By: Maddie Hatfield

Parent’s Listen Up!

The question is always up in the air about how parents can support their kids running experience. “How can I support my kid without being too hard on them?” or “What can I do to encourage my kids running experience?” Running is considered a very unpopular sport by the majority of people… so why does anyone choose to run for fun? Running can be a very rewarding sport Parents play a very key role in the success of youth runners. Sometimes, the bare necessities like a small water-bottle and some average tennis shoes don’t cut it. Our bodies are the most important thing to maintain and if there isn’t somewhat of a sacrifice to help your child stay healthy while their running, it’s almost impossible for them to be successful as a runner. Running is more than a simple “go run”. Running requires maintenance and motivation. As it is one of the most mental sports out there, it’s not always easy for us runners to just get up and go do the work on our own. Some days, it hurts to roll out of bed and get the work in before the sun comes up. Some days, you procrastinate running until the evening, debating all day whether or not you should go for your 30-minute run. Some days, it’s hard to do the little things like eating well or rolling out or making sure you go to bed at a decent hour, so you’re not sleep deprived for next morning’s run. Parents can have an important role of holding their runners’ accountable, making sure that they are getting in the work without forcing them into hating the sport.

Parents, it’s also important to engage with your kids about running. It’s good to know what they enjoy most about running. Ask them what their favorite races are? Favorite types of runs? Favorite workout? Running consists of more than just running for some amount of time. It’s also more than just winning races or being the fastest. Every athlete has different goals for their running experience. For some, their goal may be to win every single race. For others, the goal is to finish the race. Running doesn’t always require the objective of winning. That is something that is more difficult for the parents to fathom versus the athletes who understand what they are and aren’t capable of. It’s good to support your child in whatever they want to accomplish. Inspire them to challenge themselves. Encourage them to not just stay in their comfort zone for workouts and races. You don’t get better by staying comfortable. Encourage them to be their best runner self. Serve as a motivational tool for your athlete.

The saying goes, treat others the way you want to be treated. That same rule applies when it comes to supporting your kid. The attitude that parents have about their child’s running career will have a surprising effect on the way athletes not only feel about themselves but also, the amount of motivation that the athletes have towards excelling in running. You, parents, play the role of the boss. If you have a mean boss, what makes you want to work for them? If you put an unnecessary amount of pressure on your athlete that it tears them down mentally and physically, they won’t reap much of the confidence that they’ve sown through training. Intense amounts of pressure from parents is one of the quickest ways for your athlete to experience burnout and develop a hatred towards the beautiful sport of running. Do the little things as parents to support your athlete. Whether it be showing up for your kids’ meets or making them healthy meals, your actions and attitude are an important part to their running process. As a runner, nothing made me happier than to come home from a workout and see my favorite meal on the table or hearing my parents cheering for me at my meets. Their consistent encouragement and support have made a huge impact on my running career to this day. It’s not just running circles around a track. Every athletes’ hard work deserves to be respected by all the people that have influence in their running journey.