Tips for Marathon Training with Small Children
When parents were single and before the baby came, they could train for anything they wanted to.
They could run, bike, walk, swim, enter contests for fitness, work out do yoga, etc. The kids start coming along and everyone says they don’t have time, but you do have time if you make the time. Life is about choices and there is no reason you can’t get out and walk your child daily or pull a stroller behind your bike, take them to the pool and have them watch you work out in the safety of your own home. This is how they learn how to start keeping physically fit is by watching mom and dad. As they reach the age of a bicycle or tricycle, walk and let them ride their trike ahead of you. Teach them boundaries when it comes to curbs and road safety but start including them. Put them in toddler swimming lessons at a young age. Chase them around the park so they start using their legs and running. Eventually, you will have an athlete on your hands that will probably work out for life. There are many families of athletes that are larger because they watched their parents. You don’t have to push them too hard because you are the first one they bond with and if you build a strong relationship, your child will mimic their parents.
You don’t have to be a pro runner to enter a marathon or any kind of race that includes children, but if your kids can walk, they can run. All you need to prepare is four to six weeks of training and start by going on a test run and let your kids lead the way. If they are breathing too hard, have them slow it down a bit, then they can start once they slow down their breathing. The goal is to try and get the family to run for at least 5 minutes.
The first two weeks, you can walk and run at least twice a week for 2 weeks and try 30 minutes for those 2 weeks.
Make sure you teach kids how to warm up because this is important and make sure the warm-up is between 5 to 7 minutes. They can start to walk for a couple of minutes and then try some warm-ups to get those muscles ready. Some ideas are to hike and keep your knees up to your chest, try squats, marching, making sure arms and legs are straight, skip, bunny hops, tiny jumps and make sure their feet are together for the jumps.
Teach the kids how to interval run by using alternate moves. Walk for a while, then jog for a few minutes, another minute of walking to slow down and keep this up for a half hour.
Make sure you all cool down at the end of your workout. Try walking to lower the heart rate, then do some stretches so no one gets sore. Each stretch should be held for a good 60 seconds. You can teach them to bend over and reach for their toes, stretch their legs by grabbing their ankles and pulling one foot towards their buttocks. You can teach them how to loosen up their hamstrings by putting their heels on a chair or a bench and reaching for their toes. Make sure they keep their legs straight, they can stretch their chest by using a tree or frame of a door for balance. Keep the hand at shoulder height and have them turn their body slowly away from the tree of frame until they feel a stretch. This goes for parents too. You should all feel the stretch in your chest and your shoulder. Make sure this stretching is all done gently.
By the third week, you should plan to run and walk twice during the week for a half hour each day, and take another 25 minutes and use it for stretch training. Make sure you warm up again and stretch gently. Keep doing the walk and run intervals at a slow pace and run for a good five minutes, then walk for 2 minutes so everyone can slow down. Repeat all of these intervals for a half hour.
By week three, strength training should consist of holding three planks for 30 seconds each, three side planks, do about five forward walks that look like a crab, have them walk back like a crab as well. You can all try some inchworms for 5 minutes forward and back, around ten pushups and five touch your toes. Then cool down again like you and your family did the first 2 weeks.
By week 4 you can walk and run for 35 minutes, and have them do 25 minutes of gentle stretching. Make sure you all warm up like you have been doing the last three weeks. Do your running intervals again with a walk and run at a slower pace but not too slow. Run for ten minutes this time, then walk for a few minutes to slow down and repeat this for 35 minutes. Teach them more strength training but try to get everyone to do all their training in and knock off 5 minutes. Make sure everyone cools down like they did the first three weeks.
Now your family is on their 5th week and this time run and walk for 45 minutes every time, and do 15 minutes of strength training. Make sure you do your warm-ups as a family. Continue walking and running at a regular pace. This week run for 15 to 20 minutes, then walk for a few minutes so everyone can slow down. Keep this pace up for the entire 45 minutes. Do your strength training with your family and do the same exercises your family has been doing but this time you can add more things to do. You can do an additional 10 squats, 10 leg raises, use steps for 10 step ups and have them strengthen their calves by doing calf raises. Make sure you cool down when everyone is finished.
Now your at your 6-week goal and up the running to 50 minutes each time your family runs. In addition, do 10 minutes of strength training. Make sure everyone warms up and this time the family should be able to run the entire time if you are planning on a 5k. If this seems too overwhelming for everyone, have them slow down and walk until everyone is ready to run again. Have the family do their strength training and add a few cartwheels and cool down again.
When you are training and ready to go, this should be an enjoyable event for your children. Be patient and don’t teach them that winning is important, it’s good physical fitness that is your main goal. This is how your children build healthy bodies and strong minds from exercise and fresh air. They also build up their muscles and make sure everyone is stretching and cooling down correctly, so there are no injuries or sore muscles. Have a good time at your marathon!