The children who are fully trained run 4 miles a day, 5 or 6 days a week, depending on our activity schedule. In the summer we run in the morning in order to beat the heat. During the school year our runs take place after school before it gets dark.
Children in training start with daily walks, and then begin to alternate walking and running. When they are fit enough to join the fast group the little ones can take a rest in the running stroller if they need to. For many of the 4 and 5 year olds, it is an important milestone to graduate to running with the “big kids.”
Our run time each day is 50 minutes to an hour, depending on the level of the group and the route chosen. The beginners cover much less ground than the fast runners.
Children tend to be hard on shoes, and running makes shoes wear out even faster. Our children have a special pair of running shoes just for the daily runs, and we change the running shoes every 3-4 months. “Retired” running shoes are then used up for play.
Hydration and stretching are important for children just as for adults. We stretch and hydrate before and after every run.
Motivation is also important. Some of our children make running goals their own and really strive to train well and improve their times at races. Others need a little extra motivation. On Fridays, the children run to the grocery store during their daily run. Everyone who ran with a reasonably positive attitude that week and respected the safety and traffic rules picks out a snack to bring home. This combines the motivation with the run itself, and the children really enjoy it.
Finally, we run several 5k road races each year. The races are often a motivation in themselves.