Thursday, October 14, 2010

Running Kids

I was pretty excited yesterday afternoon, getting to watch my oldest daughter run her first race. She's in sixth grade and running cross-country. The sixth-graders don't get to run the meets with the 7th & 8th graders, but once per season they're allowed to race over part of the home course.

Early in the race. Natalie was leading the girls, and was 4th overall.

Natalie, still leading the girls. She was passed shortly after this pic.
Natalie ended up running 7:15 for just about a mile, finishing in 2nd for the girls.

This little race did a lot to boost her confidence. When the season started, she wasn't sure she wanted to stick with it. I was able to convince her to hang tough, that her body would adapt and her fitness would improve. I know she has potential to be a good runner. After she finished, she was pretty excited. Her previous best timed mile was 9:06, so she shaved nearly two minutes off that time.

Last night, she even told me that once cross-country season ends, she wants to run with me (assuming I'm not hobbled by my foot), which we did a little of during the summer. We're going to run a local Fowl Fun Run (2 miles) next month. I want her to enjoy it, but I also want her to race it. I believe that, if she ends up finishing strongly in her age group, she'll really start believing in her abilities. I think young runners (and even us older runners) need confidence builders. So much of running is mental, and if you start having successes, they build on each other. You also need to learn how to bounce back after bad runs & races, but if you don't have breakthroughs to get excited about – especially as a kid just starting out – you're more prone to throw in the towel. That's why I nearly got choked up seeing her do so well yesterday. It was a big hurdle to clear and she did it.

With all that said, I'm not going to push her and pile expectations on her, either. It has to be fun. But a little success definitely adds to the fun factor.

So, as a parent of a new runner, I'm excited about how she's doing and what she can (and hopefully will) do in the future. And I'm excited to see HER excitement!


  1. Great for both you and your daughter!! You're right not to push her, as she certainly knows of your own love of running and sees your pride when she runs. It'll also be great if your injury allows you to run with her, as those will be memories that you'll both treasure (as I do with my runs with my own daughter). You're right that she - and all of us - need confidence boosters such as decent placement in one's age group - but if she happens to have a very competitive group of girls her age it's important that she recognize that and not be disappointed no matter what might occur. Finally, running is merely one way for your daughter to begin to envision her future life as an active adult, so be sure to equally support other activities that she may show interest in (e.g. tennis, rugby, flag football, etc.) Good for you, Dad!

  2. Thank goodness she inherited her Mom's genes for this activity. Running a 2 mile race with your kid? Doesn't get any better than that.

  3. That is great! I think a confidence booster for kids do wonders. The fun part is just as important and if you can run together sometimes it's even better. Have a good weekend!