Taking kids to a ParkRun

We don't have a ParkRun anywhere near us, but we're going to be in Bedford in a couple of weeks and I was thinking of going along but we've 2 boys aged 5 and 8. They both love to run, but I don't know whether they can run 5k. The parkrun website says that its fine to take kids. I expect the 8 year old could do 5k with no real bother, whereas the 5 year old would probably not due to boredom in the normal course of things, but might keep going if in a Group event. Obviously I wouldn't 'make' them keep running (not sure how you could anyway!) if they wanted to stop, but is it a totally daft idea to take them to a ParkRun? Does anyone else take kids and, if so, what age?


  • I saw a dad taking his two children round our parkrun: he told the older one to wait 10 seconds, then run ahead to a point in the course 50 yards ahead or so (ie. go to the big tree) where he waited for his dad and brother to catch up. The older one did a series of sprints - the dad and the young one took it more sedately. They both seemed to be having fun, and keeping to their own level.

  • I think it's a great idea!  Quite a lot of parents bring their kids to my local parkrun, the youngest regular is 6 and he usually dashes off at the start and slows down by 1km. The approach that Dan describes sounds like a good way to keep both kids interested for the whole 5k image

  • with the two children it would be easier if there were two adults as young children need to be accompanied........which can be difficult if they are different levels........

  • There would be 2 adults, sorry, wasn't clear. It's because my husband and I would both want to run that we'd have to take the kids. I'd probably send the 8 year old with daddy and the 5 year old could come with me. We do a lot of the 'run ahead to that point' sort of thing when we're walking anyway (although it's the little one who does it more) and also 'run to there and then back to us'. Think pair of black and white collie dogs and you've got the idea of taking my kids for a walk!
  • Love that description Shona! That's exactly what it's like taking my little cousins out image

  • That put a smile on my faceimage

  • In terms of simply should a 5 and 8 year old do parkrun: a resounding DEFINITELY!!! Won't be out of place at all, and there is no time that is too slow for parkrun. Make sure everyone is signed up and has their barcode! 10 runs, and they get a T-shirt (the juniors only - 50 runs minimum for adults image

  • i'm sure the kids would love it. and from my experience they ususally get a good welcome from most of the runners, except maybe the front of the pack runners who don't really seem to be in to mingle (IMHO)

  • I've been taking my (now 10 year old) to parkrun since last year.  He has run 5k and has done 10 to get his t-shirt but as there's a 2.5k one lap option, he usually does that and then waits for my husband and I to do the second lap.  It's great exercise and is quick, unlike the interminable (well, 30 mins warm-up and 40 mins for the match) football matches we used to have to stand in the cold through.

  • Hhmmm, took them for a little run this morning as an experiment and to be honest they weren't that interested. They liked the idea, but even run /walking (letting them run as much at whatever speed and walk as much as they wanted) they'd declared themselves 'bored' by 0.8k! Maybe they just weren't in the mood as they've both done a couple of the very early couch to 5k runs with me and covered at least 2-2.5 km. Not sure they're up to the 5k quite yet.
  • I have taken my 5 & 8 year old to a 3k event at xmas which they coped with fine and could have kept going.  My 8 year old will come to Parkruns with me and is very motivated by the idea of getting a special t-shirt after 10 runs. I wouldn't give up on the idea yet, but don't expect to run your normal pace. They could have just been having an off day.  If you really want to get them to do it, buy a couple of cheap medals from your local shoe repair type place, ebay (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Gold-Silver-Bronze-medals-45mm-with-neck-ribbon-Free-1-insert-centre-/140904412762?pt=UK_SportingGoods_OtherSports&hash=item20ce8eb65a) or a bag of ten plastic ones from Asda and when they finish present them with one each - works with mine everytime.

  • Well, as it turns out, the 5 year old wasn't well, so perhaps that was it. I guess we'll see how they feel on the day.
  • loads of little ones at MK parkrun, they all seem to love it, and may can beat me too, i'm sure the crowd will be more fun and they will enjoy the morning. if still not convinced the  youngest one will manage, why not one parent volunteer with the 5 year old and cheer mum/dad & sibling on and everyone else too, am sure they would love marshalls , then everyone enjoys the morning without feeling guilty they got bored 

  • Lots of Primary kids seem to race our local PR every week but surely that`s not good?! Some do no running apart from a maximal effort in the local park. Also I suspect that 5k is too far for primary kids.

  • I am thinking about taking my 6 year old to my local one soon. There is always a fair few kids so should be ok. I think having his own barcode and the whole results thing will motivate him to do it.

    He keeps wanting to come on runs with me so I tell him the time to get ready. I then pick him up after my run and we go for a cool down jog 1-2 km. He loves it, you also get some great looks when he is there looking good and I am a sweaty knackered mess next to him.

  • My 6 year old comes along with me sometimes to parkrun - he loves it. The atmosphere helps motivate him, and knowing he can beat some of the grown-ups (don't know where he gets his competitiveness from image).  He loves the idea that he can get a t-shirt if he does enough of them.  I only let him do it occasionally though as I appreciate that his bones aren't fully developed yet - 5k every week would be too much.  It helps that our local parkrun is mainly on trails, so a bit softer on his joints than road would be.  We got him a lanyard so he can carry his own barcode, and sometimes he will choose to take some water round too.  We just go at his pace, and he chooses whether he runs or walks.  He had done shorter fun runs before though and regularly watches us at races or helps marshall, so that maybe helped him know what he was in for.  And he loves waiting for the result to come in to see if he has a PB or not!  It might be worth going to the parkrun anyway, then letting them decide once they are there?

  • The youngest at Bedford who does the 5k is a four year old. He also is our youngest volunteer too.

    All children are welcome at Bedford parkrun whether they run, jog or walk. Those in buggies can come along too but obviously we cannot scan them.

  • I still say it is too far. Way too far for a 4 year old. And most parkruns are on hard surfaces.

  • Bit late to this one, but one thing I would raise is that the Bedford Parkrun is laps of the park, which is well worth bearing in mind.

    I've seen some younger kids start to either tire or get bored, and they start to wander around the path a little, kicking pine cones etc.

    Which is fine, except obviously younger kids aren't always endowed with the best in spatial awareness, such as the front-runners haring up on them at full pelt. I've seen some very near misses on that Parkrun.

    Personally I'd suggest Huntingdon as a localish alternative - it's a more interesting place for kids anyway, a one-lap run, so no front runners hurdling them, there's a more "fun" finish (downhill, then round the corner for a kick to the line) and the cafe at the end does toast, cakes and ice cream.

    Obviously, in Bedford bear in mind that there's the option of just running part of the course and then going about your day. Nothing wrong with a lap-and-a-bit of the park followed by swimming at the nearby baths.

  • My 6 yo did a parkrun this summer and loved it! He took 34 minutes and chatted to his dad the whole way around. I think as long as they don't race it, then it's OK for them to run the distance. I know UK athletics don't usually allow kids to run this distance but bend the rules for parkrun as it's not classed as a race. I think as long as they can chat while they run, then it's good for them to do. There is actually a 9 year old girl in my local one who was the first woman a few weeks ago with a time of 20 minutes. So glad I didn't run it that day!

  • RunShonaRunRunShonaRun ✭✭✭

    Old thread, I know, but ironically i just found my own thread whilst googling how far/often a child ought to run! So, to update, we never did do that Parkrun in Bedford 3 years ago, and I haven't run much in the last 2 or so years, BUT I'm getting back to it and my 8 year old (the 5 year old from the original post!) is quite keen to accompany me. We now have 2 Parkruns nearby and we did one of them on Saturday. Husband ran it himself, followed by the now 11 year old (husband offered to run with him, but he said he'd rather go at his own pace) - very proud that he managed to walk/run round it himself, his first attempt at running, in 42 minutes. The now 8 year old and I have had a little bit of practice as he's quite keen to come out on runs with me, but when it came to it he chattered the whole way round and we walked large amounts of it, so took 45 minutes (which is absolutely fine).  But this evening we've been out again and done 5k with only 5minute's walk in the middle, so we're getting towards running the whole thing. 

    What I'm now wondering, is how often an 8 year old ought to do this. I was happy enough for him to run with me this evening as a LOT of Saturday's run was walked and we won't be going next Saturday due to other commitments. But I'm assuming that in general running the Parkrun on Saturday and then an early evening run on Monday or Tuesday would be too much for an 8 year old's joints and bones even if he is keen? Is there any evidence about this? Anyone got any experience?

  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    Hi Shona, good to hear you're still keen to run with your children.

    I'm not sure if your local park run does it but in my area we have a kids only version which might be more suitable for your 8 year old


    and if that is available in your area, be a good starting point.

    And if its not available, why not get involved in setting a similar run up in whichever of the ParkRuns is nearest/best for you?
  • Shona, from my experience it's not the running per se that causes problems, but combined with phases of rapid growth there can be joint issues, particularly ankles and knees (the obvious ones I guess).  Put simply, the grow so quickly that tendons don't keep up, causing pain when running.  That was the problem my boy had anyway - no problems running parkrun regularly when he was younger, but when he was 11 he started to get knee pains.  Stretching helped, but the long-term solution was to lay off running while his growth was quickest.  He's fine now, he's 13 and taller than I am so hopefully no more growth spurts!

    Caveat - the parkrun he does is off-road, so a bit easier with impacts than one on tarmac.  I'm not sure if that made it easier when he was younger - most of the youngsters seem to have a better running style with less heel strike than many of the adults!

  • I was also going to recommend junior parkrun - only 2k, which you can walk in 20 mins if necessary, and the parents can either volunteer as marshals or go round with their kids. Lots of them in the MK/Aylesbury/Buckingham area.

  • Thanks for the replies. We don't have a junior parkrun anywhere near us, and to be honest the appeal of them running parkrun for me is that I can run at the same time. if they ran a junior one then one or other of us couldn't run the 5k one as we'd have to watch them. I just don't want to be encouraging them to do something that's not good for them. 

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