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Kickstart your kids into running

Benita Willis is the 2004 World Cross Country Champion and a 4 time Olympian and multiple Australian record holder.

Encouraging running from an early age teaches children healthy habits for life and the importance of hard work and how to win and deal with defeat, whilst improving physical fitness and cognitive abilities.

Getting your kids to run is also one of the best ways to encourage new friendships in the wider community outside school- running as a kid has enabled me to make life-long friends who I still keep in touch with in now my thirties.

Here are some quick tips to instill a passion for running into your kids:

Emphasise fun and having a go. Don’t focus on time or distance and start small, whether it is beginning by walking and then progressing to jogging or running short intervals with time in between for your child to catch their breath.

Make it a game and mix things up. Games are a fun way to build fitness and kids will enjoy running without realising they are doing it if it’s part of a game. Try setting up a small running circuit in your local park or backyard using different coloured markets, hoops or balls and use music to make it even more fun (think music tempo to guide speed or running as far as you can before the music stops). Mix up training locations too such as heading for your local trails, soccer fields or the beach.

Keep it social. Just like adults, kids are going to enjoy running more if it gives them a chance to make new friends and spend time with their friends. Why not get a group of kids together and participate in a local fun run or regular running group? The Gold Coast Marathon Garmin kids 2km or 4km junior dash events are a great way for your child to join other kids and soak up the atmosphere of a crowd cheering them on.

Track progress. Running can be a great way to teach kids goal setting and create a sense of achievement and motivation for improvement. Activity trackers for kids, such as the Garmin vivofit jr. 2, are a great way to get them excited about increasing their steps or striving to run faster than last time. A sticker chart, goal sheet or stop watch can also work too.

I’ll be supporting kids in the Gold Coast Marathon, providing a training session to a school group along with other great kids prizes for groups who register before April 30th. For more details click here.

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