Category: Running

How to Get Kids Interested in Running

Running is a good way to increase your cardiovascular health, strengthen your legs, and get some regular time outdoors. But getting kids interested in running can be hard since it can seem boring. Motivating kids to run by making it seem special, signing them up for competitive but fun and kid-friendly races, playing running games, or encouraging them to run while they do other activities can increase kids’ interest in running.

Motivating Kids to Run

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Don’t over-criticize. The quickest way to make a kid lose interest in an activity is to continually criticize how they perform that activity. When they’re first getting involved with running, don’t criticize their form or speed (or lack thereof). Instead, emphasize the fun they’re having.[1]

  • For example, if you notice that their form needs work, sandwich it between two positive comments. So you could say something like, “It really seems like you’re running faster! Just make sure you keep your back straighter while you run. But your stride looks really good!”
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Help kids set their own goals. For a kid to get interested in anything – not just running – they have to feel like they own the activity. A good way to foster this sense of ownership is by helping kids set their own running goals.

  • Goals can include time goals – maybe they want to be able to run a mile in 20 minutes or run a 100 yard dash in a certain amount of time.
  • Kids can also have non-timed goals. For example, maybe they want to be able to run a whole mile without stopping.
  • It doesn’t really matter what the goals are, as long as the kids themselves are setting them.Image titled Get Kids Interested in Running Step 3

Celebrate running victories. Celebrating kids’ running victories is another way to keep them motivated about running. Once kids have set their goals, help them celebrate when they meet them.[3

  • You can say something like “You ran that whole half mile without changing your pace once! Way to go!”
  • Your celebrations should still support the healthy lifestyle that running engenders in kids. Celebrate with healthy snacks or a cute card. Try to resist celebrating with something like cupcakes.
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Help kids pick out special running clothes. Another good way to motivate kids to run is by making an event out of choosing running clothes. Take them shopping for a new outfit especially for running, or for new shoes that are only running shoes. This makes the whole experience feel special.[4]

  • If you don’t have the money for new clothes, you can help them go through their existing wardrobe and pick out an outfit that’s just for running. Encourage them to keep it separate from their regular clothes and only wear it when they’re ready to run.
    Image titled Get Kids Interested in Running Step 5Create a playlist. If the kids have a music player or a phone with music-playing capabilities, you can help them create a running playlist. This adds to the feeling that running is special. Music also works as a good motivation to keep moving.

Participating in Fun Runs

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Sign up for a family fun run. Family fun runs are a great way to get the whole family running while introducing your kids to competitive races without overwhelming them. Most family fun runs have a variety of course distances you can choose from, which make them a great option if your kids are different ages.

  • These runs usually take place in the spring or fall, depending on where you live. You can get more information about family fun runs in your area from community newsletters, magazines, and some cities’ official websites.
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Try a mud run. Mud runs are part competitive race, part obstacle course, and many adult mud runs have a kid version that happens on the same day. Mud runs give your kids an excuse to get dirty while they run, which is a great way to get them interested in running.[7]

  • Make sure you check out what the obstacle course for the kids’ mud run looks like. You don’t want to sign your kids up for a mud run that is beyond their abilities. This can actually turn them off from running, rather than making them more interested.
  • Make sure the clothes your kids wear for a mud run are expendable – the stains might not come out.
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Do the Color Run. The Color Run is a 5K run that happens across the country on various dates. Runners dress in white and are showered in colored powders as they run (or walk) the race route. The Color Run has a fun, family-friendly vibe and can be a great way to get kids to love running.
  • has all of the dates and locations of upcoming Color Runs.
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Take part in a dress-up run. Around Halloween, some community centers – like local YMCAs or YWCAs – sponsor character or Halloween themed runs. These runs encourage kids to race while dressed up in their Halloween costumes. Some versions of the run include trick-or-treating along the way or promise tasty treats like apple cider or hot chocolate at the end.
  • If your kid is participating in this type of run, make sure they can run in their costume – you don’t want anyone tripping over a cape or a skirt.
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Participate in a mermaid run. Mermaid runs are exclusively for women and girls, and they often offer multiple race courses of varying distances and difficulties. Mermaid runs can help get girls interested in running because girls can run without making gendered comparisons to boys who might be faster than they are.
  • This is a great option for a multi-generational run – mermaid run organizers encourage runners of all ages and abilities to participate.
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Sign them up for a Spartan Kids run. The Spartan run is one of the toughest obstacle course races in the country, but they also offer a kid version of the race. Not only will kids have to run, but they will also have the chance to jump, climb, and get muddy
  • As with other mud runs, make sure your kids are up to tackling the obstacles that are part of a Spartan run.
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Sign them up for an inflatable fun run. Inflatable fun runs are kids-only obstacle course races. Instead of climbing up nets or crawling through mud, however, they’ll have to tackle a variety of inflatable obstacles. Inflatable fun runs are a great option for kids who want to run an obstacle race but aren’t quite ready for some of the other races out there.

Playing Running Games

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Play Frisbee. Playing Frisbee with your kids is a great way to get them running without focusing only on running. Just make sure that you throw the Frisbee a little out of their reach so they must run to catch it. Return the favor by running to catch their return throws.
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Play catch. If your kids can’t catch something as oddly-shaped as a Frisbee, try playing catch with a regular ball. As with Frisbee, make sure you’re throwing the ball slightly out of their reach so they have to run to catch it.
  • Playing catch has the added benefit of improving your kids’ hand-eye coordination.
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Try I-spy. Taking kids on a run through the neighborhood can be boring for the kids, but playing a game like I-spy can keep them interested. Take turns giving one another hints about what you’re looking at and guessing what the object is.
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Play red-light-green-light. Red-light-green-light is another game that gets your kids running while improving other motor skills. It also works great with as few as 2 kids or as many as 15 to 20.
  • Set the players at a starting line a fair distance from the boss of the round. This distance can vary depending on the age of the players – if your players are younger, you can start them a little closer. If they’re older, they can start further back.
  • The boss stands with their back to the players and calls “Green light!” which is the players’ cue that they should start running toward the boss. The boss calls “red light!” and spins around quickly. Anyone still moving when the boss turns around is out of the game.
  • Whoever touches the boss first wins and takes over as boss for the next round.

Combining Running with Other Activities

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Make it a family event. One of the best ways to get kids interested in running is by showing them that you’re also interested. Plan family runs, or make a point for the whole family to be outside while kids are running. This makes it feel like an important family event, rather than just a solo event.
  • You can also encourage your kids to run with their friends. This matches them with fellow runners whose abilities and speed are probably closer to their own.
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Encourage them to run while they’re doing other things. Kids might not like running all by itself, but you can incorporate it into other things your kids do – running to do a chore or get something for you. Sneaking running into their everyday movement can eventually lead to their becoming interested in running on its own.
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Include your pets. If the kids have a pet – especially a dog – encourage them to take the pet with them on their run. If the dogs want to run, too, it can make it more fun for the kids. And following the dogs’ lead is a good way to get kids interested in running without just telling them to run.
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Encourage your kids to play sports. A lot of sports require that kids run. Signing kids up for those kinds of sports can get kids running early. It can also lead to them gaining in interest in running on its own.
  • Basketball, baseball, and soccer are good sports to get kids to start running.


When Can Kids Start Running?

Three-year-olds are natural runners. Some parents may sometimes wonder how to get their preschoolers to ​stop running, rather than start running. But, seriously, structured running in a race or alongside an adult is different than just bouncing around the playground or backyard.

So what’s a safe age for kids to start running as a sport, rather than just for fun? Three years old is a little young for kids to start a formal running program. They may not “get” the concept of running a race and it could be a miserable experience for everyone. And one bad experience might turn them off from running races in the future.

But if your child shows an interest in running, kindergarten is a good time to look for a youth running program or enter your child in a local kids’ race (usually short distances of 100 – 400 meters). If you decide to start your child in a running program, just make sure it isn’t too regimented or intense. The idea is for kids to get some exercise, have fun, and learn to love running.

How to Find Kids’ Running Programs and Races

To find a kids’ running program, check with your town or city’s recreation program or youth sports organization to see if they offer something. Some churches even offer running teams or clubs that are open to kids outside of the congregation. Some programs are very informal and just have practice at a local track once or twice a week. Other programs are organized track and field teams that compete in youth track meets, where kids participate in events such as the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, relay races, as well as some field events. Most youth track meets require kids to be at least seven years old to participate.

To find a local kids’ race, look on sites such as for events in your area. Many local 5Ks have a shorter kids’ race before or after the 5K event. Check the race’s website to see what they offer. The exciting race atmosphere may get your kids even more interested and excited about running.

What If Your Child is Too Young for a Running Program or Race?

If your child shows an interest in running before the age of 5, you definitely don’t want to discourage him or her. You can encourage her to run by playing tag, doing an obstacle course, even chasing after the dog—as long as it doesn’t feel like a formal, structured program. Try playing some of these running games to get them moving and having fun. You’ll help instill a love of running in them that will hopefully develop into a life-long running habit.


9 Ways to Help You Run a Faster Mile

Hoping to improve your mile time?  Whether you’re a high school track athlete, beginner runner, or a masters runner, you can make some small changes to improve your pace. Here are some tips for shaving some time off your mile PR.

1. Interval Training

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High-intensity interval training is a fun way to improve your speed and confidence. Once a week, do track workouts, such as 200 meters (1/2 lap) or 400 meters (one lap around the track) repeats. After a five-minute to 10-minute warm-up, alternate between running hard for 200 meters or 400 meters and then easy jogging or walking for the same distance to recover. If you’re doing 200-meter repeats, start with six repeats and try to work your way up to eight to 10 repeats. For 400-meter intervals, start with two or three repeats (with a recovery lap in between each), and try to work your way up to five to six repeats. These workouts can also be done on the ​treadmill.

Or, if you’re running on the road, you can use lamp posts or telephone poles to mark your intervals. After warming up, try sprinting for two lamp posts, then recover for two, and keep repeating the pattern until you’ve covered a mile.

2. Build Endurance

If you want to run a faster mile, you’ll have to run longer than a mile. You may already be running more than a mile several times a week, but are you doing one run that’s significantly longer than the rest?  Doing one long run per week (in addition to shorter runs on other days) will improve your cardiovascular fitness and strength, which will lead to faster times. It also helps improve your mental strength, which will help you push through discomfort towards the end of a mile race. Start with 2 to 3 miles (assuming you’ve already reached that mileage) and add 1 mile a week until you get to 7 to 8 miles. If you are training for a half marathon or full marathon, you’ll continue to build your mileage on that long training day.

3. Stride Turnover

Practice improving your stride turnover so you learn to take quicker, shorter steps. To go faster, you need to go faster. Use a running drill to work on your stride turnover. Run at your 5K pace for a minute and count your foot strikes (such as only your right foot). Recover at an easy pace for a minute. Then run again and try to increase your foot strike count. Repeat this sequence several times, trying to increase your foot strike count by one each time.

Be careful not to overstride. Your feet should land under your hips, not in front of you.

4. Work on Your Running Form

Spend a few minutes at the beginning of each run ensuring you are using proper running form. Your posture, arm motion, and foot strike all make a difference in your speed. You don’t want wasted energy and inefficient body mechanics that will slow you down. Work on your form at a lower speed so it can serve you well as you speed up.

5. Hill Repeats

Doing hill repeats will make you stronger, as well as improve your running efficiency and increase your lactate threshold. All that should help you improve your mile time.

To do hill repeats, start by warming up with 10 to 15 minutes of easy running. Find a hill with a decent slope—but not too steep. Start with sprints lasting 30 seconds, walk down to recover, then build up to 40-second sprints. Start out with five repeats and try to work your way up to 10. Finish with a 15-minute cooldown of easy running.

6. Climb Stairs

If you don’t have easy access to hills, you can run stairs instead.  Use the same approach as hill repeat. Run up the stairs for 30 seconds, walk down to recover.  Repeat five times, and try to work your way up to 10 repeats.

7. Lose Excess Weight

If you’re already trying to shed some pounds, here’s more incentive. On average, runners get two seconds per mile faster for every excess pound they lose. For example, a 10-pound weight loss could shave about 20 seconds off your mile race time.

8. Strength Training

Building muscle strength will boost your speed, as well as give you additional benefits. You don’t need to lift serious weight or hit the gym five days a week.  Even just doing several bodyweight exercises a couple times of week can help you add lean muscle. Get started with basic strength-training workouts for runners.

9. Get Enough Rest

Don’t assume that running hard every day will make you faster. Rest is critical to your recovery and injury prevention efforts, so don’t forget to take rest days. Your muscles actually build and repair themselves during your rest days. A rest day doesn’t have to be a complete day off.  For example, you could do easy cardio such as walking, biking, or swimming on a rest day. But make sure that don’t do two days of intense workouts, such speed workouts, in a row.


How Much Training Do You Need to Run a Half Marathon?

How much should you train if you want to run a good half marathon? There are two distinct types of runners who ask this question: the first-time half marathon runner who runs just 2 to 3 days a week for 3 to 5 miles.


Half Marathon Training

On the other end of the spectrum is the runner who has raced several half marathons and wants to race faster. Thus, the key distinction between these two runners is the 13.1-mile distance—the first athlete has not run a 13.1-mile run whereas the second one has run 13.1 miles or longer several times.

When it comes to training for the half marathon, the key workout each week is the long run. If you make the long run the focus of your training, you give yourself a great shot of running well come race day. I like to see the first-time half-marathon runner give himself at least 12 weeks to train adequately for the race.

Beginners: Your 12-Week Half Marathon Training Plan

Assuming you’re doing 4 to 5 miles once a week, 12 weeks gives you plenty of time to build up to a 10- or 11-mile long run. You don’t necessarily need to run 13.1 miles in training to be confident that you can finish the 13.1-mile race, yet you don’t want your longest run to be just 8 miles. Getting up to the 10- to 11-mile distance for your weekly long run is the goal.

After that, you want to do one aerobic workout a week. Fartlek workouts, threshold workouts, longer aerobic repeats on a track or on a dirt path are all good options.

Once you’ve done that, you can get away with running just two more days a week to be prepared to run the race, giving you a total of four running days per week to be able to finish a half marathon. You should cross-train two days a week and then take one day a week off.

The schedule might look like this:

  • Monday: easy run
  • Tuesday: workout
  • Wednesday: cross-training
  • Thursday: cross-training
  • Friday: easy run
  • Saturday: long run
  • Sunday: off or brisk walk



How running can encourage teens to foster more healthy lifestyles

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A recent study conducted by researchers at Kings College London has found that obesity rates among 11 to 15-year-olds are still rising. Using GPs’ electronic health records in England to monitor trends over 20 years. Researchers analysed weight, height and body mass index (BMI) measurements for more than 370,000 children from 1994 to 2013.

While the findings showed that the overall rate of growth of obesity levels has slowed in the past 10 years. The rate of growth within the age group of 11 to 15-year-olds has in fact risen by 37% in the last decade.

This leaves this age group of early teens not only most at risk of health problems including heart disease and type 2 diabetes but mental health issues including depression and anxiety.

Talking to the BBC about the recent study, Colin Michie, Chair of the nutrition committee at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Who said that while the situation is not getting worse, “it still leaves us with lots of problems, particularly among teenagers, who are not easily directed, at a sensitive time in their lives.”

But how do we encourage teens to foster more healthy lifestyles? At WR, we believe running could be the answer, not only helping teenagers to manage their body weight but also combat a whole host of other issues…

A means of overcoming feelings of exclusion and self-consciousness

Unlike the team sports offered at secondary schools such as hockey and netball. Running can be discovered and enjoyed independently without risk of feeling self-conscious. And subject to criticism, particularly at this sensitive age. GP Juliet McGrattan said:

“Teenage years are such an important window in which to foster healthy lifestyles but more sedentary hobbies can take over. And increase in self-consciousness can often put teenagers off sport.”

With secondary schools plagued by playground hierarchy, joining a team sport can often feel daunting, particularly when sports teams are often dominated by social cliques.

Improves health

While keeping weight under control and reducing the risk of chronic illnesses including heart disease And type 2 diabetes, running is a great way of improving cardiovascular health.

Boosts self-esteem & encourages engagement in other sports

One of the great things about running is that improvements in performance are tangible from early on. This self-awareness of ones own improved fitness levels will not only boost self-esteem but is likely to encourage teenagers to partake in. And experiment with, other more social sports such as football or athletics.

Manage stress levels

Exams, revision periods and decisions over subject choices can be mentally taxing for teenagers. Running reduces the body’s stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Andit is the perfect way to help teenagers ‘clear their heads’ through busy exams periods.

Encouraging your teenage son or daughter to come for a run with you. Run the dog around the park, hit up the treadmill at the local gym. Or even partake in an event with you is a great way to get your child into sport .It will help to inspire a healthy and active lifestyle.

However, it is worth considering that like adults, teenagers need to gradually build up their distance and frequency of running. GP Juliet McGrattan advises that “while there aren’t any strict guidelines as to how much running is too much for teenagers.Growth plates are not fully formed until a person’s late teens so some care is needed.”

She says that cross training, core strength and conditioning are just as important to teenagers as adults and that good posture at this age is vital. “Enjoying a range of sports for all round fitness is ideal”, she says.

Juliet also advises encouraging good nutrition and plenty of sleep, essential for a teenager’s energy levels, repair and recovery.

If you’re keen to encourage your daughter to take up running, why not run in an event with her? Our WR10K Race Series now offers a 5K option – perfect for runners of all abilities.


6 Rules for Figuring Out How Many Miles to Run a Week

Whether you’re planning to run a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon, these expert-backed rules will keep you fit and injury-free.

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Here’s the thing about race training: You want to run enough miles to physically prepare your body, but you also want to run as few miles as possible so you don’t overtax your body. But when training programs call for up to 200 miles of running before race day, it’s hard to know exactly where to draw that line.

How many miles should you run a day? A week? The answer really depends on your speed, your strength, and your experience—so there’s no one-size-fits-all mileage prescription. “Look at where you are right now,” says Melanie Kann, an RRCA-certified running coach for New York Road Runners. “If you’re running your first-ever 5K, you might start with a 5-mile-per-week program. If you’re running your first marathon, you might start with a 15-mile-per-week training plan.” Larger race distances require more of a base to start with (at least four months of consistent running, she recommends), but no matter what your end goal, you have to start with what you’re currently capable of doing versus what you want to be doing.

And, really, it’s less about blanket mileage goals and more about time on your feet, says Rich Velazquez, a running coach and chief operations officer at Mile High Run Club in New York City. “This allows the runner to progress safely, running/jogging/walking to their ability, yet still see cardiovascular benefits,” he says. “Ideally, in your longest training runs, you want to be on your feet for the amount of time you project it will take to finish your race. Your body is not a pedometer—it can’t measure miles, but it will quickly identify time and impact.”

If you’re not training for a race, just jogging five or six miles per week could put you at less risk for obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, diabetes, strokes, certain cancers, and arthritis, according to a review of studies analyzing over 500 runners. So “a great starting point for a beginner is running 20 minutes—the minimum amount of time needed to achieve cardiovascular benefits—three times a week,” says Velazquez.

If you are training, the following six rules can help you figure out just how far you need to go.

Rule 1: The longer the race, the higher the mileage.

Duh, right? If you’re training for a marathon, you’re obviously going to need to log more weekly miles than if you’re training for a 5K. No matter the race distance, though, there are three main components to a cohesive running program, says Velazquez: a long run day, a speed day, and a recovery day. “Your long run should be conducted at a slow pace and eventually last as long as your projected race time (remember, it’s about time on feet versus miles); your speed day is shorter in duration but faster than your predicted race pace; and your recovery day should be an easy/slow pace and lower mileage than your planned race,” he says. So you’ll have some longer runs and some shorter runs no matter what you’re training for; the ultimate mileage, of course, depends on your race distance.

Rule 2: Mileage requirements increase as performance goals increase.

If your goal is simply to finish a race, you can run fewer miles than if your goal is to finish with a fast time. “But as your goals shift towards performance, weekly mileage will most likely increase to support the demands of these goals: aerobic capability, energy utilization and sustainability over elongated periods of time, and efficiency of movement,” says Velazquez.

That’s because logging that time on your feet is what’s going to give you a stronger engine, adds Kann. “Obviously, your musculoskeletal system is going to get stronger as you spend more time on your feet,” she says. “But when you’re out there running, you’re fueled by oxygen—that’s what gets your muscles to fire and gets the blood moving around. So the more time you spend on your feet, the more it’s going to increase the capacity of your aerobic engine, which is going to fuel you to go stronger for longer.”

Rule 3: Not all miles are created equally.

No runner should go out and run the same pace every day; any good training plan should include speed, interval, tempo, and distance training, all of which offer different benefits. “Speed training is where the body will shape and improve its running economy (energy demand for a given speed) thus improving overall efficiency in energy consumption and oxygen utilization,” says Velazquez. “Interval training aligns specific speeds with specific intervals and set rest periods, tempo running is about maintaining consistent speeds over longer periods of time, and distance training is about getting the body used to impact and elongated performance.”

The point of all those different training modalities? Ideally, you become a better, more well-rounded runner. “If you only run at race pace, that’s the only pace you know,” says Kaan. “You want to get your system ready to be comfortable moving at paces faster than race pace, so that when you get to race day, that pace doesn’t feel so hard.” While the bulk of your miles should be easy, aerobic-based miles, those faster miles get you to that point where you’re clearing away the waste product in your muscles at the same rate that you’re accumulating it, she explains, which will make your body more efficient come race day.

Rule 4: Allow for adaptation when increasing mileage.

To avoid injury when upping your mileage, you need to take it slow and allow your body time to adapt to the increased workload. Many runners follow the 10 percent rule—i.e. never increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent over the previous week. “Most programs will build mileage week over week for about three weeks before introducing in a low mileage week (recovery),” Velasquez says. “From there, the buildup will start again as the body should have adapted from the increased volume with the rest and be ready and able to tackle more.”

Think about your runs in terms of quality over quantity, Kaan says. “If you’re adding additional speed workouts to your week, you don’t want to run a super long run that weekend,” she says. “You’re just asking a lot of your body all in a short period of time.” Your body, on a microscopic level, is breaking down muscle tissue when you run, and it needs to time to rebuild (that’s how you get stronger). It’s important to look at the whole picture when it comes to weekly mileage, and think about the kind of miles you’re running and how that will impact your body.

Rule 5: Listen to your body.

When you’re following a training plan, it’s natural to want to hit the exact mileage that’s indicated—that’s how it works, right? “We always tell people to start with a plan, but that plan is not the letter of the law,” says Kann. “It’s not like you’re going to get a failing grade if you don’t stick to that plan 100 percent.” Running mileage just for the sake of running mileage can actually backfire, because overtraining can lead to a general disintegration of performance or even injury. “Broken sleep, elevated resting heart rate, lack of motivation and restlessness are all signs of overtraining,” says Velasquez.

With running comes a certain level of discomfort; part of the challenge is pushing yourself past those I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this boundaries. But Kaan doesn’t advocate running through pain. “Discomfort naturally comes with training as your body adapts, but if you feel the pain on one side of your body and not on the other or if you’re dealing with some kind of persistent pain, that’s a sign that there’s some kind of imbalance at play,” she says. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and pull back your pace or take a rest day. No runner ever healed any kind of pain or injury by running more.

Rule 6: A healthy runner beats an injured runner every time.

At the end of the day, the most important goal of any runner—whether you’re running a marathon, half marathon, 10K, or 5K—is to make it to the starting line. “The last thing you want is to overload yourself, break yourself down, and then push yourself past your limits,” says Kaan. “That’s when you’re gonna pull yourself out of the game for three weeks to recover. Then you’re really in trouble.”

“If you’re not feeling up to run, rest and reschedule,” says Velazquez. “And should that feeling persist, people training for longer races (i.e. a marathon) should give priority to the long run over the speed training.” Remember: No one’s grading you on how well you stick to a mass-produced plan anyone on the Internet can download. The real test is race day, and just how well you can get through it.


Running Your Best In The Teen Years

Here are the strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between, teen runners should know about so they can maximize their running ability.

Running Your Best In The Teen Years

Ah, youth. Without even trying, you’re gaining speed and recovering instantly. Your body is catapulting into adulthood, and everything from muscle mass, strength, bone density, and VO2 max (the volume of oxygen your body takes in and processes) are on the rise. “A weakness?” says Jeremy Acosta, a 17-year-old cross-country star from Palmdale, California, who lists hills and his final kick as his fortes. “Um, maybe the middle mile of the race?” Yet even a young career can encounter roadblocks. As a freshman, Acosta suffered from Osgood-Schlatter, a common condition that strikes athletes during growth spurts. It causes tenderness just below the knee, and resolves itself once development slows. Acosta ran through it, and when it subsided, he grew into one of his region’s top runners.

1. Your Strengths

Runners in the throes of puberty have superpowers–literally. A British study compared 12 boys and 13 men doing 10 sets of 10-second sprints. The boys sustained their power output better than the men, partly because teens regenerate creatine (a compound that supplies muscles with energy) more quickly than older runners. Also, levels of lactate, the by-product that accompanies intense efforts, are naturally lower in teens. Girls share the same ability to pour on the power–and can sustain it even better than boys. Japanese researchers found that in a series of sprints, teenage girls lost 10 percent less power than boys their age did. That said, as muscle mass piles on, boys have a distinct upper hand–or, in this case, quad. “Boys develop proportionally more muscles than girls do and get the natural power advantage,” says Cameron Blimkie, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario.

As they develop, running–or other weight-bearing exercise–helps make bones as dense as possible. Blimkie coauthored studies that looked at the bones of female runners, triathletes, cyclists, and swimmers. Runners had the highest bone-mineral density and strength of the four groups.

2. Your Weaknesses

As fit as you are, your growing body still needs to be handled with care. Bones develop faster than their supporting ligaments and tendons. As a result, joints and muscles can be prone to injury.

Many young female runners who repeatedly miss their periods develop a condition called amenorrhea, says Anne Hoch, D.O., director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. One study determined that 30 to 41 percent of 422 high school- and college-aged female runners had the disorder. Amenorrhea is a red flag for all female runners but is especially troubling for teens in the midst of their bone-building years. (Menstruation releases estrogen, which is vital for calcium absorption.)

Experts advise both girls and boys to not take on too much mileage too soon, though there isn’t a con–sensus on what exactly “too much” is. Each year, a group of middle school and high school students runs the Los Angeles Marathon with a 90 percent finishing rate and very few medical problems on race day, according to Rudra Sabaratnam, M.D., medical commissioner of the race. Other experts think the marathon is worth waiting for. Lyle Micheli, M.D., director of sports medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, prefers a conservative approach: an upper limit of three miles, five days a week for kids younger than 14, and six miles most days a week for kids 14 to 18.

3. Exercise Rx

Work on building your form and your endurance so you can become a balanced, injury-free runner down the road. Practice sprint-specific drills, like high knees and skips, to build a strong foundation and fast turnover, ideally under a coach’s supervision. “If we can get an athlete to have good form during the early years, that helps so much with both performance and injury prevention in later years,” says coach Greg McMillan, owner of McMillan Running in Flagstaff, Arizona. Boost aerobic capacity by increasing long runs by five minutes weekly. Go by minutes, not miles, and when in doubt, take it slow. “Not every training run should end with your hands on your knees,” McMillan says.

4. Nutrition Rx

Got milk? You’d better–and yogurt, cheese, and other calcium-rich foods. To maximize your bone-building potential, the National Institutes of Health recommends 1,300 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily (eight ounces of milk has about 300 mg) for boys and girls up to age 18, when the recommendation drops to 1,000 mg until age 50. Girls with amenorrhea may need as much as 1,500 mg a day, Hoch says.


How to Stay Motivated as a Teenage Runner?

Many young runners struggle to keep motivated for their sport with new life distractions. It can be a challenge to manage time during the final years of school and throughout university – where exam pressure rises and your social calendar gets busier! Here are some tips to help you stay motivated to keep up your enjoyment and interest for running.


1. Keep a diary

It is useful to keep a training diary. You can use it to log in your times from your training sessions, and keep note of how you felt in the session. That way it is easy to look back and see your improvements and keep you motivated to reach your goals.

2. Race plan, set aims

Have your eyes set on a goal and you will therefore be more determined to achieve it. Your goal could be a particular race, or improving your times in training. That will help to keep you motivated as you will be focussed on one goal rather than many.

3. Invest in a running watch

Quite often, there are times when you will have to run on your own, which some people find tough to stay motivated. Having a watch will help you keep track of your training. For training sessions, you can set the watch to certain time intervals, so there is no need for someone to help time you. This way it is easy to complete a session solo. Record the pace and distance you run, take note of it in your training diary and see your progression as the season goes on! Another useful feature of a watch is a heart rate monitor. This will give you an idea of how hard you are working. Keeping track of your heart rate is also useful for noticing when you are under the weather, as there will be a slight increase in your heart rate, so you know then not to push too hard.

4. Join a running club

Joining a university in an area you are unfamiliar with is a daunting experience. Joining the university athletics club is a great way to meet new people with common interests. It will provide you with people to train with on cold winter nights and also people to socialise with, which really helps the team to bond, creating great team spirit. If you live near one of our stores, take a look at our local club listings that cater for juniors:

5. Time management

Make sure you have a balance between sport, work and socialising. It is challenging to keep focused with so many distractions, such as exams and parties. By managing your time you are more likely to keep on enjoying your sport. Keeping a diary will help.

6. Some little things to get you out the door

  • New kit and gear to run in.
  • An upbeat music playlist to listen to on your runs.
  • Subscribing to a running magazine such as Runners World or Athletics Weekly will provide you with articles which may catch your interest and keep you up to date with the latest news in the running world.
  • Wake up in the morning to inspirational quotes and posters on your bedroom wall.

So, there are plenty of ways to stay motivated, whatever your standard. Most importantly, remember to have fun and enjoy yourself. Enjoyment alone will see you from junior to senior level. Good luck!


How Much Running Is Healthy for a Teenage Girl?

Running has a wide variety of beneficial health effects for everyone, including young girls. Fitness, health, self-esteem and even team-building skills are all developed through running. The amount of running most beneficial for a young girl will depend on her reasons and needs for running, though establishing a minimum base level of running fitness can benefit almost any teenager.

How Much Running Is Healthy for a Teenage Girl?

Recommended Running Guidelines

Both the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend that everyone under age 65 perform moderately intensive cardiovascular exercise, such as running, at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Alternatively, you can also perform vigorous cardio exercise for at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week.

Fitness Benefits

Running benefits a teenage girl’s health and fitness in many ways, from the obvious to the more nuanced. A strong cardio base and experience in running can boost performance in many sports, including track and field, soccer, softball and basketball. Running burns calories, which helps keep young women lean. This also helps to prevent illnesses like childhood diabetes. Further, running can instill athletic and physical confidence in young women.

Team-Building and Social Benefits

Many running-related activities are also great ways to socialize or get involved in the local community. Races, charity runs and sports teams all provide intrinsic social value for teenage girls, while simultaneously providing a means to compete and improving their running ability.

Health Considerations

While there are many benefits for teenage girls participating in running, you should take certain precautions when working up to a regular running routine and to avoid running-related injury. To avoid overuse injuries like shin splints or pulled muscles, girls new to running should ease into any regular running routine by first following the minimum program guidelines and running at a manageable pace and distance, slowly increasing intensity and distance over time. Girls with existing health issues should also consult their family physician to ensure running a viable and safe sport for them.


9 Ways to Get Motivated to Run

Running grows more and more popular every year with good reasons: You can get involved in this fun and affordable sport with just a pair of running shoes, shirts and a T-shirt. You can run on sidewalks, a track or trail and no matter where you live, you can run. Running is one of the best things you can do for your body and spirit.


If you’ve never run before, turning off the TV and getting of the couch might be challenging. These tips will help get you motivated and progress from a couch potato to a race runner in no time while having fun.

Know Your Objective

If you don’t know why you are doing it, you are likely to give up too soon. You may want to lose weight, lower blood sugar, get healthy, spend more time outdoors, fight depression or embrace the activity a friend or loved one is doing so you can spend more time with him or her. No matter what the reason is, make sure you know why you want to run.

Set a Goal

It is much easier to stay motivated if you have a concrete, measurable goal. If you are new to running, sign up for a race. Registering for a race can perform miracles for your motivation—you’ll have to work hard to have your money pay off. Participation in a race is also a great way for a beginner to get involved with the running community. Once you cross the finish line, you’ll be hooked forever.

Find Partners in Crime

Everything is easier and much more fun when you have someone to share it with. Running is a great way of spending time with people you care about or making new friends. Schedule runs with your spouse, kids or friends, and you’ll run out of excuses not to run when someone asks, “Are we running today?” Can’t encourage your close ones to run with you? Sign up for a local running club. You will make new friends and get lots of support.

Follow a Training Plan

Many beginners make the same mistake. They just put on their shoes and try to run for as long as they can. In five minutes or less, they run out of breath, switch to walking and swear not to do it again. Following a training plan will make it easy for you to ease into running and progress safely. Programs like the popular C25K are designed just for beginners and bring you, step-by-step, from 60 seconds of running to a 5K race. Plus, they are a great motivation: Once you start week one, you can’t wait to graduate.