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Run, Kiddo, Run!

We, the urbanMamas, love to run. It means so many things to us, from creating mamaraderie, to getting fit, and helping us to keep an even keel, mentally. The benefits of exercise are being discussed nationally as we come to terms with the prevalence of obesity and the illnesses that result from obesity. Exercise comes naturally to children, though. Play involves running, jumping, climbing, and swinging. Playgrounds are a great place for kids to get their workouts in.

RLH2009 But recently, my 8 year old wonders when he can start running. He already "races bikes" like daddy, and he knows that we both run/jog recreationally, so he's thinking he should try running, too. Is it too early to buy him his first set of running shoes? If he does start jogging with me, what is an ideal time or distance to start with? Should we look into more competetive events to keep him interested or should we rely on self-motivation? I am certain that each kid differs in what motivates them to keep up with an activity, but I'd like to hear what's been working for other parents out there. (photo by Sue Nolke)

For now, I'll keep him on a bike if I want to get a 6 mile run in with him in tow... but eventually I know  his legs will be longer than mine, and he'll be able to keep up easily. He'll probably surpass me pretty quickly! I look forward to that day both with excitement and trepidation. Do they grow up *so* fast, or what?

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My daughter, 9, has come on a few jogs with me and ran in 2 1k kids races. She did express some anxiety about not being able to win or beat all the other kids. I try to explain to her the importance of setting a goal for herself and not to worry about the other kids. All kids have different abilities and skills. I illustrated this by telling her about my own improvements and that I am NEVER the first one across the finish line, but as long as I keep improving, then I've won. The only downside to having the kiddos run with us moms is that we don't get that well deserved mom-break and mini-therapy session that running provides.

I'd really like to hear from any physical therapists or other experts who know about the effects of running (as a disciplined exercise, not just "I'm a kid! I run!"). My daughter runs and runs and runs ... she's faster than anyone in the family, and gets such joy from it. But she's five. I wonder about the high impact effects, etc.

Amy my daughter ran like that from a very young age and always wanted to run with me. I am an avid runner and she could keep up by 10, beat me by 11 and was running middle school cross country (and winning) by 12. She's a teen now and loves to run for mental and physical health and will even slow down and run with me sometimes.

I'm just guessing here. But I'd say running a little playtime sprint-ish race just for the joy of racing is about all that sounds like the fun of childhood until they are maybe about 11 or 12. But go ahead if you want to get them the shoes or the clothes - that's really just kind of a costume, if you think about it.

The people at Foot Traffice (one is on NE fremont/42) seem super kid educated. They put on those kid "track meets" this summer @ Grant...ask them! Maybe your kid could start @ Fremont Fest-there's a kiddo 1 mile to start off the day...

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