Author: Benita Willis | February 7, 2018

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Last Sunday, the annual Twilight Running Festival saw thousands of eager runners take on the streets of St Lucia. With record numbers and many personal bests being set over the course of the evening, the event was once again a huge success and saw many people already marking their calendars for next year. One of the most enjoyable events of the night was the 1km Active Kids Run, which with over 400 kids competing made it the largest u12 kids event in Australia. With plenty of free kids entertainment such as face painting, obstacle courses and soccer there is no question as to why it is such a popular event for the kids. There was no time for the kids to feel any pre-race nerves or anxiety as they were too busy having fun and experiencing all that the event had to offer. The success of the kids race at the event reflects the philosophy of Intraining, the event organisers, who believe that kids should develop a love of running from a young age by seeing it as a fun and rewarding activity.


So, why is it so important for kids to be introduced to running at a young age? Learning to enjoy keeping active from a young age will set them up for a lifetime of health and happiness, and will ensure that they are always able to experience the benefits that running has to offer. Steve Manning, coach at Intraining, says that through running, “the vast majority of kids will be reaping the physical benefits of a lifetime habit of exercise leading to better health and mortality. The mental benefits of running include better grades due to better cognitive function, less depression and increased resilience. Setting a challenging goal and achieving it after putting in the required workload is a lesson that can be transferred to any area of their lives.”


One argument that is often raised against introducing kids to a sport so young is that they may experience burnout and stop enjoying the sport. However, as long as training is kept fun and not too intense for the child then there is no reason why continuing to develop their love for running should lead to burnout. Children should also avoid specialising in one sport as they should be free to try a range of different sports and activities.


Ricky Swindale, Intraining athlete, says that Intraining’s philosophy for kids training is “to have a very gradual progression in training intensity and quantity.  We tend to do less intensity and focus more on pace judgement sessions. We do not want the kids racing every session as that is the main cause of burnout.  Not everyone can be an elite athlete so we make sure that all levels of runners are included and appreciated.  It must be the child’s decision about how hard or how much they want to run. “


Intraining offers kids running sessions on Mondays and Thursdays, and the sessions are designed to develop the love of running for life and to give kids the foundations of running technique, pace judgement, race strategies and tactics. All sessions involve a warmup, stretching session, running drills and then the running session with a specific type of goal in mind. In order to keep the sessions fun and enjoyable, the session always finishes with a running game such as red rover or tiggy. This is often the kids’ favourite part of the session and will keep them eager to come back each week!


As the children get older, Intraining helps them to set staged goals for different races in order to help keep them motivated. “Once the students are at high school, intraining encourages them to transition into the adult running Speed work groups on Tuesdays to give a harder session with a greater range of abilities,” says Swindale.  “Mixing in with the adults can also develops another level of emotional maturity that is useful for teens.”


Interested in taking your kids along to an Intraining session? Follow this link for more information about session times and locations .