I am a wife, a mom, a homeschooler, a marathon runner, and a bike enthusiast.
As a mom I loved the solitude of running and biking, miles of silence to clear my head and pray.
Then one year my son asked me if perhaps I wouldn’t mind helping him train for a 5K. A few years later he is now training for a half marathon and his younger sister recently asked me to train her for a 5K.
To be honest, when my son first asked me to help him learn how to pace himself for longer distances I tried to pawn the job off on his father. I told his dad it would be a great way for him to get back into shape and spend sometime with his son.
I just wasn’t so sure that I wanted to give up my time of solitude. As a homeschooling introvert I treasure my time alone. God however worked on my heart and showed me other times in my day where I could recharge with solitude so I could share my love of running with my children.
What I didn’t expect is now a reality. I love running with my children and look forward to our one and one workouts we share through out the week. So much so that when I discovered my middle child had been wanting to get out on his bike more I started sharing my weekly long bike ride with him, meaning I now workout 5 days a week with one of my children by my side.
I am by no means a perfect coach, nor am I a trained professional but here are a few tips for sharing your sport successfully with your child.
Let them pick a fun goal
Fun motivates kids. Both my running children have chosen to run the Santa Hustle, a race in which all the runners run in Santa hats and beards as well as shirts that look like Santa suits. At the end of the race is a huge spread of candy and chocolate.
My son who bikes with me loves it when I plan a destination ride that ends at one of his favorite places to eat. I love it too since it gives us more one on one time to talk.
Invest in good equipment
The most important piece of gear a runner owns is their shoes. I had both my children who run fitted for a pair of running shoes in store.
For my son who bikes with me I took him to a locally owned bike store where the owner helped him pick out a bike and then adjusted the fit to suit him perfectly. The store has also already taken care of some minor issues with the bike for free since we bought it.
Yes children are way more energy filled than adults but this does not mean that they can go out and run 3 miles their first time out. I started off both my children with 2 minutes running followed by 2 minutes walking for 20 minutes two times a week. I then slowly reduced the walking time until they could run the full twenty minutes. When running for 20 minutes seemed to be taking less effort than it did at first I then added a few more minutes of running each week.
Biking is not as intensive as running so I started with 30 minutes and then worked up until my son can now comfortably go out for a 2 hour bike ride.
Make backup plans for bad weather
Children don’t love running in rain and cold, at least mine don’t. I find the best bad weather plan is to run side by side on treadmills at a local gym.
As for my winter plans for my son who likes to bike with me, I am thinking of getting permission from my local gym for him to come to spinning class with me.
I regret a few of my first runs with my eldest son. I focused too much on making sure he got faster and not enough on making sure I was building a life long love of being active within my son. I turned fun into competition but time has mellowed me and now I give a lot more “great job” and “you got this” than I did at first. I am also more willing to slow it down to a talking pace so we can build relationship as we build endurance.
Running or biking might not be the sport for you or your child but these principles can be applied to pretty much any sport. The main thing is that both you and your child both love whatever activity you choose to do together and create bonding time.
Victoria Huizinga is a homeschooling mom of three who writes at Snail Pace Transformations with the mission of helping moms find the time and money they need to pursue their passions while maintaining harmony in their homes. Her own passions include running, biking and knitting. You can find her at Snail Pace Transformations.