This is another installment in my (sixth) Week of Lists: one fun and awesome list posted every day for seven days on a variety of topics.
Having run nearly eighteen and a half klicks this morning, one might think I’m wallowing under a halo of personal achievement. But every Sunday morning when I’m out trudging through those long distances, alone or with my awesome running group, it’s tough not to have my mind wander back to home where my daughter is sitting (likely in front of the TV) amusing herself until I get back home.
And, as much as a dad needs his few hours of time out with friends or whoever, it’s a big sacrifice, all this training, that drags a guy away from his family and that ever-shrinking span of daddy-daughter time that continues to slip away… and away… and away… y’know?
Now, I know full-well that she can’t be out running eighteen klicks with us on a Sunday morning, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t be a part of the other aspects of distance running training, right?
Five Ways to Involve Your Six Year Old in Your Running Training
1 : Eat Properly
Drum roll… teaching moments?
I’ve been leading the half-marathon clinic for the last couple months, and a recurring theme seems to be proper nutrition. And as much as eating right on the trails is important, it’s the other twenty-two hours of the day that matter just as much if not more. Good nutrition starts at home, and if you’re a family like ours that tries to eat at home as much as possible, and keep the pantry stocked with healthy choices, then… drum roll… teaching moments? There is no reason you can’t tie all that healthy eating, and nutritious food modeling back to the big reason you’re doing it: to be a healthier person and to be a better runner. Kids get it. And, believe me, they will hold you to account if you bring them into that circle.
2 : Bike Race
Running with a group is fun. Running solo has it’s place, too. But now that spring seems to finally be upon us, running with a cycling kid at your side is one of the great pleasures of running parenthood.
My daughter has been practicing with a camera for as long as she could hold it in her tiny little hands. She takes decent pictures. Really. Not all of them are great works of photographic master-art, nor are they all completely in focus, but she’s getting better. That said, nothing makes her feel more important than me handing her the camera and telling her she’s in charge of pictures. And –while I’ll not be putting that notion to the test until later this summer– I can only imagine that importance will be magnified when I give the camera on race day and tell her I’m counting on her to get some good pictures and video of me running and finishing. That said, this is a skill that doesn’t need to wait until race day, either. Go out for a run with the express purpose of taking some photos and just make the kid the cameraman.
4 : Cheer Squad
Everyone loves to have someone waiting for them at the finish line. Making sure that your kids understand how awesome that great big cheer and an even bigger hug –sweaty or not– at the end of a race is, brings them into your race day. Again, the same thing goes for regular training runs, too. Cheering is so much more than hoots-and-hollers on the side of a race course. It’s a high five after a training run, it’s helping you record and track your distances on the computer, or it’s making sure you do your stretches when you stumble up the front steps.
5 : Just Run Together
just take your kid out for a few laps
And, of course, if all else fails you could just take your kid out for a few laps. Anything up to five klicks is completely manageable for a kid six or older, and it’s great way to let them spend time with you on the trails. Really. Just take it a little slower and be prepared to take a lot of walk breaks.