While the sport of running continues to grow and trail running explodes in popularity, you can probably come up with at least one good reason why you shouldn’t run.
You’re too tired. You’re sports bra is too tight. You have to fold laundry. Just the thought of running seems excruciating.
And if you have any thought of running with your child, there are sure to be people who will come up with at least one good reason why you shouldn’t run–including runs on trails–with a child in tow.
It’s too strenuous for kids. It’s too much for their growing bodies. Children aren’t meant to run distances.
But there are plenty of reasons why you should run, especially with your child on trails. Here are 9 of those reasons:
1. Running can forever change you and fuel life-long inspiration. Running can teach you much about life, your body, your strengths and weaknesses, goal-setting, prioritizing what’s important in life, self-confidence and awareness, how to overcome challenges, and how to cultivate inner strength and resilience. Running doesn’t just help people get through a run. Running helps people get through life itself.
2. Running teaches you how to set goals and accomplish them. You don’t have to race to discover the goal setting and accomplishment magic of running. Running teaches you how to push yourself, whether your goal is running to the next tree, running continuously up a hill without stopping, signing up for a running event, or finishing a 10K trail race. Running by nature fuels that inner drive to set and meet goals, both on and off the trail.
3. Running helps you learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yes, it’s true, running is sometimes hard, painful, boring, mentally tough, exhausting, and uncomfortable. It can be this way for adults. It can be this way for children. But somehow, like magic, experiencing these running discomforts and handling them makes dealing with real world, non-running discomforts and challenges easier. When kids trail run, they too quickly learn and adapt to being comfortable with being uncomfortable–they figure out (sometimes with grownup help and with the right gear) how to adapt to all sorts of weather conditions (rain, snow, heat, cold, etc.) and to all sorts of terrain (dirt, grassy, hilly, rocky, gravel, bumpy, uneven, etc.). Being adaptable on the trail sets kids up for being more adaptable in life.
4. Running pushes you out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to get comfortable in life. Getting too comfortable in our zone means that we often miss opportunities, fail to seize new possibilities, and neglect self-growth. Running pushes you out of your comfort zone. There’s a saying that Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone. It’s true. Running can help you get unstuck in life, find new direction–or answers, solutions, or ideas, and help you discover the best version of yourself. When kids run, they learn that they can push themselves out of their comfort zone and thrive. They learn about boundaries and get a sense of how far they should–or sometimes shouldn’t–push them. Getting out of the comfort zone and stretching comfort zone boundaries is empowering and offers fresh perspective.
5. Running is convenient and inexpensive. Running is an accessible sport. You can run most anywhere. What other sport can you begin just by stepping out your front door? Running can also be inexpensive–or as inexpensive as you wish to make it. A pair of running shoes and comfortable clothing are all you need. The convenience and cost make running with a child–or children–a breeze, plus they will love exploring different neighborhoods, trails, parks, paths, and places. When the route varies, running becomes more than an accessible activity. Running becomes a memorable adventure.
6. Running teaches you to be okay with being alone. Let’s face it, life is sometimes lonely. Running teaches you that it’s okay–and even healthy–to spend time alone. Even if you are running with others, running gives you space to clear out your head and just be…you and the trail. Running teaches kids to have a healthy respect for carving out time for themselves, an understanding of personal space, and allows them to discover the tranquility of mental space.
7. Running keeps you healthy. There are lots of health reasons why you should run, especially with your child. While moderation is key, exercising can help you lose or maintain weight, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol within safe limits, live longer, feel happier, sleep better, improve memory, and cope better with stress. Running is a way to keep grownups and kids healthy.
8. Running connects you with nature. Running gets you outside. Connecting with nature and green space is believed to have important mental and physical benefits, including improving calm and clarity. Kids creativity and learning increases when they connect with nature and are given freedom to explore. Trail running is the perfect way to give kids access to nature and freedom to soak it up.
9. Running is a lifelong gift. While we may slow down as we age, running doesn’t necessarily have an expiration date. It’s something that can be done throughout life. Running is a gift. It opens doors to new friendships, improved health, creates connection to the world and others around us, and teaches us about ourselves. Exposing kids to running and helping them discover a passion for trail running is a gift that lasts a lifetime.