Mothers and daughters who run together – have fun together… Well … mostly 🙂

Imagine 2 rolled ankles…11 bruises…3 broken fingernails…1 lost race number…1 lot of blood…

Followed by one Mother and daughter team giggling continuously as they find mud in places on each other that the other couldn’t see…and they are still talking about the fun they had months later.

This was my teenage daughter and I recently taking part in an adventure Mud Run, Obstacle Course Race.

Running / jogging and entering events together is one of the great ways we stay healthy as a family.

Miss 14 was 11 years old when we entered our first event. She entered the Kids Magic Mile and I entered the 10km walk.  From there we were hooked and the distance Miss 14 could run steadily increased to 5km, then 10km alongside my own running ability that was also very slowly improving.  We break it up when we need to, by walking for periods or resting.

Since then we have entered many general runs alongside each other like the Wellington Marathon events, Round the Bays, Local 5kms and 10kms.  As well as a few with a twist like the Obstacle Course Mud Runs and a fabulous Night Race up a muddy hill where you wear headlights and carry flashlights.

Fortunately, I have a teen who is very active playing multiple competitive sports, so she is also keen to keep her fitness up.  She doesn’t exactly LOVE running, but is generally always keen to do a race.

I have a love / hate relationship with running myself, but have learnt that I do more running during my week when I have actually entered / signed up in a an upcoming race.

Running brings my daughter and I together in a fun way during our busy week.  Followed then by further fun, excitement and the anticipation of getting ready for a race and the elation afterwards of both completing it!

It’s not always plain sailing; the last race we had entered in, Miss 14 was sick, so couldn’t race.  Last week a race we were planning on entering had to be shelved as it clashed with too many other commitments on our calendar.

Sometimes in training there have been tears, not just Miss 14’s, but mine too!

But this is some of what we have learnt along the way.

running events with children

Tips for training runs with your child / teen:

  • Choose a time of day to run that works for both of you.  We would usually run after school or early evening.
  • Start small…better to come back from a run with your child feeling that it was manageable and they are keen to go again, than exhausting them and making them loathe going out again!
  • Change up your route and find new interesting places to run.  We’ve found all sorts of tracks and back streets and places with amazing views just by taking a left instead of a right.
  • Ensure they have had good fuel (food) on board a good hour or so beforehand (not too close to avoid getting the stitch).
  • Throw a couple of Barley Sugars into your pocket, just in case the energy lags completely and you are still a LONG way away from home.
  • We always carry a $20 note, House Key and a Cellphone.
  • Talk and set with your child the expectations before you go out. When we were first starting out, Miss (11) 14 would love to race ahead.  So she could, as long as I could still see her. If she was about to get out of sight she had to either stop and wait for me or turn around and run back to me. This has balanced out a bit over time, I can run a little faster and she has learned that it’s OK to pace herself a bit more.
  • Make it fun whenever you can.  Sing songs, play games along the way, make up hand dance actions, you lead, she leads, pick leaves off tree’s, let them pick a new run route, splash in puddles …

Planning for your 1st race event with your child / Tteen:

  • Do your homework when picking your first race to enter together.  Read about the route and know where it goes and if it’s safe and suitable.
    Choose something that can easily be achieved for the 1st one, so they/you are eager to do more and go further next time, rather than think ‘never again’.
  • Plan a couple of days in advance exactly what you will wear from head to foot for both of you.  Have it in race day piles ready to go with your race number (bib) already pinned to your shirts and your timing chips laced into your shoes.
    Take into account weather conditions for both hot and cold eg. sunhats or thermals
  • Make a list of things that need to go with you that day eg. Sunscreen, Asthma inhaler.  Pack your bag with the other essentials you may need well in advance.
  • Make a rough time-table for the day.  Races are usually early, so you need to space out in time sections what time to get your child up, what time to feed them breakfast and be finished by and what time to leave etc…
  • Plan good fuel (food) for the morning.  We usually have Peanut Butter and Banana on grainy toast, a bit of ‘man type’ yogurt, a big glass of water and a glass of Powerade.
  • Fuel – for during the race.  Use the water on the track where possible, so you don’t carry our own (except the night race where you need to).  We take a couple of giant jelly beans tucked into our pants pocket (or sports bra) for if you really need an energy boost 1/2 way through.
  • Fuel – for after the race. eg. Bananas, Muesli Bars and Powerade.
  • Pack warm dry clothes, socks and a towel for both of you in the car for if you get wet.
  • For us it’s not really about the time or the placing, we are just out there to do it.  Have a loose goal, but keep it casual.
  • Even if you’re running together, plan a meeting spot at the end for if you lose each other.  Talk about what they would do if they lose you eg. stop and wait for you, or carry on to end.  If suitable, carry a cellphone to keep in touch.  Have a friend meet them at the race end if they are running ahead of you.

After your race:

  • Take pictures before the race together and afterwards and add in some silly poses 😉
  • If there is a choice of receiving a finishers medal after the race, take it and display them somewhere cool in your home.  Print out the time certificate afterwards and pin them on your wall.
  • If your event was photographed, show your child the pics online afterwards.
  • If your School has a “Success” section in its School Newsletter, send in your Child’s race picture and a short blurb.
  • Look up the calendar and book your next one together!

We are always on the lookout for new events to run in together, next year we hope to do the Colour Run, a family friendly event the involves being doused in colour along the way, sounds fun aye!

Entering races and running with my daughter is a great way for us to spend time together, teaches us to communicate in different ways and at the same time be healthy together as a family.

Do you run or exercise with your kids?  What other tips do you have?
Have you entered an event together before, how did it go?
Keen to try an event with your kids in future?

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Pip manages a busy office by day and is a closest blogger and computer geek by night. She writes about Parenting, City Living, Teenagers, Adventures, Faith, Travel, Single Parent families and whatever else takes her fancy, over on her blog www.wellingtonchic She is precariously navigating an adventure filled life as a single parent to a very busy teenager and fits in her writing (via a 3.5 inch screen) whilst standing in Supermarket queues or on the sidelines of sports practices.

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