What distance can my child run?

Here are some guidelines and resources for parents to help decide what distance your child can run safely.

Updated October 30th, 2020

With so many kids being home schooled due to COVID-19 many parents are wondering about Phys Ed and general fitness for their children.

Training for a 5K is a great way to get out of the house a few days a week and get some exercise.

People talk about “car time” as a good time to have conversations with your child.

If running with your child is anything like running with a friend, you are bound to have some interesting conversations that will bring you and your child closer together.

I put together these guidelines based on expert recommendations. 

You should consult with your pediatrician before beginning a training program or running a race with your child.

Many parents wonder what distance can my child run safely?

It’s an important question to ask before running a race or starting a training program with your child.

What distance can your child run safely?

The two main factors you should keep in mind are your child’s health and overall fitness level, and their age.

Your child’s health and fitness level

Pediatricians disagree on how much running is too much for children and little research has been done. Some question if rigorous training may  damage the growing areas of children’s bones. 

But with the increasing number of children leading sedentary lives, I think most pediatricians would recommend some exercise over no exercise.

When you are just starting out, over training is probably not an issue.

As a parent you know your child better than anyone else.

Before deciding to start a training program, consider your child’s health and level of physical activity.

Do they play sports or do they play video games? Are they being treated for any health conditions? How is their weight?

Almost any child can run, but you need to know where to start.

While some pediatricians may worry about damage from over training, you are just looking to get your kid outside and moving.

Even the most enthusiastic child will not start training like an Olympic athlete.

The first run may be fast and end quickly. But most children will walk and eventually settle into a pace that they can sustain.

At your child’s annual physical let the pediatrician know that your child is interested in running or starting a training program. 

This is a good way to start a conversation between your pediatrician and your child. Your pediatrician will be able to tell you and your child about their overall health and any concerns you should be aware of. 

Based on your child’s age and fitness level they may have some training or distance recommendations.  

Training suggestions and recommendations from the doctor are more likely to be listened to than if they came from you. 

If you do not have a pediatrician’s appointment coming up, you can do a basic assessment of your child’s fitness level.  

Does your child play sports or do they play video games? Are they generally active and full of energy? Any health conditions or obesity? 

Your Child’s Age

In addition to your child’s health, your child’s age is the other important factor to consider.

children running. kids races, what distance can my child runThe Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is the largest running organization in the US and provides educational materials for running clubs interested in hosting youth running programs.

 

These guidelines address appropriate race distances for children starting at Pre-K and give you some guidance on training and encouraging your child.

The RRCA guidelines recommend that children under 5 participate in kid’s fun runs. These are usually under 400 yards.

These “Fun Run” races are often free and part of other race day activities. This is a great way for your child to try running in a fun and encouraging environment.

A Fun Run allows your child to participate in a running event with you, but have a race of their own. 

RRCA Youth Running Guidelines

As your child gets older it is generally agreed that it is safe for them to run longer distances. Here are the RRCA’s guidelines:

  • Children 5 and under should focus on “dash” events that range from a few yards to 400 meters.
  • Children 5 and over, kids fun runs that are a ½ to 1 mile long may be considered, but allow for a combination of running and walking.
  • Children ages 12 and over may want to participate in a 5K run.
  • Children ages 15 and older may want to participate in a 10K to half marathon event.
  • Children 18 and older may want to participate in a marathon or further distance.

I believe that the RRCA’s Guidelines address the issue of young children putting too much stress on their bodies. Younger children should stick to shorter distances while teens can move to longer distances that require training.

Running should be fun. Children should not be pressured into running longer distances than they want to. As any parent knows, it’s not unusual for a child to change their mind in the middle of something.

As adults we know about challenging our limitations and pushing through to the next level. Children often do not have these motivations and just know that “this isn’t fun anymore.”

If your child wants to stop or walk while training or racing you have the difficult task of knowing when to let them have their way. 

For pre-teens, the emphasis should be on fun, participation and enjoying the event. The emphasis should not be on competition and attaining goals.

If a young child has a genuine enthusiasm for running, let it grow naturally. They will move up to longer distances as they mature and grow stronger.

As the parent your role should be to guide and encourage your young runner and help them make wise choices about running.

As a rule, young children should not be training to run a “fun run.”

Additional Guidelines

child running distances, What distance can my child runHere are the distances that the Hartford Marathon Foundation (HMF) uses for their youth events.

The HMF organizes dozens of races each year that include youth running events. They have a lot of experience in this area.

Most Fun Runs award a ribbon and sometimes provide a drink and a snack. They usually do not provide a medal or shirt as they are free events.

Some races allow you to register your child ahead of time for the Fun Run, but some only have “day of” registration. 

suggested distances for kids, youth runningThe Healthy Kids Running Series was created by Jeff Long, Founder and President of Pattison Sports Group, to provide kids with a positive, educational, and fun experience in the world of running.

They help parents set up youth running programs in their own towns and provide these youth running distance recommendations.

The program emphasizes fun and encourages weekly organized runs for children. You can find out if there is a program in your town at their website. You can also find out how to set up a program in your town.

Angela Bekkala wrote an article for Active.com: How to Get Kids Ready for Their First 5K It’s a quick read and offers additional advice.

Your child wants to run a 5K with you. What should you do? 

  • Do not put any pressure on them to achieve a certain goal
  • Forget about your own time. You need to run their pace
  • Be prepared to walk and always be positive and encouraging
  • You are mom or dad, not their coach, so always be supportive

If your child has a positive experience with you at their first 5K, you may have a new running buddy. What could be better than that?

Make sure to emphasize the fun race environment. Make them feel like one of the other runners by introducing them to your friends and including them in conversations. Everyone loves a new runner, and your child will thrive on the positive energy at a race.

Some 5K races are adult events with loud music and drinking. If you run one of these 5Ks with your child it may be a good idea to only stay for a while after the race.

Competitive Running for your Child

Around the age of 12, the RRCA says children may participate in 5K races. Moving from fun runs to a 5K race should be your child’s decision. The emphasis should still be on fun and participation.

When a child starts running 5K races on a regular basis, they may become competition. A child may compete with themselves, friends or you.

Competition is good and running competitively teaches many life lessons. As the parent it is up to you to guide expectations and be supportive.

It is important for children to understand that few of us ever come in first place. Most of us have friends who finish ahead of us. As adults we understand this and our self worth and image are not dependent on how we do at a race.

For a pre-teen or teenager, winning and loosing can become the focus of running. As a parent, it is your role to focus more on the fun and participation in the event and running community, and focus less on competition.

As your child runs more races and improves their running, competition can become more important.

Setting goals and training to achieve them are important life lessons. If a child sticks with running and maintains a healthy enthusiasm for the sport, your guidance can help them set healthy goals and expectations of themselves.

When your child moves from the 1-mile fun run to the 5K, let them guide you. You can see when they may be pushing too hard and you can see when they should push for the next goal. As the more experienced runner, you can guide them.

Moving to longer distances

As always, the age and the health of your child are your main considerations. Around age 15 it should be okay for your child to run a 10K or half-marathon.

Many marathons will not allow anyone under age 18 to run. Some will allow teens to run with a parent’s permission.

If your child has run a few 5Ks and enjoyed themselves, then it should be okay to try a 10K. While a child may not need to train for a fun run or a 5K, they should do training for a 10K and definitely for a half-marathon.

In your child’s mid-teens, running 5Ks and 10Ks should be sufficient. In the later teens an occasional half-marathon and perhaps a marathon should be okay.

As your child moves up to longer distances, you child should train with you or a coach at school. Fitness and conditioning become more important at longer distances in order to avoid injury and to run successfully.

If your child does not get an annual athletic physical as a requirement to participate in school sports, make sure you are making those appointments.

I hope this information is helpful. I want to emphasis again that this information should be used as a guide only.

If your child has a medical condition, please consult with your pediatrician first. If your child has no known conditions, at their next check up mention to their pediatrician that your child is interested in running.

races with medals, 5k medals, my first 5k medalIf your child is running their first 5K race and you would like to get them a medal to remember the race, check out the My First 5K medal. Most 5K races do not give finisher’s medals. Usually only the top male and female finisher and top age group finishers.

Run well my friends and happy running with your child!

Andy

Mothers Day 5K Races 2019 in Massachusetts

A Few Mothers Day 5K Races in MA

Mothers Day 5K races are a great time to get together as a family and run a 5K. Many races allow and even encourage runners with strollers. You don’t see that all the time, but these races are for moms!

There are large races and there are small races, but not very many Mother’s Day 5K races. Here are a few Mothers Day 5K races in Massachusetts.

Mother’s Day is Sunday May 12th this year.

Cause and Event Boston

Arlington High School

Mother's Day RacesKid’s Fun Run starts at 7:30 AM and the 5K Road Race begins at 8 AM.

Cause + Event Boston is a unique 5K race that connects the philanthropic giving of participating athletes to the causes they believe in.

Each runner chooses their favorite charity and Cause + Event Boston donates at least half of all registration fees to these organizations. Chosen charities must be verified 501(c)3 organizations.

Registration is sold out!

 

Pine Hill Little League Mothers Day 5k Fun Run Walk

Supporting Pine Hill Little League in Lynn, MA this  9:00 AM race takes place at Rollys Tavern On The Square, 338 Broadway in Lynn.

Registration for this race is now closed.

A friend of mine who is now in his 50’s used to play for this Little League Team, and I was the men’s winner a few years ago. First time eva! Race recap HERE.

Ring Around the Neck 5K

Devereux Beach, Marblehead – 9:00 AM

Don’t miss the the 39th running of the Ring Around the Neck 5K road race. Fun for the whole family starts at Devereux Beach!

Ring Around the Neck’s 5K race course takes you around Marblehead’s breathtaking Marblehead Neck! See both harbor and ocean views on this challenging race course. The course is stroller and dog friendly.

This race will benefit the Lynch van Otterloo YMCA Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program.

Registration is open until May 9th and is $30 for adults, $15 for children and $10 for Veterans.

Women’s Fund Tiara 5K

The Tiara 5K starts at 9:30 AM and the Kid’s Fun Run takes place at 9:00 AM.  The race takes place at the Oxford Creamery in Mattapoisett, MA.

T-shirts for the first 300 runners to register and you can join or create a team. Click to Register.

mothers day 5k racesThe Women’s Fund of Southeastern MA raises funds and takes collaborative action so that all women in the region have strong opportunities to earn a living wage. The mission of the Women’s Fund is to advance the educational attainment and economic security of women and girls in Southeastern Massachusetts. Funds raised support the communities of Southeastern Massachusetts, primarily in the greater New Bedford area.

Parking can be a challenge and the race organizers encourage carpooling.

“M.O.M.’s RUN” – Mary O’Brien Memorial 5K Run & Walk for Cancer

At 10AM at Baxter Riverfront Park Amphitheater, Somerville.

5K registration is $35 and $40 day of.

Kid’s, 0.1 miles, Fun Run is at 9:30 and registration (9 and under) is $5.00.

Registration is open.

Parking is available at the Assembly Row parking garage free for the first three hours.

Harpoon and Red Bone’s supply the post race festivities. I hear they have an amazing raffle also.

A Mother’s Hope 5K

9:00 AM at Nelson Park in Plymouth, MA

mothers day 5K racesRegistration is $25 for Adults, $30 on race day,
$20 for students 11-18 and $25 on race day.
Children under 10, $15.00 and $20.00 on race day.

Proceeds benefit Brook Retreat and The Family Restored.

This is a smaller race with around 125 runners, so it may be a good one for a fist time runner.

T-shirts to all who register by May 1st. Bib pickup begins at 8:00 AM on race day at Nelson Park.

This is a USA Track & Field New England Sanctioned race – Sanction #18-02-063

Scituate Fire Fighters 5K

The Mother’s Day 5K run through scenic Minot Beach area begins at 10:00 AM. Kid’s 1K at 9:15 and 5K walk begins at 8:30.

Registration is open and is $20 for all. T-shirt to the first 250 pre-registered.

The 42nd Annual Women’s Running Race

Held at Berkshire Community College, West Street, Pittsfield, MA.

This event, which is billed as the second oldest all- women’s race in the country, is actually two races. The event begins with an all-women’s race followed by an “everybody else” race.

This year the Race is free, but registrants can purchase event T shirts for $20. Buy before May 1st to ensure shirt size. Race day T shirt price is $25. Each shirt purchase is accompanied by a raffle ticket for great prizes. Additional tickets are $5.

Register here.

Women’s 5K starts at 8:00 AM, Community Run at 9:30 and Kid’s Fun Run at 10:30.

Medals for Mom?

If Mom or the kids are running their First 5K on Mother’s day, make sure they get a medal. The My First 5K medal is exclusively for first time 5K runners. It isn’t for 2nd or 10th time 5K runners.

Christmas gift, holiday run, family 5KIf someone you know is running their first 5k road race, get them something to remember their big moment.

If you would like a My First 5K medal, you can order here.

Run well my friends, and Happy Mother’s Day!

Andy

Mothers Day 5K Races 2018 in Massachusetts

A Few Mothers Day 5K Races in MA

Mothers Day 5K races are a great time to get together as a family and run a 5K. Many races allow and even encourage runners with strollers. You don’t see that all the time, but these races are for moms!

There are large races and there are small races, but not very many Mother’s Day 5K races. Here are a few Mothers Day 5K races in Massachusetts.

Mother’s Day is Sunday May 13th this year.

Cause and Event Boston

Arlington High School

Mother's Day RacesKid’s Fun Run starts at 7:30 AM and the 5K Road Race begins at 8 AM.

Cause + Event Boston is a unique 5K race that connects the philanthropic giving of participating athletes to the causes they believe in. Each runner choose their favorite charity and Cause + Event Boston donates at least half of all registration fees to these organizations. Chosen charities must be verified 501(c)3 organizations.

Registration for the 5K is $30 and the Kids Fun Run is FREE.

Check their web site for additional details.

Pine Hill Little League Mothers Day 5k Fun Run Walk

Supporting Pine Hill Little League in Lynn, MA this  9″00 AM race takes place at Rollys Tavern On The Square, 338 Broadway in Lynn.

Registration for this race is now closed.

A friend of mine who is now in his 50’s used to play for this Little League Team, and I was the men’s winner a few years ago. First time eva! Race recap HERE.

Nancy’s Mother’s Day 5K

Chelmsford Elks Lodge 300 Littleton Road (Route 110)

Kid’s Fun Run begins at 9:30 AM, 5K Road Race begins at 10 AM.

Registration is $30 and $35 day of. Kids 16 and under register for $20.00.

The purpose of our Mother’s Day Run is to raise money to help fund education programs for local kids about the dangers of opioids and other substances.

This race was not held in 2019. I’ll keep checking for 2020.

Women’s Fund Tiara 5K

The Tiara 5K starts at 9:30 AM and the Kid’s Fun Run takes place at 9:00 AM.  The race takes place at the Oxford Creamery in Mattapoisett, MA.

T-shirts for the first 300 runners to register and you can join or create a team. Click to Register.

mothers day 5k racesThe Women’s Fund of Southeastern MA raises funds and takes collaborative action so that all women in the region have strong opportunities to earn a living wage. The mission of the Women’s Fund is to advance the educational attainment and economic security of women and girls in Southeastern Massachusetts. Funds raised support the communities of Southeastern Massachusetts, primarily in the greater New Bedford area.

Parking can be a challenge and the race organizers encourage carpooling.

“M.O.M.’s RUN” – Mary O’Brien Memorial 5K Run & Walk for Cancer

At 10AM Davis Square, George Dilboy VFW Post 259, 371 Summer Street, Somerville MA

5K registration is $35 and $40 day of.

Kid’s, 0.1 miles, Fun Run is at 9:30 and registration (9 and under) is $5.00.

Parking is always a challenge in Davis Square, so carpool or take The T. Also, they will not have an official bag drop, so plan accordingly.

Harpoon and Red Bone’s supply the post race festivities. I hear they have an amazing raffle also.

Strivers Mothers Day 5K

mothers day 5k races8:30 AM at Natick High School.

Registration is $30, $20 for 13 years and under. After May 8th fees are $35 and $20, respectively.

Hosted by STRIVERS Running Club for Girls for their 5th year.

Start your Mother’s Day off this year with the “gift” of an early morning run with great company!

Moms, daughters, sisters, and girlfriends use this race day as a way to restore, refill, and replenish who you are and all that you do for others. Dads, sons, brothers, uncles, boyfriends, come and support those women important in your life while also celebrating your health and well being.

Welcome spring and stay for a light breakfast and experience the camaraderie of the race environment and your community!

Proceeds benefit Natick’s Embrace A FamilyEmbrace A Family was founded by the family and friends of two Natick moms who passed away from cancer in 2005.

A Mother’s Hope 5K

9:00 AM at Nelson Park in Plymouth, MA

mothers day 5K racesRegistration is $25 for Adults, $30 on race day,
$20 for students 11-18 and $25 on race day.
Children under 10, $15.00 and $20.00 on race day.

Proceeds benefit Brook Retreat and The Family Restored.

This is a smaller race with around 125 runners, so it may be a good one for a fist time runner.

T-shirts to all who register by May 1st. Bib pickup begins at 8:00 AM on race day at Nelson Park.

This is a USA Track & Field New England Sanctioned race – Sanction #18-02-063

Medals for Mom?

If Mom or the kids are running their First 5K on Mother’s day, make sure they get a medal. The My First 5K medal is exclusively for first time 5K runners. It isn’t for 2nd or 10th time 5K runners.

If someone you know is running their first 5k road race, get them something to remember their big moment.

If you would like a My First 5K medal, you can order here.

Run well my friends, and Happy Mother’s Day!

Andy

Hallmark Health Stride for Healthy Communities

The Hallmark Health Stride for Healthy Communities 5K takes place on Saturday, September 30th.

Hallmark Health Stride for Healthy Communities

Hallmark Health Stride for Healthy CommunitiesThis Saturday morning race starts at 9 AM. Registration and bib pick up begins at 8 AM.

With  hospitals in Melrose and Medford and out-patient services provided in Reading and Stoneham, Hallmark Health truly serves our Communities.

Proceeds from the Stride for Healthy Communities benefit Hallmark Health family health services such as CPR training for high school students, diabetes education and other initiatives to keep our communities healthy.

This flat course around Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield is very popular because it offers plenty of free parking and a nice flat course.

My First 5K medal, runners medal, hallmark health stride for healthy communitiesThis child friendly race offers registration for children 12 and under for only $15. Registration includes a “My First 5K” medal for all children under 12.

If you are thinking about running an early fall 5K with your child, this would be a great one. The course is flat and every child 12 and under receives a high quality medal to commemorate their first 5K race.

Teen and adult registration is $25 pre-registered and $30 day of.

If your child is 13 or older, or your running partner is older, My First 5K medals will be available for purchase at the race for $10.00. All proceeds benefit Hallmark Health family health services.

Hallmark Health Stride for Healthy Communities Festivities

After the race there will be music, giveaways and fun for the whole family. Be sure to stick around for the awards ceremony and enjoy a beautiful September morning along the lake.

The Melrose Running Club will also be at the race. Be sure to stop by their tent to learn about the club and their Walk to Run program. The Melrose Running Club Walk to Run program has been helping new runners for over 10 years.

The Melrose Running Club is a community partner with Hallmark Health to bring you and your family a fantastic running experience.

Mothers Day 5K Races 2017 in Massachusetts

Looking for Mothers Day 5K Races?

Here are a few Boston area Mothers Day 5K races.

Women’s Fund Tiara 5K

This 9:30 AM Mother’s Day race takes place at the Oxford Creamery in Mattapoisett, MA. Kid’s Fun Run takes place at 9AM.

T-shirts for the first 300 runners to register and you can join or create a team. Click to Register.

mothers day 5k racesThe Women’s Fund of Southeastern MA raises funds and takes collaborative action so that all women in the region have strong opportunities to earn a living wage. The mission of the Women’s Fund is to advance the educational attainment and economic security of women and girls in Southeastern Massachusetts. Funds raised support the communities of Southeastern Massachusetts, primarily in the greater New Bedford area.

At 10AM in Somerville help cure cancer at the  “M.O.M.’s RUN” – Mary O’Brien Memorial 5K Run & Walk for Cancer. 5K registration is $35, Kid’s Fun Run is $5.00. Start and finish is it George Dilboy VFW Post 259, 371 Summer St, Somerville.

In the past 15 years, M.O.M.’s Run has raised over $180,000 benefiting the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Harpoon and Red Bone’s supply the post race festivities. I hear they have an amazing raffle also.

mothers day 5k racesIn Natick at 8:30 join the Strivers Running Club for their Strivers Mothers Day 5K at Natick High School.

Registration is $30, $20 for 13 years and under. After May 8th fees are $35 and $20, respectively.

Proceeds benefit Natick’s Embrace A FamilyEmbrace A Family was founded by the family and friends of two Natick moms who passed away from cancer in 2005.

A Mothers Hope 5K

9:00 AM at Nelson Park in Plymouth, MA

mothers day 5K racesRegistration is $25 for Adults, $30 on race day, $20 for students 11-18 and $25 on race day. Children under 10, $15.00 and $20.00 on race day.

Proceeds benefit Brook Retreat and The Family Restored.

T-shirts to all who register by May 2nd. Bib pickup begins at 8:00 AM on race day at Nelson Park.

Medals for Mom?

These races all provide medals if Mom or her kids are 1st, 2nd or 3rd overall. Some provide age group awards also.

If Mom or the kids are running their First 5K and don’t think they will place in the top 3, you can still get a medal. The My First 5K medal is exclusively for first time 5K runners. It’s more than an award for finishing a race, it’s an incentive to sign up for the next one!

If you would like a My First 5K medal, you can order here.

Run well my friends, and Happy Mother’s Day!

Andy

Melrose Run for Women 2017

20th Annual Melrose Run for Women

The Melrose Run for Women takes place May 14th at Pine Banks Park in Melrose. This Mother’s Day tradition is a Melrose Running Club production.

Mother's Day Race, mothers day,melrose run for women

A Special Way to celebrate Mothers Day

The Melrose Running Club invites you to participate in the 20th running of the Melrose Run For Women on Sunday, May 14th, 2017. Race start time is 9AM.

This family event honoring mothers and children has become a Melrose Mothers Day tradition over the past twenty years. Race capacity is 1000 runners and is exclusively for women and girls.

 

The festivities kick off with a series of children’s races followed by the main event: a 3.5 mile run/walk which winds through the scenic and peaceful Swains Pond section of the city. The race finishes up with children handing out flowers, a bounty of baked goods and coffee, music, and awards.

mothers day race, mother's day, melrose run for women

Awards are given to the top finishers, the first mother and grandmother to finish, and best mother/daughter team finishers. Awards are also given to top age group finishers.

 

Proceeds benefit the Melrose Alliance Against Violence. MAAV is a domestic violence prevention and education organization in Melrose. Since the races inception in 1998 the Melrose Running Club has donated over $170,000 to MAAV.

 

This race is truly a celebration of women of all ages and abilities, you won’t want to miss it. Be sure to invite your mother, your sisters, your daughters, and your friends!


On-line registration
is $25.00 and available through Wednesday, May 10th. Mail in registrations are due by May 1st.


You can also register in person for $30.00 at Marathon Sports at 401 Main Street Melrose:

 

May 11, 2017 5PM – 8PM 
May 12, 2017 12PM – 7PM 
May 13, 2017 10AM – 5PM 
May 14, 2017 7AM – 8AM : Pine Banks Park, Main St & Sylvan St, Melrose, MA

 

Cash or checks accepted only.

 

Kids races are free and will be held at the Pine Banks Park track.

Don’t miss this wonderful mothers Day tradition!

Run well my friends!

Andy