Inspiration

10 Great Reasons to Include Your Kids on Your Next Trail Run

by On Sep 25, 2016

Think they’re too young to understand the importance of lessons learned while trail running? Bring the kids to your next trail event and see what happens to all of you!

10 Great Reasons to Include Your Kids on Your Next Trail Run

Kids teach adults valuable life lessons every day of the week, so parents who share their own experiences with their children are rewarded in ways that are immeasurable.

Little ones are like sponges: bring them to "adult" activities and the amount of information about people, places and things they taken in can often stick with them well into their own adulthood, which is why leaving your kids home when you undertake a trail run neither makes sense nor helps children grow into curious, adventurous human beings.

Given this perspective, is it any wonder that organizers are starting to include more family-focused events on marathon menus so the shared experience and bonding that takes place between kids and parents becomes part of a child’s upbringing?

For example, at the popular Salomon X-Trail Run, there’s a new parent and child fun run category that covers 4.8km and offers a unique opportunity that parents aren’t offered as often as they might wish.

After you finish reading our article, you’re invited to join this event.

Reason #1: Be Your Child's Mentor

You’ll learn more about your child than you ever imagined as you subtly teach her the ins and outs of trail running.

As you explain about changes the body must make to adjust to surfaces unlike the ones your child encounters on school tracks, you’re going to be asked probing questions, most of which are likely to begin with every child’s favourite word, “Why?”

0 Great Reasons to Include Your Kids on Your Next Trail Run

Photo Credit: 123RF

Reason #2: Show, Don't Tell!

By including your child in a “big person’s race” you show him that you respect his ability to adapt to unique circumstances at any age, and trust him to observe what’s important as you face the challenge as a team.

Also read:  Marathon Reflections: Teacher for an Overconfident Runner

Adaptation is best internalized by observation rather than conversation, so as the impromptu nature of a trail run unfolds, your opportunities to demonstrate on-the-fly problem solving are priceless.

Reason #3: Show Off Your "Human" Side

One of the best lessons you can teach your child is that even if you fall down, getting up is the solution to many of life’s barriers. Of course, you don’t want to be injured, but a slip or spill deserves a laugh and dusting off so you show your little one just how human you are!

These moments give you opportunities to share your true feelings with your child and make you even more approachable than you already are.

Reason #4: Share Some Secrets

Anticipate conversational topics that may just melt your heart. Perhaps you never heard about the day your daughter fell down in the playground and how a friend came to her aid even before the teacher could reach her.

It’s in the unguarded moments of time spent together that parents get closest to their offspring and gain insights into how they think, feel and respond. These are the building blocks that survive time.

0 Great Reasons to Include Your Kids on Your Next Trail Run

Photo Credit: 123RF

Reason #5: Empower Your Child

Do you have any idea how much stamina and fortitude your child has? Find out when you observe your child reacting to other families undertaking their trail runs. Does your youngster grow fearful and want to quit, or does adversity empower him?

Giving your little trail running partner opportunities to exhibit her natural behavioural patterns is likely to impress, please and perhaps disappoint you, but what better way to help your child overcome insecurities than by helping him identifying them?

Also read:  10 First Marathon Lessons Learned: Do Any of These Stories Sound Familiar?

Reason #6: Lavish Your Child With Compliments

Can a parent give a child too many compliments, kudos and recognition? Of course not. But as parents pushed to the limit and responsible for everything from paying rent and putting food on the table to giving offspring have every advantage, life can whiz by so quickly, mums and dads miss opportunities to make their children feel treasured.

A trail race sets the stage for you to observe and comment positively on everything your child does, so make this your focus as you head for that finish line together.

0 Great Reasons to Include Your Kids on Your Next Trail Run

Photo Credit: 123RF

Reason #7: No Judgments, Please!

Physiological and psychological benefits that arise from a parent and child undertaking a trail run together are immeasurable. Nobody is making judgments or assessing running style; it’s just you and the kids on a grand adventure together.

You become a living example of how to treat your body by balancing caution with abandon as a goal awaits at the end of the trail run. No admonitions to stay clean, watch your manners or calm down allowed as you get dirty and enjoy the time of your lives.

Reason #8: Be Fully Present On The Trail

Feel free to absolve yourself of parental responsibility! Of course, you want to keep your children from wandering off during a trail race, but there is no place for questions about whether homework is being taken care of, chores completed or rooms tidied because you’re on holiday from being the responsible parent from the start line to the finish line.

Also read:  Did You Know About These Great Running Shoe Brands?

There are no work, electronic or social interruptions, either, so the focus is on the family unit and the prize—finishing together with a renewed impression of just who your child has become.

Reason #9: Kiss Competition Goodbye

Pushing children to win at all cost has become a global epidemic. This is your chance to level the playing field. Your shared trail run is a rare opportunity to show by example how important it is to run for the fun and joy of the experience, not as one more chance to show somebody else up or win at all cost.

Winning, says Alfie Kohn, author of “No Contest: The Case Against Competition,” doesn’t build character; cooperation does. If your child learns nothing more than that winning has zero bearing on one’s self-esteem, your job is done.

10 Great Reasons to Include Your Kids on Your Next Trail Run

Photo Credit: 123RF

Reason #10: Everyone Gets A Pleasure Boost!

Parents receive health benefits from undertaking a trail run with their kids that are rarely mentioned. When parents and kids engage in recreational fun together, their brains trigger the hormone oxytocin.

This chemical reaction was once thought to be experienced only when parents bonded with newborns, but scientists have found this hormone also releases when parents and kids play together. So when you queue at that trail run start line with your giggling youngster, look forward to experiencing that oxytocin rush.

That’s Mother Nature telling you to find time to run with your child more often!

Have we convinced you that running a trail race with your kid(s) may have relationship-changing consequences that can last for a lifetime?

Aidan is the Editor-in-chief of RunSociety. As a health improvement hacker and explorer, he oversees RunSociety’s Creativity Channel, spanning a wide range of inspirational and enriching topics daily to the running community. Get in touch with him if you have any fresh ideas!

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