It’s one thing to juggle your own runs and training into your personal schedule, and quite another thing to try to fit a kid’s training into the mix, especially when there are other sports or extracurricular activities to balance.

It’s not easy to juggle competing schedules, sports, or extracurricular activities.  Kids get busy and tired. Grownups get busy and tired.  One of the reasons running with kids is great is because it is a way to accomplish or make progress on both your goals and your child’s (or children’s) goals.  Though training with kids isn’t always the most economical way to train (in terms of time or effort) or the most effective (especially with young kids who aren’t ready to train in the same way mom or dad trains), it can be practical and super fun.

The Secret to Happy Running with Kids

When a kid (or mom or dad) has a lot going on, flexibility is key when it comes to running.  And I’m not talking downward facing dog flexibility.  I’m talking about being willing to back off daily or weekly goals or expectations, tweaking a training plan, cutting a run short, or opting to enjoy a ‘lazy’ day instead of lacing up running shoes.  Remaining flexible and being adaptable to what’s happening in your life and your kid’s life will keep running fun, enjoyable, and exciting.

Here’s a real life example of staying flexible in the approach to running with kids.  Today when I took my oldest two kids for a run, my thirteen year was pumped and ready to run.  My eleven year old was tired from a x-c running race that took place the day before.  He wasn’t really in the mood to run.  He really wanted to work on a coding project instead of run. The way he saw it, running was standing in the way from doing what he most wanted.

I wanted to get 5 miles in. I planned to get 5 miles in.

By the time the kids and I hit 1.5 miles, I knew that I had to change the plan. When you run with kids, sometimes what you want to do or plan to do, just isn’t going to happen.  My teenager started showing signs of being tired. This was her second workout for the day, and she had been doing double workouts for most of the week. When she’s not running, she’s swimming.  She’s a fish.  She started complaining that her body hurt. It was quickly apparent that everything hurt. Surely even her eyelashes.  Teens know how to work dramatics.

Around the same time, my son was actually hitting a nice little groove and he seemed full of energy. He was happy to keep running.  He was thrilled to tell me about his computer projects.

I, however, was starting to feel depleted rather than energized.  This was my first run after a week of being sick, and I started to think that this double workout (my second workout, too), combined with a marathon lawn mowing session may have been plenty for the day.

I made the decision to cut our run short.  We made our way back to the car.  Jumped in and went home and spent the afternoon doing a much needed nothing.

Being flexible about my expectations when running with my kids and my own goals kept the run fun, the mood light and happy, and the experience positive.

Go with the flow.  Run with the flow.  Stay flexible.

That’s the secret to running with kids and getting out the door together, again and again.

That’s what I call balance.