meb better be on his toes
July 31, 2005 7:53 AM   Subscribe

How to encourage a budding 6-year-old runner?

My little brother just did a kid's fun run and did really well. He won his age group easily and had a blast. He really wants to do more, and I'd like to encourage him, but I don't know what's safe for a little kid. How much can he run? How long of races can he do? Should I just let it go or should I take him on short runs with me when I go?
posted by ohio to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would suggest getting him into track and field activities either at the local sport center or through his school, but at age six there might not be much available.
posted by furtive at 9:12 AM on July 31, 2005

I would ask your pediatrition, or at least a bone a fide doctor.
posted by crewshell at 9:15 AM on July 31, 2005

Running is brutal on your body, especially at that age. Most people I know weren't able to start seriously running until they were 15, 16, 17 (seriously running in this case was 6+ miles a day 6 days a week). Also keep in mind that there is an idea (no idea if its 100% prevalent or just out there) that runners have about 15 years to actively run; 10 years to seriously train to peak, a year or two at the top, and a few years where they're still good. And after that, your career's over.
posted by devilsbrigade at 10:15 AM on July 31, 2005

Hmmm. . . yeah. I was mostly thinking about letting him run half a mile to a mile at a time, once a week or so, just when I went out. I'll check with his doctor next time we go in.
posted by ohio at 10:24 AM on July 31, 2005

Six is very young, but I don't see a problem with the 'fun runs'. If the child is having fun without being pushed constantly I'd say go for it.

It's when you see a six year old being pushed to complete a 5K, losing interest around the first turn, that you shake your head.

Small children don't have a good grasp on time and space. So they might understand "run to the tree". But running for 3 miles, and pacing themselves over distance isn't really natural at that age.
posted by justgary at 10:52 AM on July 31, 2005

Get him to join an orienteering club. That way he can learn practical and social skills, rather than how to get really good at pounding down a road staring into space. There is usually a healthy kids section in most clubs.

Unlike adults, kids tend to just stop when they've had enough so it should be self-regulating.
posted by RichLyon at 1:46 PM on July 31, 2005

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