5k for a 9 year old?

Ive been asked to run with a 9 year old boy for a Park run. He is quite fit, has "runners legs", does trail runs of about 4k quite easily with his school.

Whats an average 5k time I should aim for? I have no idea of what pace a 9 year old should run. I don't want to overdo it, but want to make it so it isnt fun for him. I have it in my head to look out for fatigue in him when we are doing it, but als want it to be fun and an achievable time.


  • Just be led by him WV, speak to him first about not going off too quick - 9 year old's are an impetuous bunch, especially the ones who can run - keep him off the pavement/concrete and don't be upset if he beats you LOL image Have a great time!
  • Yes, quite looking forward to it. I have seen the youngsters speed by in the parkruns, only to be caught up. But then. alas, they seem to get a second wind when they see the finish line, and then you dont see them for dust! 
  • STAMPEDE...... LOL image
  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    I used to do some training runs with a 10year old and teaching him how to pace himself. He used to start off like a bat out of hell and then slow down around the route.

    We built it up slowly and he managed 10 miles by the end of it.

  • At what age can you start running with a child?  And what things can you do?

     My boy turns 5 in a few weeks and he loves watching me run in the cross country races and wants to do running, but I'm not sure what he can and can't do.

  • water vole.just run at his pace.....at that age they need an adult with them for safety.....but just keep his pace and then let them walk to gethis breathe back as he will definitely go off too fast....as you say enjoyment is the main thing..they have to push themselves without adults pushing them on at that age
  • @ Leighton - just let him run if he wants to. Kids are not like us they will run then when they're tired they stop then they're off again at 90 mph! The only thing I would say at age under 7 (I've got two running kids now grown up aged 25 and 20 and they still run) is keep them on grass/sand/trail and it's not a training session. It's chasing after a ball/frisbee, its running down the beach playing "tig" (do they still play that? LOL image) At aged 7 mine both joined the local AC and never looked back. Take your boy to the park and "race" him to "that tree" - it's great when your kids want to be like you!
  • Thank you Tigerlily, I will take him out over this weekend and see how we get on.
  • Awwwww!!! I want a 5 year old to run with again... image Have fun! Both my kids ended up much more talented runners than me - be aware you may well hatch a monster1 image
  • My 9 year old is obsessed with his parkrun times!  His best is 24.22.  He was getting a bit too close to me so I have had to put a bit more effort in lately!

  • Just wait until the first time he beats you!! My daughter was 13 the first time she beat me and my son 11. A mixture of pride and sulking image
  • It must have been the Walk of Shame back home for you Tiger, but with a chest held high at your childrens' achievements!

    Thanks for this, guys. Its given me a real idea of what I should be doing. As a childless Runner, I had got it into my head that we should be aiming for a particular time, rather than letting him guide me. Some of this came from the fact that my niece who had told me quite confidently that she could run a kilometre in 4.30 minutes (ie faster than I ever could manage!!!!) gave up he Parkrun after a mile!!

    Thank you. x

  • We did it in approx 30.13 yesterday. I say approx... I was late (ggrrrr), so, as it was a circle, ran from the end in reverse to halfway, seeing all the quicker and then slower runners, and then turned back at 2.55 (on my GPS) so we were able to finish at the finish line. We did even splits too. I think it actually worked better that way, since we had never run together before, and he doesnt know me really well. He had also never run against adults, so all in all it worked well.

    We are thinking of doing it next week, this time properly, with me getting there on time!!! It will, I think be a tad slower as the proper first half has a hill in it.

    Next question, please........ how OFTEN can a near 8 year old boy run this distance? (I got his age wrong) I dont want to "over train" him nor make it a drudgery.

  • He is 7?
  • To be honest WV 5k is a bit far for a 7 year old...I wouldn't do it too often. At aged 7 my girl was competing in the local schools league over about 800 - 1600 m. There is quite a difference between 7 and 9. However, I've found this website you may find helpful (sorry linky thing isn't working) - www.kidsrunning.com - it is American but there is a distance chart on there and advice.
  • My son told me yesterday he wants to go to parkrun but he's also only 7 and I wasn't sure if I should build him up to it first.
  • Yes, Tiger, image, how can a 7 year old do that? Actually he is nearly 8, but still he is v good. I can see he will be an exceptional runner, he has the right legs for it. Thanks for the website, I will get onto it right away, and also pass it on to the boys Dad.

    Sibyrne. He does 4k runs/ interval and walk runs regularly with his school, eacxh week, in the Chilterns. I was quite confidant he would do well, when we entered. So, for me, I would see what what your son can do now, and then compare that with the Parkrun times that you can get from the net. 

     Last year, I did the Thornborough 5 mile fun run, in which children were allowed to run. Most of them went off like a steam train, either to slow right down or drop out, but some were very very good, and one tiny thing overtook me at mile 3!

  • We've had kids as young as 6 doing our parkrun, and there are plenty under 10 who do it on a regular basis. I think the key thing is to let them go at their own speed, run/walk as required and don't push them too hard - it needs to be fun. As has been said, they do tend to set off way too fast, but if you make sure you start at the back of the field that should slow them down. Please don't let them start at the front unless you're confident they can keep their start pace going for at least the first kilometer or so  - we've had injuries caused by kids starting fast then slowing right down causing adult runners to trip trying to avoid them. They do learn pretty quickly how to pace themselves however. There is a rule that all runners under 11 must be accompanied round the course, both for their safety and the safety of other runners as kids can be fairly random when it comes to direction, but as the last 500m of our course is straight they quite often sprint in ahead of their parents without problems.
  • Thanks BOTF. I sensed it was a case of reining them in for myself, without making it a drudge for him. It was difficult on my part judging what speed to start off at, as I hadnt run with him before, so I did start cautiously. Hence also my comment earlier that I would recomend getting an idea of what they were capable of before the Parkrun itself.

    Im glad you posted, BOTF, your words have helped a great deal. Im going to let him do a proper sprint finish if hes up for it next time!

  • I read this thread with interest - my son is 9 and plays football and swims, but hasn't done much running except for a couple of kids' fun runs.

    At our local parkrun you can do one lap of 2.5k and get your time given to you verbally - I don't know if this is unique or commonplace at 2-lap parkruns. Anyway, on New Years Eve he decided to run one lap with me while his dad ran the two, and then we swapped round on New Year's Day. On Sat he did it with me again. We're now going to add 5 minutes a week to his running - he's up to 20 minutes now and when he can do 30 minutes we'll let him do the two laps.

    I am totally in favour of kids running as long as it's fun for them and they don't get pressurised. And it's quite humbling to watch these little tots beating you by some way!
  • Yes, Im with you on that, HW, to see them do so well. When I was a child if you were no good at running, there was no encouragement to try to improve.

    Today, the Parkruns offer so much. And to do part laps as you have done is a very good idea.

  • My daughter (aged 8) and I will be doing parkrun on saturday. It's a first time for both of us.she is very active but hasn't done much running with me. Out parkrun is a couple of laps of a park so I was thinking of letting her start with me, then wait with her dad when she's getting a bit tired. Hopefully, if we build it up, she will soon manage the whole 5k.
    Does this sound wise?
  • I think most healthy active kids can probably get round 5k if the pace is right, but as has been said, the majority of kids tend to be all or nothing when the gun goes when they first start running properly. If you can reign her back for the first few minutes then she'll probably get round fine. Don't be afraid to run/walk if needed, but getting them to the finish line I think is important as it gives them that sense of achievement and they get to receive a finish disk and get scanned in, and then see their name in the results. That makes them feel like they've won something and also that they're part of something, and that makes them more likely to want to do it again.
  • Puts a lot of things into perspective. My first run with my son was when he' was about 5.5 years and he had no problem running a mile (quite tough 1/4 uphill).

    A few weeks later I decided to put him through his paces (He is a very hyperactive child) and ran an easy 5k (gentle down hill followed by a 1.5km flat) taking us 31mins.

    Unfortunately due to my lack of commitment I had a few months break but have recently started again and my son has been chomping at the bit to run with me.
    He ran 3.5km the other day with me and could have done another km but I decided that he'd run enough.

    I plan to run 3-4k once a week with him so that I don't dampen his enthusiasm.

    I have found kids are very resilient and many love running, so let them free to run as much as THEY like.
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