Okay, so this is somewhat of a “blog takeover” as my 9-year-old runner girl is the author of all previous blog posts, and I am a total “newbie” at blogging (Read into this, “Please, have patience with my writing and blog design skills!”), but in reflecting on the year anniversary of the Mother-Daughter Run Club with our local ivivva showroom http://info.ivivva.com/vienna/vienna-showroom and my experience with the before school co-ed kid run club, friends of friends both local and a far (across US borders!) have wanted to talk as to the how’s and the what’s of kids’ run clubs, and I would love to encourage more parents to give it a try. It has been tons of fun and would love to chat more with all of the family runners about your ideas. I was definitely intimidated by the idea initially, but start simple. All you need to start a run club for/with kids is 3 things:
1. A safe place for kids to run – This may be your local high school track like we use for the Mother-Daughter Run Club, an elementary school track, which in the case our elementary school was more like a trail around the playground in the before school run club, or a local paved running trail that is free from traffic, we used a local bike running path that is part of the system of old railways turned into bike paths for our holiday “glow” run. The school track is ideal as everyone can run their own pace and be in line-of-sight of everyone and is a safe, even surface for both big and little feet. No one can get lost. There is often some type of bathroom facility or port-a-potty close by, and mileage is easily measured and can be logged. We have found even during track season the track is not in use on Sundays and if the infield is being used for lacrosse or soccer games, it just adds more fanfare to the club run. The trail also provides some of the security but not as much. Kids need to be with a parent or of a certain age. It would need to be an out and back format with a time limit and safety procedures and expectations discussed (ie. What to do if a bike approaches? Stay on the path. Stay to the right. Good opportunity to teach trail etiquette.)
2. Time and the heart (aka. enthusiasm) to volunteer- Before school? After school? Weekend mornings or afternoons? Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly? Figure out what works for you and your family schedule and your kid’s level of interest. It needs to work for you and your family before it can work for any one else’s. If approaching your school PTA to volunteer to add it to the before or after school list, then there will be a set of finger prints to submit and their schedule, but if doing a parent and child meet-up, keep it simple and what works for you and the interested group.
3. Kids!- Besides your own, these can come from your children’s school, your neighborhood, your running friends children, a local running store you get on board…look around and see who wants to join in! Local run meet-ups or groups often have mother and father runners who would love to share this love and activity time with their children but need a place and someone to encourage them. My Moms Run This Town group have been a fun-filled group of families with running kids and the national group has hosted virtual Kids Run This Town events that you can participate in with your group. Our group also participated one run club in the Hug a Runner virtual 5k.
Other helpful ideas to consider:
Are you going to track how far they run and how? We use jelly bracelets and hand them out for each lap around the track the kids run. Originally, these were just extra “trick or treat” items I had lying around the house but I found they are bought easily on Amazon for under $10. Girls On The Run often uses rubber bands in the same way and Running with the Stars running program has the adults write a letter on the kids’ arms as they come around with the goal of spelling a motivational word like “perseverance”. You don’t have to do this. We have also had run clubs with the goal of just getting out there and running together but maybe with a fun theme like an evening timed “Glow Run” with glow sticks and flashing gear to wear or “Track and Treat” with relays and track games. In the Mother-Daughter Run Club and the group we did at school, we track and compile the miles to reach goals like “5k,” “Half-Marathon,” and “Marathon.” Kids love striving to become a “marathoner” in the group.
Another helpful thing to investigate or consider is soliciting support from a local running or athletic store or running group. As I mentioned previously, I found our local ivivva showroom that was new in town to be very supportive. They were new in town and looking to offer some free fitness options to girls in our area. They offer our girls rewards as they hit mileage goals of merchandise and supply lemonade or hot chocolate as an after run treat. Many businesses and stores, I am sure would love to support and help publicize a family-based run club, they just need someone to ask them and be willing to volunteer.
Stay on the lookout for upcoming “take over” blog posts to chat about resources on children’s running, kids’
“training” plans and a brainstorm of running activities for kids’ run clubs for more run fun that you can even head out and do with just your own team of family runners.
What run activities do you participate in with your children?
What are some of your kid run club experiences or ideas?