although, friendly competition may be alright between those with similar levels as that can help to build endurance and confidence. However, if you are more in the interest of using running as a tool to teach them about bonding, be sure to keep the pace relaxed and in tune with that of the slowest runner in the family. Gently remind yourself that family running times are sessions of connections and not necessarily to get in an incorporated workout for your training schedule.

For those members who are committed to training for a particular race distance, they do not have to skip out on the family fun, rather they may try to coordinate their warm-ups or cool-downs with the whole family. Having some flexibility by slightly modifying longer runs the day before or after family session runs, will endorse the family mentality while at the same time allow for a race training program to be achieved for the individuals' needs. 

What races are appropriate for families to participate in?

When the whole family has set a goal to participate in a race together after having worked up to the appropriate fitness level, there are several options to register as a family. Most events will be categorized as fun runs. These races have little to do with personal best times but rather to be simply enjoyed. Fun runs range in distances and will often have a theme attached to them like obstacle courses, inflatable balloons, mud or paint. The point is to be entertained while pursuing a healthy activity. 

Some major race events cater to the family atmosphere. Outside of the main event, there are usually shorter distance runs targeting all ages and levels, from 1000 meters to 5 km, so that a whole family may participate throughout a major race weekend.

Here are few examples of race weekends that include runs for the whole family that you can sign up for through World's Marathons:

1. Vilnius Christmas Run (3K, 6K, 12K)

Vilnius, Lithuania

December 15, 2019

2. EDP Lisbon Half Marathon (mini-champions race, family run/walk, 7K, 10K, 21K)

Lisboa, Portugal

March 22, 2020

3. Run in Marseille (6K, 10K, 21K, Marathon Relay, 42K)

Marseille, France

April 12, 2020

4. Zadar Night Run (2.5K, 5K, 10K, 21 K)

Zadar, Croatia

April 18, 2020

Running together as a family is beneficial on so many levels. Not only does it create a healthy activity but it also provides quality time together. Running in a stress-free environment can provide so many positive mental and physical gains for both the adults and the children without requiring too much financial investment. Outside of the fact that running as a family can create quality time, bonding, and closeness, it may also help to assist in the child developing a passion for the sport as well.