Running programs for adults are very different from running programs for kids, so if you want to get your little ones running, don’t just add them to your program, find one that’s made just for them! There are so many marvelous running programs for kids, it may be overwhelming to narrow the field to just the one program that will be inspiring, motivating, and most of all, fun! I’ve scoured the internet and running magazines to find just the right running program for Sophie, my little runner-in-training, and I’d love to share what I’ve found. So get your mini-runner fitted for a pair of running shoes, grab a water bottle, and let’s go!
1. Kids Run the Nation
Info at: rrca.org
Most running programs for kids are organized at the school level, for ease of access, of course, and Kids Run the Nation is no different. It’s the young-people version of the popular adult running club, the Road Runners Club of America, and since 1986, it’s been focused on helping kids meet the daily and weekly fitness recommendations outlined by the USDA. The goal of Kids Run the Nation is to have a running club or program installed in every grade school across the States… very ambitious!
2. Girls on the Run
Info at: girlsontherun.org
As the name implies, this running program is aimed at turning the next generation of little girls into little runners, starting in 3rd to 8th grade. Their focus is on making girls confident and healthy through physical fitness, which, of course, includes running! What I love about GOTR is that the adults involved seem to benefit from the program, too, finding inspiration from the girls they’re training.
3. Hershey’s Track and Field Games
Info at: hersheystrackandfield.com
While this may not seem like a very good fit – a sweets company encouraging a healthy lifestyle? – this youth-oriented program is marvelous! They sponsor activities and events across the country, with almost 500 kids participating in their annual finals. Some of the young competitors end up at competing in, and even medaling at, the Olympics!
4. USATF Junior Olympics
Info at: usatf.org
This program is intense, for serious mini-athletes, but it’s still one of the most popular, attracting more than 70,000 young competitors each year. It’s aimed at slightly older kids who’ve already expressed an interest and some talent in track and field.
5. Morning Mile
Info at: morningmile.com
This running program may be aimed at kids, but since I run in the morning, I loved it myself! I really like the idea of encouraging physical activity as the perfect way to start the day. As adults, we know that sometimes, if it doesn’t happen first thing in the morning, it may not happen at all… and that a morning run is the best way to get your mind and body ready for a great day!
6. Let Me Run
Info at: letmerun.org
If you have a little guy who’s just a bundle of energy, and needs a positive outlet for all that get-up-and-go, this is the running program for him! I love the positive energy in this group, encouraging team work, self-improvement, and of course, physical fitness. Their credo is right there on their home page, and it’s brilliant.
7. Fit Girls
Info at: fitgirls.org
Like Girls on the Run, this running program is designed just for girls and young women, specifically 4th and 5th graders. They have a keen focus on fitness paired with reading and community service… what a combination! That’s why their motto is “healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy hearts.”
8. Make Your Own!
So maybe none of these programs seem just right for your little runner-to-be… now what? How about making your own running program, working with your local school or parks and rec department to put together a running club and training program? Sometimes, if you want something done just right, you have to do it yourself, right?
There are also loads of local kid’s running programs, so do a little poking around and find just the right running program for your little sprinter or half-marathoner! Which of these running programs do you think will be just right for your little guy or gal? Or will you make your own?