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Kids racing through childhood


Kids racing through childhood

by Margot Manning, intraining podiatrist and running coach

As a parent it can sometimes be hard to watch primary school races knowing that your child can be up against some kids who have much higher training loads or who are so much ‘bigger’.  

There are so many factors at play… different phases of physical & emotional maturity between children of the same age, and on different days of the week for the same child.  Most of the time, it is a game of patience, waiting, and nurturing until the child is almost at high school age.  There is also an element of keeping your fingers crossed in the hope that the plan of waiting pays off. 

The moment does come however, when there is a transformation and ‘your boy races as a man’.  The change, of course has occurred over some time, however, it can seem that the emotional and physical maturity just happens overnight.  Gone are the anxious warm up discussions, moments of self-doubt, and frequent checks on competitors.  Gone also is the wiry, knobbly kneed child.   Standing at the start line is a noticeably more robust & stronger looking student with the composure that says: “Bring it on, I’m ready to race.” 

And the race does happen… Spectacularly.  There is control in those frantic moments after the gun fires; contact maintained with the leading pack; and a sprint finish that causes a reverberating cheer from the stands.   Success…  and a huge boost in your child’s confidence.  Suddenly everything seems to have fallen in place and you have a new child.  

This ‘morph’ is a reminder as a coach, and parent, that children’s successes will come with maturity.  The age at which this happens is unknown and will be different for each child.  The key to succeeding is to provide running experiences where they can experiment and learn what it is like to run with both wins and losses and with the ultimate goal to eventually love running. 

The new Kids Love Running program is a place where you as a parent and your child can discover running.  It’s where you will learn what type of runner your child is, how to help your child establish the habit of running.  It’s a place where your child will learn strategies, tips and race tactics, and ultimately where they might find that love of running. 

P.S. The original article was written years ago after one of our junior intraining runners had a breakthrough.

It was an incredibly exciting moment because after years of trying to qualify for a regional team, the boy ran the race of his life to place.  

Luckily, as a coach, I see the ‘morph’ occur with so many of our boys and girls from the intraining running groups.