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Make Running a Family Sport

By Kara Deschenes on 08/27/2015 | Featured Columns & Series

As parents we work hard to provide opportunities for our kids while giving them the tools they need to succeed. Inspiration, motivation and a strong work ethic are all virtues we hope to impart on our children along way. 

So what happens when the tables are turned?  With a Girls on the Run girl, you might suddenly be experiencing role reversal, gleaning influence from your daughter’s new healthy outlook. 

Take advantage of her newfound perspective by not only embracing the attitude, but also joining in on the healthy fun. Try these tips for turning running (and fueling!) into a family sport:

Take it to the track. Utilize a local track to combat differing paces. By hitting up the track, you’ll ensure that no matter the speed, the whole family is within sight while running. Try running the straights and walking or jogging the curves. If someone emerges with fast feet, have that person double back occasionally to run alongside the rest of the family. He/she will still get a good workout (by running twice the distance) and enjoy time with the fam!

Map it out! Find a route from your front door or on a nearby trail that equals a one-mile loop (you can use mapmyrun.com, a GPS watch, or the old-fashioned method of driving the path by car to find the exact distance). If you’re just starting out, set a goal to walk the loop together, three times per week. Up the ante by gradually increasing to two loops and incorporating a walk/run switch-off. To make time go by even faster, try talking about your child’s day or playing games like, I Spy. Before you know it, your workout will be done and you’ll be craving more!

Bring on the bike or blades. Depending on your current fitness level, you might be faster than your daughter when it comes to running (or vice-versa!). If this is the case, don’t shy away from mixing things up. Have the faster runner run, while the other person bikes or rollerblades alongside. Just don’t forget to change roles often so that everyone gets the chance to run, ultimately increasing individual fitness.

Register for a fun-run together. There’s something magically addicting about the finish line of a race. After training together, try signing up for an event as a family. Make sure to find a race that offers various distances (most family-friendly events have a 5k in addition to smaller kids’ distances) to fit everyone’s ability. Not only will you enjoy the race-day endorphins together, but you’ll also have fun bonding over the memories for days to come.

Make fueling a family event. Since running takes a lot of energy, it’s important to consider the nutrition you’re using to fuel your body. Talk about how food impacts exercise with your kids and involve them in meal planning. Help them see the correlation between healthy eating and athletic performance as a potential motivator to eat those greens! If you have picky eaters, try sneaking in more veggies by blending them into sauces and soups. There are several cookbooks on the market written to help you become a sneaky vegetable ninja.

Keep the healthy motivation going, long after the Girls on the Run season ends by incorporating running into your family life. Not only will you enjoy the physical results, but you’ll also create a bond to last a lifetime.

Kara Deschenes

Author

Kara Deschenes is a former collegiate tennis player turned runner, with a passion for inspiring people to be active. As a health and fitness writer and editor, her work has been published by Women's Running magazine, IRONMAN, and Active.com. When she's not playing on a trail you'll find her soaking in lake life with her puppies. Follow Kara's latest healthy adventure @KaraDeschenes.

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