While children seem to have boundless energy, participating in an organised run is a whole new ball game. By Deborah Lin
Yes, your child needs a training plan too. (Photo: PaylessImages / www.123rf.com)
You wouldn’t go for a race without training for it, so make sure to prep the kids too. Parents of pre-schoolers (children aged six and below), be prepared that just getting them to jog for a longer distance might be a challenge as they’ve only had free and active play in kindergarten.
Older children, who have experienced structured physical education lessons in primary school, are more likely to have better fitness levels and endurance, and be able to complete a few training jogs before the big day. Here are four other pre-race prep tips for your child’s first race.
1. Pre-race prep for children: Go slow but steady
To prepare for the race, your child needs to start running, says Ray McGregor, founder and trainer at Gym N Tonic, a boutique studio offering personal training classes for children. For younger kids, who might find running too boring or difficult, Ray advises starting with a mix of running and walking – much like how race day will pan out.
Dr Andrew Lim, consultant from the division of Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at the National University Hospital, recommends a graduated programme when training children for race day: “Start with short distances, and then, depending on the age or fitness of your child, slowly build up with increments of 100m or add one minute to training each day.”
Also ensure that children sleep earlier in the days leading up to the run.
2. Pre-race prep for children: Eat right
Children might be fussy eaters, but it is important for them to fuel up correctly for the run. Do kids need to carbo-load? Yes. Dr Lim recommends they eat more carbs (rice, bread, pasta or cereal) in addition to lean meat, fruits and vegetables over three days to help build up energy reserves.
Check your child’s shoes are in good condition, otherwise get new ones. (Photo: Deborah Lin)
3. Pre-race prep for children: Proper footwear
You probably know Junior shouldn’t wear new kicks on race day (read: blisters!), so make sure you check that his shoes are in good condition at least two weeks before the run. Otherwise, buy new ones and break them in about three weeks before race day.
Skechers, Nike and New Balance have a range of running shoes just for children. Good ones should have adequate arch support, says Dr Lim, who adds that a well-fitting pair of socks is also important.
4. Pre-race prep for children: Medical clearance
Your child should be fit to run if he is healthy with no pre-existing medical conditions, assures Dr Lim. However, if your child feels any discomfort or is unwell during the period of training leading up to the race, you should take him to see the doctor for medical clearance.