Getting started young: Tips for 5K training with a young runner

Training tips for young runners

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Every other weekend running expert Kari Stuart joins the WZZM weekend morning team in studio with tips for people training for the River Bank Run.

Running is great exercise for adults, but what are some wise things to keep in mind when it comes to running and kids? This week we met up with Kari and her 7.5 year old daughter Logan who is training for her first ever 5K. They offer some great advice for kids getting into running for the first time.

When it comes to training, Kari set up an elaborate plan.

"I made Logan this fantastic training plan, we were scheduled to run 3 times a week I had us doing intervals where we would run for a couple minutes and then walk for a minute, and I do think having the run/walk was smart, but having it so structured was really just silly," said Kari.  "We've made it out plenty of times to get her across the finish line but we didn't need to have a structured plan. It should just be fun."

So, how should a non-runner get started?

"They should train," said Logan.  "They should make sure they are not doing hard running on the ground so you just want to do soft," she said.  

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Kari noticed that Logan was putting a lot of pressure on her joints by how hard she was "pounding the pavement."

"I would just say run really light so I can't hear your feet. And we don't have to sprint," Kari advised. "I think with kids teaching them to run at a moderate pace is really challenging -- kids have either all out or nothing so for her to just slow down, run lightly, run easy but once we got that she could go the distance."

Kari says using time instead of distance is a helpful strategy for young runners.

"I think kids can wrap their mind around time a little bit easier than distance, so I think our first run was like maybe 16 minutes and we did 3 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking," Kari explained. "We just built in shorter intervals of walking and running starting around 15 to 18 minutes, which is, for a kid a little over a mile."

How about post run nutrition?

"A little bit of chocolate milk after you run is great for the extra protein for kids," said Kari. Logan suggests hot chocolate for when it's a little cooler out.

"Kids sweat a lot and when you are outdoors you don't realize how much you are sweating, especially when its kind of chilly so it's important that kids get some water and protein right after their run," Kari said. "We also started to think about not running right after you eat, and having a healthy snack like a banana or a granola bar before we run."

For more training tips from Kari, for young and old, click here.

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