Getting Back to Basics- Running with Kids

So you’ve decided you want to run with your child but what do you need? Starting any new routine takes patience and finding ways to make it fit into your life. What works for you and your family when it comes to running together may or may not work for others. Try not to get stuck by a fixed mindset where you look for a one size fits all approach or plan. What’s best for your child will depend on personality, schedule, size of your family, where you live, and so much more. Below are some key points to keep in mind as you get started on this journey:

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Keep it simple. Start where you are and with what you have.

Make time. It’s sounds so easy but making time is the biggest obstacle families have when it comes to exercise and being fit. Running itself doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t need fancy equipment or tons of gadgets and gear. You don’t even need prior experience. You just have to make the decision to make time. If health and fitness are important goals for your family, you find the time to make time for it. It’s a matter of determining what works for you and following through with it. Start small with a few minutes and go from there.

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Don’t get overwhelmed by details. The most important thing to remember about running with your child is finding joy in the time you get to spend together, building fitness, and working towards goals and life skills.

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Start small and keep it fun. Focus on fun, not distance when starting with young runners. Avoid focusing on time goals or specific race goals right away unless your child is older and has run races in the past. These things come naturally as your child progresses.

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Follow their lead. Let your child decide what they want from running. Maybe they will want to race or work towards a goal and maybe they just want running to be about games and spending time with you.

Think family. Try to find ways to include the whole family in running as a way to promote family fitness. There are more and more fun family running opportunities being offered throughout communities all over the nation. If there aren’t family races or track nights, make your own family fun runs and incorporate running into your schedule in whatever ways that work best for you.

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Foster a love for running and fitness. Model a love and enjoyment of running and fitness. Keeping it positive will help your child grow to love running and fitness too!

1661903_10153845989695461_629705841_nBe present. Be there for your child — not looking at your phone or thinking about what’s for dinner or what’s on your to-do list. As parents, it can be so easy to get caught up with daily distractions and interruptions. The most important part about running with our kids is the opportunity to spend quality bonding time together. Another benefit is building fitness and teaching skills and habits that will carry over into the rest of their lives.

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Slow down. Remember they are kids and it’s going to take time. They don’t know how to pace properly. Whether they are running 50 meters or one mile they probably have one pace (all out sprint!) so it’s a good time to talk with them about pacing and saving some energy for later.

January 1, 2014Be consistent. Set a time when you can run or do some kind of fun physical activity together and stick to it. Even if it’s just a few minutes once or twice a week — make it a priority. However, if you get off track, it’s okay.  Ease back into it and try again!

Runner Girl- Ella’s Story BOOK REVIEW and GIVEAWAY!

Last week a friend of mine recommended a book series to me that she recently came across called Go! Go! Sports Girls.  My friend has a PhD in Reading/ Children’s Literature as well as a daughter who is active in sports so I knew if she recommended the book series it must be good! She thought one in particular would fit right in with the Run with Me Kids mission and she was right!  I read the first one to my daughter and we were hooked!

RG4The first book we read was, “Runner Girl Ella’s Story.” We loved it!

annaRGElla is a little girl who wants her own dog but her parents don’t think she’s quite ready for the responsibility yet.  She decides to start walking her neighbors dog which soon leads to running.  Pretty soon Ella is literally running her own neighborhood dog run/ walking business.  She slowly recruits her own family members to help her.  At first each family member has a reason why they can’t but once they start to help it turns out to be a great way for them to exercise too.  In the end they all decide to run in a local 5k together.  There’s a great message in this story about learning responsibility and working together as a family.  I also love the fun facts about running that are sprinkled throughout the book.

RG3The entire Go! Go! Sports Girls series promotes the benefits of exercise, eating right, and overall health.  Each book also comes with it’s very own doll dressed in character. The books encourage good self-esteem and include a positive message.  I especially like that the books include the importance of family and working together.  I would recommend these books to every family with young kids!

The wonderful folks at Go! Go! Sports Girls have offered the Run with Me Kids readers a 20% off discount off all series products from now through February 2nd.  At the checkout just enter the code:  GGSG20.

We will also be giving away one copy of the book Runner Girl Ella’s Story and the doll Ella to a Run with Me Kids reader!

Giveaway will run now through 11:59 pm (e.s.t.) on January 31st. To enter, just like Go! Go! Sports Girls and Run with Me Kids on Facebook and follow Go! Go! Sports Girls and  @RunwithMeKids on Twitter.  For an extra entry, you can tweet about the giveaway as well.  Then, please comment below if you have done any of these things.

Good luck!!

Running with Kids: Knowing when to push and when to be silent AND the Winner of the Kids Brooks Shoes Giveaway!!

It was hot.  She was tired.  We still had 2 miles left and she was DONE.  I knew she wanted to finish all 10 miles but I just didn’t know if she would make it. 7-3-14iphone 129On her 10th birthday Abi wanted to run 10 miles.  She had participated in the 100 mile club at school and had run in a recent 10k.  Still, this was almost 4 more miles.  We had plenty of water and took some stretching breaks.  We were on the final stretch home when she said she just couldn’t do it.  I asked her if I needed to call daddy.  She thought for a second and said “No!” Then she started running again.  I told her she could do it.  She could do hard things. If she could run 10 miles and not give up then she could do just about anything her entire 5th grade year. I pushed her just enough and she finished her first 10 mile run. She was determined to do it and so she did.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her more proud!

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10 miles on her 10th birthday! Her motto- “I can do hard things!”

Less than 2 months later was a local 1 mile race.  She had asked me if I would race with her so she could try to set her 1 mile PR.  For whatever reason she was running angry and frustrated.  I knew nothing good would come from trying to push her.  It needed to come from her.  I started to say a few encouraging words but she wasn’t having it.  My motherly instinct told me to be quiet and let her lead.  This was not the time and she was NOT in the mood for any for running advice. abifinishOnce she was done she immediately realized she could have pushed herself harder which made her angry at herself and full of regret.  She missed her PR and she knew it was because she just gave up on herself.  It was hard to witness this as a parent because I have been there so many times myself and I know exactly how that feels.  But she needed to learn this lesson in her own way and I needed to learn that not every run together is an opportunity to push.  Sometimes as a parent we just have to know when to be silent and when it is the right time to step in or out of a situation.  She didn’t want me up in her business.  She needed me to be quiet.  The truth is that not every run together is full of joy and magical happy moments.  Sometimes it’s plain hard.   After the race, once she was ready we talked about it which was really helpful.  Needless to say, we both learned some lessons that day. How do you know when to push your child?  Obviously there’s no exact answer and it will depend on many things but here are a few suggestions that may help:

  1. Know your child.  This includes knowing their athletic ability, their competitive (or lack of competitive) nature and their motivation.  Why do they want to do this? 
  2. Know your child’s goal.  Is it realistic?  Can they do it?  Are they prepared?  How hard are they willing to work for it?
  3. Know the situation.  What works one day might not work another day for any number of reasons.  If you are encouraging your child through a challenging part and they listen and make an effort to stay focused then they are still “coachable.”  But if any motivation or words of support seem to be aggravating or angering your child more then it’s time to stop.  Either stop running or stop talking!  Whatever it takes.

Running with your child is an opportunity to bond together.  It’s an opportunity for your child to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.  I’ve found that when in doubt it helps to look at the big picture.  Yes, sometimes they need pushed.  Knowing they can do hard things instills confidence and drive.  Other times they need to figure it out on their own.  They might not be ready for it just yet and that’s ok.  They’ll get there…

And now the announcement you’ve been waiting for…

It was a very hard decision so we appreciate everyone who voted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

THE WINNER OF THE #RUN1 BROOKS KIDS SHOES GIVEAWAY IS…..

NatalieNatalie, and the happy jumping runners!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first Run with Me Kids running event! We have an exciting new giveaway coming Monday so stay tuned…

Running and Racing as a Family! And a Follow-Up to Goal Setting with Kids.

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Gorgeous day! It took a little bit of work to get everyone out for a family walk/run by the river before it got dark, but we did it! And we were all happier for it when all was said and run! A family of Brooks Running runners…Pure Flows for kids for them and Cascadias for mom and dad! Now we just need a Brooks canine line!

Yesterday was one of those rare spring-like winter days here in Central Oregon. Sixty degrees with blazing blue skies, and sunshine that seemed to reach every corner.  I was determined to get the whole family outside on a walk, hike, or run after school.  As soon as the kids got home, I let them know our plan:  “We are all going outside to run on the trails as a family!”  Of course, all three of them sweetly complied like angels.  Ha!  Yeah right!  There were a few arguments.  One child insisted on wearing shorts and a t-shirt because we’d just announced how warm it was out there (not quite shorts weather).  Another child wanted to stay home and roller blade with her friend.  And the other had heard that I needed a photo of all of us running together for a magazine that asked to do a feature on Run with Me Kids so she was prepping to be the next runway fashion model.  Oh boy.  I just want a family run!  Forget the picture and the outfit change!

We finally got outside and everyone was mostly on the same page: taking part in family time, enjoying our trails, and being active. Batman (aka my five-year-old son) had a few choice statements to express his discontent at having to get out of the house but he eventually “warmed up” despite his shorts and t-shirt on a shady mountain path next to the river.  He was stubborn enough to not admit that Mom and Dad were right when they said he should just stay in pants and a long-sleeve shirt…so he just ran faster to keep warm.

When we got home, I was inspired to grab my calendar and pencil in some running events for the 2015 year (in addition to the Boston Marathon and my first 50k ultra)! One of my first races to write in was the four mile trail race held on Mother’s Day weekend at one of the most scenic locations in Oregon: Smith Rock State Park.  This will be a race where I run for free (all Moms do) with my daughters. You can read more about these Smith Rock Races on my Runninghood Post:  Visit Central Oregon on Mother’s Day Weekend: Races for the Whole Family!  During this weekend, there will also be a mile fun run for my son on the same day as the 4 miler and a half marathon on Mother’s Day that I’ll do if I’m feeling up to it so close to a marathon.

Above all the races I added to the calendar, I think the 4 mile Smith Rock trail race with my girls (ages 10 and 8) will be one of my favorites.  Not only is this a race that I can enjoy with my kids, it will provide us with an opportunity for quality time together as we work up to race day.  It will also give us an opportunity to set some fitness goals as a family!  “Training” for this race will mostly involve simply getting outside together to run a few times a week.  The race itself will be about enjoying a 4 mile run together.  No time pressure.  Just running in a beautiful place and feeling proud and happy at the end!

Over the next few months, as a family, we will:

  • make time to run together
  • spend more time than not being active and doing what we love: playing, hiking, exploring, running, etc
  • get excited about our May family race weekend at Smith Rock!

A few afterthoughts from my last post on setting goals as a family and with our kids:

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Having these visual reminders is good for keeping all of us on track! The kids have accountability and pride in seeing their progress and I am reminded to notice and draw attention to more of the positive behaviors instead of nagging so much! I love sticker charts!!

How’s it going?  It’s only been a handful of days since our kids set some goals for themselves and we got a couple of sticker charts on the wall but WOW, what a difference it makes!  It has been a huge motivator for all of us, especially my youngest.  Having a sticker chart on the wall with our goals and progress visible, is not only a motivator for the kids but a reminder to me as a parent to focus more on their positive behavior instead of nagging at them for the things they aren’t doing.

Why set goals? In our last post we mentioned that one of our goals at RWMK is to create an environment for parents who want guidance, inspiration, and information on running with kids. Another goal is to include information on building healthy life habits (mind, body, spirit) with our kids. One of these life habits we think is important is knowing how to set and work towards goals.   For as long as I can remember, I’ve set long and short term goals for my life.   The benefits of goal setting are great!  When we set and achieve personal goals (big and small) we experience motivation and empowerment.  Writing our goals down and sharing them can also provide accountability that helps keep us working hard to achieve the things we want most!  Having goals for our life can also help us feel a sense of control – who doesn’t like to feel in control just a bit??  Um, I will fully admit that I like to feel like I’m driving the life bus (even if I’m not entirely in control)!

Why teach our children to set goals?  Children are people too!  Little people, yes, but the tools and healthy habits that we use as adults, can also be beneficial to them.  Teaching our kids to take ownership over their goals and be intentional about their choices and actions is just one way we are helping them learn skills that will carry over to the rest of their lives in positive ways.  One of my earliest memories involves visualizing goals for my life. When I was around five or six-years-old is when my mom had us illustrate all the fruits of the spirit.  She drew a box for each trait: Love, Joy, Peace, Kindness, Patience, Self Control.  Then we talked about them and illustrated what each one might look like in our life.  This helped me not only understand what these traits meant for me but also to visualize how I wanted to make them part of my life. To this day I think back to that day as the beginning of a goal-driven life!

Are goals just for the new year? Absolutely not!  In fact, understanding that you will likely change your goals a few times throughout the year and being willing to be flexible will set you for more success than if you give up because you realize your goals started to change when you came across new roads/bumps in life.  Goals are simply a framework.  They provide guidance and direction.  Let them help you-not make you feel trapped!

Charts Charts Charts!  I’ve always been a fan of creating sticker charts with my kids to help them work towards goals.  We’ve done this with potty training, chores, working towards earning a trip to Disneyland and so much more.  Whenever we’ve gone a long time without our goals written down where we can see them or on a sticker chart, I wonder why I’ve gone so long!! It works so well with my kids.  Not only is it good for them to have a reminder of what they are working on and to be able to see their progress on their charts, but it helps me remember be mindful of noticing their specific progress.  Win win!

Things I try to remember about goals (and tell my kids):

  • They can be temporary–they aren’t set in stone.
  • Let them change as you change–rewrite as you go.
  • It’s helpful to write them down.  Seeing goals on paper is often the first step to breathing life into them!
  • Put them where you can see them.
  • Celebrate success! As you accomplish short and long-term goals, acknowledge your growth, efforts, and progress!
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After our family run was all said and run, everyone was all smiles!

Thank you for joining our Run with Me Kids community here and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  It has been exciting to see this online community come together and we hope it continues to grow!

 Do you set goals for your life (long and short-term)?  Do you help your child set goals?
Amanda

#Run1 Recap- Welcome to the Run with Me Kids Community!

We wanted to take a few minutes to thank the many families who participated in the first ever #Run1 event.  We appreciate you joining our online community.  One of our goals at RWMK is to create an environment for parents who want guidance, inspiration, and information on running with kids.  Our mission is to bring parents and kids together through running and staying active while promoting fitness and health, growing relationships and teaching invaluable life skills.

On January 1, families across the country participated in our first virtual family running event.  We encouraged families to run/ walk one mile or do something active together.  Run with Me Kids joined forces with Cassie from Run with My Girl who created a Facebook event for Run1.

Below is a handful of pictures from the 2015 Run1 event.  What a great way to kick off the new year!

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Way to go Amanda (aka Miss Zippy!)

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Making it a family event! Thanks Amanda!

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Way to get out there with the jogging stroller Anna!

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Ashley and her family went for a hike in the Smoky Mountains!

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Beverly and her son went for a New Year’s run together too!

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Love the running pics Casey!

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It looks like Cassie and her kids had a great New Year’s run together!

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Cindy and her crew enjoyed the outdoors on 1-1!

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Her New Year’s resolution was to run a half mile- she ran a whole mile! Thanks for sharing this Dina!

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Look at that big smile! Thanks for sharing these pictures Holly!

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This was truly a group effort! Two families joined forces and ran together for a very memorable 1-1 run! Thanks Jana & Meg for sharing this with us.

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Looks like a beautiful day for a run! Thank you Joann!

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Way to go Katie and boys!

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Kerri and her crew started the year with a hike together!

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Leslie and her son were able to get some fresh air together.

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Love the energy Natalie and her girls had for this run together!

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Sheryl and her family started the year with a vacation AND a race! Great idea!

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Love this picture Tarasa sent in of her little runner! Looks like she knows what she’s doing!

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Skiing is an excellent outdoor exercise activity to do as a family! Thanks for the pictures Tema!

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Tia and kids getting in a family run together before the rain!

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Way to go Tiffani and son! Look at those smiles!

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Zita and her family enjoyed lots of running around which included a trip to the park!

Thanks for sharing your adventures with us! We look forward to making this an annual event.

Goal Setting with Kids: Habits That Last a Lifetime

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What is the framework for success?  What motivates us? What works in helping us stay on track and experience success?  And most importantly, what makes us WANT to accomplish something?

These were questions I wrote down almost four years ago when I found myself questioning how to bring more order into our home.  I was stressed out as a mother and sick and tired of nagging at my kids. The more I nagged and reacted out of stress, the less I felt in control.  I started to question my parenting tools and the effectiveness of my continual reminders and harping on my kids to do things exactly the way I wanted while putting very little of the responsibility in their court.

It was at that point when I became more mindful of helping my children learn the life skills and healthy habits that have been so valuable for me. One of the most powerful habits in my life has been having small and large goals to guide me.  I started teaching my kids how to set and work towards goals too.  Over the years, I’ve continued to encourage my kids to set long and short-term goals for their lives and we’ve used sticker charts and various incentive tools to help.

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There’s something about sticker charts and goals on my walls that leave me feeling happy! They keep us all on track too. They are visual reminders for the kids on what they want to work on most and for me to notice more of the positive behaviors (catch them in the act). It’s also nice for us all to see our progress!

While I was reflecting on my own goals yesterday in an attempt to get ready for this first week back after holiday break, I realized that it had been quite some time since I’ve helped my kids reflect on and set goals for themselves. Truly for themselves…where they feel ownership and aren’t just doing things because I’m making them! It was clear to me that it was time for all of us to have a reset where we set some personal and group goals for self-improvement as well as playing our part in making our family one that runs on love and working together!

So, the last day of holiday break was a fresh goal setting day for the whole family!  It started with just my son and me sitting down with some markers and scratch paper.  We scribbled down some of the most important things we wanted to work on together, talked about what this looked like and slapped a goal chart on the wall. Simple.  Easy.  Effective.  And only a little bit of coaxing on my part.  This worked just fine and I could have stopped there.  Really, my son is the one who thrives the most out of all my kids when it comes to these goal-driven sticker charts. They are magic for him!

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Goal setting with kids can be as simple as grabbing a marker, scratch paper and a some old stickers. Don’t make it harder than it has to be by trying to make it Pinterest potential!

But then I got to thinking about how I might involve the rest of the family in setting some goals like we used to. After all, this is a habit that benefits everyone!  I looked back to an old post I’d written almost four years ago called:  Goals for Today, Success for a Lifetime.  In this post, I talked about the process I went through with my daughters (then almost 6 and 4) in setting goals and making a sticker chart.  First impressions of reading my old self:

What??  Is this for real? How did I have that much time on my hands?  How did I have that much energy?? How did I get them to cooperate so willingly?? Oh, wait, that’s right, once my third child was talking [back] and walking and having very strong opinions, parenting reached a whole new playing field! I’d prefer to say I’ve just embraced a more relaxed and hands-off approach to parenting.  True in some ways but I’m also a heck of a lot more tired!

I quickly got over being overwhelmed, slightly annoyed and intimidated by the routines and process we embraced when the girls will little! I’ve definitely changed over the years and I’m glad for that but this was one habit of my past parenting that I want to keep up!  If we did it then, why couldn’t we do it now if we wanted to? So, we did.

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Guidelines I used to get this family goal setting ball rolling:

  • Keep it simple.  Just start.  Scratch paper, broken crayons, messy writing…just start as you are!  This doesn’t need to be a Pinterest project!!
  • Brainstorm a list together of all the things we think we’d like to work on.
  • After the initial list has been made, try to put all the specific goals into no more than four categories.  This not only helps to keep it simple but  also allows for each child to think of how the categories look for them as an individual when it comes time to reflect/illustrate each of the main goals.  For older kids, they might come up with a number of specific goals or examples of IMG_7475how each category looks but forthe youngest of kids, one example for each category is plenty!
  • Use kid friendly language.
  • Talk about each of the main goals and let them share examples for how this looks in each of their lives. Then ask them to draw a picture or words of what this looks like for them.  This will help them visualize their goals!
  • Put goals and incentive charts or jars in a room and location where you can see them.

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How did it go?  Overall, it went great!  As with anything we do with a group of kids with such different ages, I had to use my bag of tricks to keep them all on task (mostly my five-year old).  At first my son wanted to say things like: “Yeah, my goals are to fart and scribble all over this paper.” Um, yeah.  What a perfect time it was for me to model self-control and respect when really I just wanted to lose my marbles.  I used my calming strategies we’d just discussed. Ha! Eventually, he used his calming and self-control strategies too and realized this was important and he is part of the family team in making this meaningful.

Then what?  When the chart is full we will celebrate in a way we all decide!  When my son’s chart is full, we will do the same and he will start a new one and decide how/if he wants to change his goals. In the meantime, I can say without a doubt, we all feel motivated, empowered, and excited!

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In my next post I will go into more detail about goal setting for myself, my kids (and students) and as a family.  Some of the points I plan to expand on: 

  • Why set goals?
  • My earliest memories with goal setting/visualization and how it has impacted my life.
  • Why teach our kids to set and work towards goals? How this has helped my own kids as well as my students in the classroom.
  • Points I try to remember when writing and rewriting goals throughout the year.
  • How charts and incentive tools can be effective with kids (and adults).

Do you set goals for your life?  Do you set goals with your kids or use incentive tools a sticker chart?  Do you write them down and put them where you can see them?   

~Amanda

Note:  Using WordPress is entirely new for us as bloggers so bear with us as we figure this thing out! Our posts might not be as easy on the eyes as we hope for. Even adding pictures, changing text size and color, and choosing different fonts is a mystery for me right now!  I never claimed to be a technology queen.  It’s good for me to learn some new blog tricks.  

Why #Run1?

Last December I spent the last few days of the year taking a much needed break from running after finishing a big marathon.  My legs and my mind needed a rest but I couldn’t rest long.  The first of the year was calling.  There’s just something about running on January 1st… It’s a new beginning and no matter how great or bad the previous year was, it offers a chance to start fresh.  Ready or not I wanted to get my year started with a run.

I knew my first run back would be easy.  I just wanted to enjoy the moment and be thankful that I was able to run.  I decided to ask my oldest daughter if she wanted to run with me.  Abi joined me for a cold but beautiful run around the neighborhood.

January 1, 2014

January 1, 2014

A few weeks ago while I was reflecting on how my running has gone this year many things came to mind: a lot of racing, many lessons learned, my long bout with plantar fasciitis, and even a few new PR’s.  But it all started with one run on January 1st.  Thinking back to my first run of the year I shared with my daughter put a smile on my face and it seemed bigger than everything else.

#Run1 is a combination of two things: family & fitness.  We are encouraging everyone to spend time with their family and commit to running or walking one mile together on January 1st.  There is no fee for this virtual run.  You don’t need to register or raise money for anything.  Our main goal is to promote kids being active and healthy, and who better than to teach them this than their parents?

#Run1We would love for everyone who participates to tag a picture of you with your runners on social media with #Run1 or #RunwithMeKids.  We are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  The Run with Me Kids community will vote on a winning photo and the winner will receive a new pair of running shoes for their child!  The winner will be announced on 1/15/15.

Hope to see you out there on 1/1/15!  It’s going to be a great day to #Run1!

~Tia