How do I motivate a teenager?

Last weekend I ran a 10k with my 16 year old son, the motivation behind it was to encourage him to start running on a regular basis as I have thought for a long time that he could be a fairly good middle distance runner. As it turned out he did no training whatsoever and still managed a time of 39 minutes. This seems like a good time to me given his age and lack of training. So I am now looking for ideas as to how motivate him to continue with his running.



  • 39 minutes for a 10k at 16 is pretty damm good even with lack of training.

    He`s at a age when many things are happening. Studying, friends, having a life.
    I`m guessing he has done running through school and achieve good results.
    I think he has the potential to improve if he continues. But motivation is a hard task.
    I`m not sure if your son was motivated out of the 10k too.
    So I would suggest maybe do another race to maybe get the competitive side in
    him. Maybe join a running club who can help him improve his running too.

    I think he`s got the ability to improve. But 16 is a difficult age and with the world
    infront of him.

  • I'd say you'd have no chance of motivating him.  Although 39 minutes for 10k is outstanding for someone that did no training, he's going to have to put in an awful lot of time to get that time down.  You could tell him that to improve he would have to join an athletics club, one of the benefits of which is that there's lots of fit girls who run in their underwear?!  Just a thought....  Good luck with it!
  • If he wants to continue, he will, any attempt to force him to do so is likely to have a negative affect.

    As for his time, 39mins is outstanding.

  • Thanks for your replies. We have a good local athletics club which i mentioned to him but i think i've been selling it all wrong - fit girls in their underwear - why didn't i think of that!
  • How fast do you run, if you are just a tiny bit quicker you could challenge him to beat you with a 'reward' when he achieves it - bribery always works with kids image.  Colonel Bimp is also on the right track too, you could encourage him to join a club with a good teenage section by selling it as a great place to meet 'fit' girls - infact if he does join one I wouldn't mind betting a few of his mates join shortly afterwards!

  • yes.........I agree that if he wanted to run the race itself would have inspird him to be asking for info.........just got to leave it to him .the good thing about running you can come to it from any age.......

    at our local free 5k park run there is one 14 year old who is up with the leaders running 16 minutes.........I notice that he is still not in a club.........obviously still running for the joy of it without going down the high pressure coaching route............

  • challenging him to beat me won't work - I'm a plodder in my mid forties - anything under an hour for a 10k is good for me!

    he is interested in running more races just not doing the training - i think he liked the crowds cheering him on...............

  • Can I say there are alot of youngsters out there who really have good potential to become
    good runners, even elite runners. Alot of them slip through the net because this country
    doesn`t have a system of schools working with sporting clubs such as running, swimming,etc.

    I don`t know if running clubs could work with schools not just for potential, but for fitness too.
    Maybe if a running club could hold a weekly session at a school and if children are interested
    in being part of the club, then that`s a bonus.

    I know when I was at school, the local judo club visited every fortnight providing a judo lesson
    during PE. A qualified black belt instructor demonstrated techniques and loads went along
    to the sessions. Quite a few including myself join the local club who had sessions on a Saturday for youngsters and adults.

    This can be a good way of encouraging children to stay fit, be part of a team and develop key skills which will help them in later life.

    Any thoughts on this one.
  • wiz1 wrote (see)

    challenging him to beat me won't work - I'm a plodder in my mid forties - anything under an hour for a 10k is good for me!

    he is interested in running more races just not doing the training - i think he liked the crowds cheering him on...............

    If he likes having crowds cheering him on. Then I would suggest do more races but preferably
    5 miles - 10k.

    When I was his age, I was a good middle distance runner at school. I thought when I leave school is there anyway of staying in running. So I entered a 1 mile race and suddenly hooked onto road racing.
    Then it was 2 miles, 5 miles and 10ks. I find the thrill of running as a challenge and a competition.
    There is the winning trophies side which I got a few and that motivates me in being a better runner.
  • If he's comming up 17, challenge him to get down to, say 30 minutes over 10 k (Obviously set a time as appropriate) and you'll pay for driving lessons. If he doesn't get there, he has for fork out for half/all of them?

    Bribery works with most age groups, it's just the nature of the bribe that changes

  • SlugstaSlugsta ✭✭✭

    OK, I'm going to put my head above the parapet with an alternative view -

    If your son is like most 16yo boys, I expect that you are already on his back about things like homework, schoolwork and the state of his room. Please don't add running to the list!! Why don't you pick your battles, concentrate on the 'important' things and allow him to enjoy his running?

    On the other hand, if he is a total angel, who has a perfect bedroom and is getting straight 'a's at school free free to make his life a misery imageimage

  • I'm with Slugsta.

    What's your motivation?  To see him run faster?  Why?

    If he wanted to train, he would.  If he wanted to join a club, he could.

    I think trying to make him, either by pursuasion or bribery, is pointless.

  • my motivation is to keep him invloved in sport, to build his self esteem and to limit available time for playstation & facebook!

  • It was a VERY long time ago now, but I well remember how I resented my mother's attempts to get me interested in things that would be "good for me".

    Anything she tried to get me into immediately became the thing I was LEAST likely to do.

    I emphathise with teenagers (even though I'm nearly 48).  Either people are trying to make you do things you don't want to do, or they're stopping you from doing things you DO want to do image (and there was no Playstation or Facebook back then!)

  • Tell him he's not allowed to do running.

    (x-post with Wilkie)
  • WombleWomble ✭✭✭
    And fast running is especially bad for you.
  • Mikefrog wrote (see)
    Tell him he's not allowed to do running. (x-post with Wilkie)
    you know i think that might work.........................
  • I think adults sometimes forget how much they would not like it if someone treated them as if they were a teenager image
  • What`s wrong with encouragement and motivation. If a 16 year old has something which they good at, why just encourage them to go with it. If the boy had the singing voice of Robbie Williams, you wouldn`t say oh don`t bother. You would say yes your singing is great and you should apply for X Factor.

    Teenagers need encouragement and motivation which is whats lacking in them.
  • Actually, no - I wouldn't, runnerman.

    If he WANTED to apply to X Factor then that would be fine and I would support him, but I wouldn't try to pursuade him to if he wasn't interested.

    There's nothing wrong with encouraging people to do things they WANT to do.  If they don't want to do them, and you keep on about it, then it's just nagging!

    I can hear it now, thirty years down the line......  "You want to do xxxx...". 

    No, Mum, I don't want to.  If I wanted to, I would.

  • runnerman.................they need encouragement but they need to find their own motivation...............they can find enough motivation for playstation and face book then they do not lack motivation its just not in the direction that you want it................

    therefore encourageimage

  • This seems amazingly simple to me.

     Don't go on about it to him, don't "gently encourage him" (with parents theres no such thing, kids see straight through it!), just mention to him, ONCE:

    You did really well on that run we went on! If you want to continue running it could help your fitness and speed for football (I sexistly assume he likes/plays football like every other teenage boy I know), it'll help you get a great body AND you might meet some hot girls if you join a running club".

    Then LEAVE IT. Covers the most important things to boys

    1) Being better than other boys at something

    2) Being sexy

    3) Hot girls/hot boys (whichever way he's inclined). 

    If he still isn't interested, he isn't interested. Accept it! 

  • SlugstaSlugsta ✭✭✭
    Sounds like a good tactic, nom! If he enjoys entering races, encourage him to do so but please don't spoil his running byt turning it into something else he 'has' to do.
  • I agree with wilkie. If parents try and make their children do something or obviously really want them to do it, it puts the children off. When I was in my teens I was made to have music lessons and I just ended up hating it, not having a choice whether I went or not. If you challenge him to beat a certain time or bribe him or whatever I just don't think it'll work. You'd be better off saying to him that he has a real natural talent for running and would he like to take it any further?
  • I don`t think its about forcing children to do something. But if a kid is good at something, then a little bit of motivation and encouragement is helpful.

    You want your child to do well at school, get qualifications and would nag if he/she doesn`t do well.
    If you found out your child is smoking, you will nag him/her to stop.
    I would assume parents want the best out of their kids and their future.
    Its good for children to have something that with encouragement they can stick with.
    There`s no harm with nagging if you only thinking of their best interests.
  • SlugstaSlugsta ✭✭✭
    rm, I agree that parents tend to nag about schoolwork etc - but that's partly my point. Life with teenagers can be enough of a battlefield just trying to make sure that the important things are covered never mind starting in about something they're supposed to be doing for pleasure.
  • Teenagers can be a battlefield. Its a age where they heading towards adulthood and think they know better than you. They start using their month which was normally used for eating.

    But as a parent, you want to get the best out of them. Education is important. But if a teenager is
    good at a sport or anything else. Why just let them get on with it for which they might give up.
    You don`t need to tell a teenager they got to do it. But you can always encourage, motivate and inspire them to continue something which the good at. If teenagers don`t get the motivation and inspiration, they would become nobodies.

  • whole new can of worms.............

     i spoke to one of our lcoal athletic clubs about a trial training session and they have advised me that 10K is too far given his age - anyone have any views on this

  • I think athletic clubs operate differently to running clubs.
    Rule states that a 16 year old can run a 10k race.
    But some athletic clubs will only go upto 3 to 5k for this age.
    I`m not sure whether the athletic club are doing the training session on
    the track, so there maybe some difference.
  • athletic clubs are very different to the running clubs. an athletics club would probably need then to start short and build up getting used to the track.they also like the kids to do a mixture of events like discus , long jump even if they are not interested.........

    A running club ignores al the field events and short distances and only does runnning............

    The distance depends on how much he has been running in the past......does he take part in school cross country.........if he hasn't done any running then if he does lots of 10 k races and long training runs he risk the same as all of us of doing too much too fast too soon...........

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