Youth Running – Where to Start

Some of us started running when we were adults – I know many people that started in their late 30’s and 40’s.  However there are some of us that started when we were kids – before high school.  I did run in 2 1-mile fun runs in 7th and 8th grades, but I didn’t remotely consider myself a runner until the winter of 1983 as a freshman in winter track.  If you have kids that are ready to run and you don’t know where to start, here are some tips and ideas for you.

Tag Teaming….

Find a local team to join – in my town, just like recreation soccer, there is recreation track and field.  A child can start as young as 1st grade and learn to run, jump and throw.  There are usually a handful of multi-hour track meets that pit various clubs or towns together and the kids compete for medals, as in high school.  There are also usually plenty of youth leagues other than town recreation as well, run by local track clubs and / or local coaches.  They may have a common goal, such as finishing your first 5K.  Some local gyms may also have youth programs for running.  Either way, do the research and you would be surprised on what you might find, even if running is not as popular for kids as is soccer or basketball.

Family Living…..

There are hundreds of local fun runs and 5K’s for kids to try.  If you want to make it a family tradition or event, you could all walk or run it together.  What a great way for parents to show kids about health and fitness than by doing some races together!   The best thing is that there usually is a child age category for kids to win medals in 5K’s; in the fun runs, some of them have kids all winning a medal.

Take Care…..

Make sure you get your children good running shoes if they like the sport.  Make sure they have the right clothes to wear, particularly if there are 4 seasons where you live.  Watch how much running they do so that they don’t do too much in a short time or increase total mileage too fast, both of which could lead to injury. Some coaches demand too much from their athletes, and this can lead into burnout/injury.  If you don’t like the way your child is being coached, please switch teams – it isn’t worth it.   Also monitor your kids’ attitudes about the sport.  If they feel like they are being forced to do it, they definitely won’t like it later.  Too many kids eventually leave the sport as it was too demanding and/or too stressful at a young age.

Running is a lifelong sport – in many ways it rewards you as you age, if not by PR’s, but by age group medals.   If you enjoy it and don’t overdo it – listen to your body, you can run for a very very long time and have a career full of memories!

Trials of Miles,

Coach Nick

Nickolas Joannidis
Nickolas Joannidis
I have been running for over 35 years, having done practically every possible racing event or distance from the 100 meters through the marathon. I competed in varsity high school cross country and track at Saddle Brook High School in the mid-1980's, varsity cross country and track at Division II Pace University and finished well over 200 road races since then, including 20 marathons with a lifetime best of 3:14:50. I was the president of the Hoffmann LaRoche corporate running team for 7 years, growing the team from 25 to over 90 during his tenure. I coached many of these runners to achieve their goals, whether they were beginners or advanced. In 2011 I was an assistant coach for the Fair Lawn Recreation track team, helping the 10 to 14 year old group. I am currently personally coaching dozens of runners, from beginner levels to advanced levels and getting them to be prepared to meet their goals.

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