When Girls on the Run went to a waiting list and my daughter couldn’t participate I knew I had one choice. Coach them myself! I thought it was strange they had such a small cap at her school for who could join, but that’s fine. My son also joined us in the training as he had recently completed the “Healthy Kids Running Series” quarter mile event.
We started off with a run/walk combo of 30 seconds of running and 30 seconds of walking for 1 mile. Slowly we lowered the walking and increased the running. We practiced once a week, and we also play a game that involve a lot of running/cross-training.
My youngest was the first event of the morning, which was a half-mile distance. She easily ran the entire thing without having to stop. She would normally scooter with us for the 2-3 miles we did in training. The motion of scootering is actually very similar to proper running form as mentioned in the book “Born to Run 2”.
Next was the 5K race for my son and daughter. They knew to pace themselves early and go out conservatively. It wasn’t until right before the first-mile marker that things started to change. My son decided the pace was too slow for him and kicked it up a notch. Initially, my daughter was OK, but it started to wear on her mind as he slowly pulled away. She didn’t like the fact that he was going to “win”. I kept trying to remind her to run HER race, stay in THIS mile, focus on something close like the next tree or post, etc, but it was no use. The entire time in training she had no issue if she or Isaac was faster, but it seemed to be the mix of losing to Isaac AND race day jitters that caused problems. It was interesting to see how she was handling it. She had not mentally prepared for the fact this could happen, or the pressure of the race was getting to her. Around the 2-mile mark, we used a run/walk combo to finish the race, and in the last few yards, she sprinted it in.
“Children who have not been taught to confront challenges will try to avoid all challenges.”Ichiro Kishimi
I tried pulling out all the motivational quotes I couldn’t think of, but it made no difference. The stories we tell ourselves have the most effect, but thoughts are just that, thoughts. You don’t have to believe them. They can be intrusive, self-destructive, and I try teaching them that, but it’s one of the most difficult concepts for a child to grasp.
Thoughts are only thoughts. They are not you. You do belong to yourself, even when your thoughts don’t.John Green
Before every time she started walking she said the words, “I CAN’T do it”. As we got closer to the finish line she regained the ability to run, but it was a struggle. It was both amazing/sad to witness as a parent. It made me realize you can’t save them from suffering/pain, they need to experience it for themselves. You can tell them they need to practice more or put in the time, but until they experience the effects of being ill-prepared they won’t listen. I could have given her all the support in the world, but it just fell on deaf ears.
They both did an incredible job, but Hannah felt disappointed in her performance. It was their first 5K, but not their first race. She was nervous and that is completely understandable, it can be nerve-racking even for adults! To most adults, 3 miles doesn’t seem far, but for a child, it’s the equivalent of a marathon. Doing hard things that we CHOOSE makes it easier when hard things happen we don’t choose. This was such a good learning opportunity for the kids and FUN, the training leading up was filled with playgrounds and bike rides to promote a more active healthy lifestyle.
Later that night, she told me how much she enjoyed the race and she wanted to do it again. My son wants to run a 10K. We will definitely be doing the 5K again next year.
Post-race I asked if they had awards for children under 10. The race timer said, “O, are you one of those crazy parents that make their child run a 5K?”. I took offense to that because I didn’t MAKE them do it, I asked and they said YES. They wanted to train and they WANTED to race. Did I add some incentives YES! I actually paid them each 50 “Durante” dollars if they could complete the race. You might ask why would you do that. Well, I am also trying to teach them the value of a dollar and that is also working very well.
As adults, it’s easy to see the benefits of running, or maybe not. A child needs more immediate rewards/consequences for their actions. We had started adding chores around the house for an allowance. They are learning the value of a dollar, and slowly I hope they learn the value of running/physical fitness. If I had to pay 50 bucks to inspire a lifetime passion it’s worth every Penny 😁.
Please note that Durante Dollars are NOT legal tender, except in the Durante household. Durante dollars can be redeemed for real cash when they actually want to buy something.