Last weekend my family did the Big South 5K in Charlotte. Well, not the whole family. #1, #2, and #3 are not home, and my husband and #9 (Sam – who is 4) didn’t run but came to cheer the rest of us on. I ran with #7 (C.C.) who is 8. She was trying to break 27:50 which was her last 5K time. We came in a little over that at 28.30 but I was impressed with her mighty effort! She never stopped to walk except to get water. By the last 1/2 mile she was tired and I asked her if she wanted to walk a little. But then as she recognized her surroundings and knew it wasn’t too far to finish…she got a second wind!
I’ve said it before on 9 Kid Fitness…5ks are a great family affair. If you have a child under the age of 7 or 8 and you aren’t sure how they will do, you can always run with a jogger. But even when kids stop to walk a little, it is amazing how much confidence they finish with. There are usually lots of things for them to see and do after the race…food, booths, etc. Fall is a great time to run a 5K because it is a little cooler (in most places). It isn’t an inexpensive way to spend a fall morning, but it is definitely worth the cost, especially since almost all road races are fundraisers for some worthwhile organization. In the case of the Big South 5K, middle school cross country was the recipient of the funds earned. As a cross country coach myself, it was right up my alley!
The rest of my family enjoyed the race and did well…#6 – Peter ran it in 15:29 for third place. #5 (Annie), #6 (Grace), and #4 (John) all placed in their age groups, but more importantly, everyone had a good time, pushed themselves, and saw others having fun while running. For younger kids, this is key. Unfortunately, many kids don’t think of themselves as runners. I hear it all the time, “I can’t run”. It is usually more accurate to say, “I don’t like to run”, but even that is not always necessarily the case – many have never had a good experience with running and therefore believe it can’t be fun. It can be fun! The younger the child is when they recognize this, the less likely they are to believe they can’t do it.
5K’s are a wonderful venue for role modelling. Whether it is you as the parent, other kids running, or fast runners who show up to race, role models are everywhere at a 5K. We saw a wheelchair racer, an 80 year-old, and lots of lots of young kids at the Big South 5K. The winner of the race hung around for at least an hour after the awards signing autographs and taking photos with kids. He is a former two-time Olympian in the steeple chase who ran the 5K on Saturday in 13:57…pretty fast!
Running is a life-time sport that often begins when we are young. My sisters and I remember my dad running 10-12 miles every Sunday when we were growing up. I’ll never forget after he ran the Chicago Marathon, he soaked his feet in a bowl of ice for hours and ate everything he could get his hands on. I figured running must be fun at some level. Who would go through so much agony if there wasn’t some fun involved?
If you get a chance to sign up to run a 5K with your family this fall, I highly recommend it! Have you run a 5K lately?