Children's races

Kids suffering exam stress? Get them signed up for a race – according to a new study, encouraging youngsters to pick their knees up gives their grades a lift, too. Researchers at Spain’s Universitat Jaume I found that kids who regularly competed in sporting events were better at time-management as well as being more motivated to learn. More and more races these days have a 2 or 3K option for children to run while their parents tackle the longer distances, share your thoughts below.



  • The last time my son did a race that wasn't at school was when he was about 5 and we walked the race that they did on a Saturday before the Great South Run. He has no interest in running at all. He was supposed to do one of the legs in the 4x100 metre relay at his school sports the other day and quite happily allowed someone else to take his place instead while he sat and watched the events all day.
    He does life saving at the local pool once a week, rides his bike and will go to the gym and use the running machine (fast walk and not a run), bike, rowing machine and weight machines. He's done archery and canoeing/kayaking in the past as well and wants to try golf. At some point he might find a sport that he likes enough to focus on it, in the meantime he's getting exercise and is probably the most relaxed teenager I know. I can't see him getting overly stressed unless its about something that really, really serious.

  • So Jocks are better at school than the nerds eh? Utter tosh. I doubt if the research will withstand the smallest amount of scrutiny. Another " a report suggests" nonsense reported as fact. Either post of a link to the study or don't say it. This sort of stuff is unworthy of the Daily Mail weekend magazine.

  • agree it should be a requirement that all newspaper reports amd blog posts (though not sure how you'd enforce the blog post rule!) have a link if they want to talk about research. Is some evidence exercise on older age is beneficial to cognition so it's nut totally far fetched, but it does depend on what mechanism is proposed. And scrutinizing the research study methods.  

    as for me, I ran as a teenager. Most runners i knew, particularly the girls, gave it up somewhere between 13 and 15. 

  • There's some info on the study here - Sport at competitive level improves the academic performance of secondary education students


    Don't think this has actually been published in a peer-reviewed journal yet.

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    My lad has given up running for 12 hour 'Call of Duties'.

    He's on it right this second, I can hear himimage

  • My 6 year old son cannot find enough races to enter! Having watched me plod along at the rear of cross country races, he has caught the bug.  If I can find local events that have childrens races attahced to an adult event, then I let him enter, but no more than 1 a fortnight.  And he does not do any training.  He turns up, runs, and goes home, with no expectations placed on him.

    He really enjoys the race, but I am always shocked that there are normally less than 20 children taking part, especially when it's normally no more than £2 or £3 to enter.  I just wish that there were more local races, and that the local cross country league would allow children under 8 to take part in a non-competitive run.

  • CindersCinders ✭✭✭

    Not sure what thoughts we are supposed to be sharing.  Are you asking for parents of exam stressed kids if their kids are running?

    Can't answer that one yet, he's only 5 but he is keen to do some races like LW's son above image

  • My kids love a race but I am wary if the 'kids race' is everyone under the age of 16 as little ones get trampled and the last 2 races have resulted in a pile up within seconds of  the gun. Healthy body, healthy mind works for adults so why the scepticism about a similar correlation in kids?

  • I've become very enthused by the parkrun movement, which also encourages children. I know that some events are big, and may well be unsuitable for younger children, but our local is 4 laps on grass, and I love to see youngsters having a go. It's easy for them to do one or two laps if the full 5k is too much. We sometimes have the whole family taking part, and sometimes one parent running with and encouraging their child.

  • I wouldn't say that parkrun encourages children. The ethos, as I read it is that athletes run at their own risk at a free event. The parents take responsibility for their own children. I don't think parkrun discourages children from running, the same as they don't discourage anyone else from taking park.

  • My son is 7 and has run 11 runs, great south mini, marwell zoo, exbury gardens, gosport mile and gosport mini, the most exspensive was great south mini at 12 quid, least with marwell and exbury your race number gets you into the venue or free, he enjoys taking his medals to school and there is no pressure on him, turns up runs and he likes the goody bag!

  • Um i don't have any children but i just wanted to throw something out there from my own experience as an athlete when i was younger. When i was a child i would have done any sport suggested to me, i did anything and everything. I was really fast and did run short sprints for county on behalf of the school. But when i hit 11 or 12 my body changed. Running when you are developing a chest is excruciatingly painful and your body is just changing in a way that you don't really understand. Suddenly i became slower and i felt embarassed about myself. I withdrew from excercise, yet this is when the really stressful exam period time is also.

    I basically just wanted to remind people that puberty is a rather exceptional time for most kids and in my experience even though i was a very active younger child that didnt help  me with speed, confidence, changed running gait due to growing, change in weight etc.

    I concentrated on my exams because i had to do them at the same time as everyone else in the country (and yes it is stressful because they way they set out the exams is stressful, everyday they pressure you telling you you wont get a good job if you dont get an A etc), and then i returned to excercise after all the growing pains and exam stuff stopped.

    I guess what i am saying is, it's probably not a good idea to ask those going through puberty to compete in anything other than what they want to do. Just make your kids feel supported. As an adult i love going out for a run to chill out, as a teenager i may have cried if you had asked me to do this as well as all the other stuff i had to achieve.

  • My daughter is 7 and for my last few races has asked why she can't do it. As a result of this I am looking at future races that also have a kids fun run. I have to sy I am chuffed to bits that it has been my daughters idea (even if there were a few parental subliminal messages) and she told that 'at least I will get my own medal instead of having yours mommy!'

  • It is a positive trend but I am in a quandary. I must admit that my daughter did a fun run on her second birthday but I realised soon after that that was ludicrous really. If she does one again, it will be when she wants to and when she is good and ready. At the moment, I have a problem with kids doing parkrun. Some are still in Primary school and run at maximal effort on hard surfaces with no training. Not sure whether this is really a good idea. Junior parkruns over shorter distances would be a great idea.

  • I think the Junior parkrun is a more suitable distance for kids, lets say, under 7. But for years kids play football for hours on end on all sorts of surfaces and no one bats an eyelid. I don't think kids run at an effort that will hurt at that age. They are far too clever for that.

  • SR.unless they are trying to gain their parents respect.........and then some will run any amount of distance and in pain.a bit like dogs will if they are of the ature to try and please the owner....


    and per teenagers running to relieve stress..has anyone ever tried getting a teenager to do anything that they don't want to.......and at exam time why on earth give them more hassle...

    my middle son went out for runs during this time as he enjoyed it and found it helped him ........the other two would find that torture if you tried to make them and would stres them out no end......


  • My daughter is 10. She asks to train every single day but , as a runner myself , I am very conscious of her damaging her self at such a young age. We keep it 2 or 3 times a week . I let her do one park run , which she did in 23mins very comfortably, and she begs me each week to let her do it again (as she watches me zip by !!).

    She races pretty regularly over 1m XC and does very well , loves getting covered in mud and loves competition.

    She has pictures of Paula Radcliffe and Mo all over her walls and I stood for 2 hours this week in the rain to get Mo's autobiography signed as a Christmas present for her.

    Nothing better than both of us running round the orchards with the dog !

  • Sussex Runner NLR wrote (see)

    I wouldn't say that parkrun encourages children. The ethos, as I read it is that athletes run at their own risk at a free event. The parents take responsibility for their own children. I don't think parkrun discourages children from running, the same as they don't discourage anyone else from taking park.

    I'd say it depends on the individual parkrun. My local one (Gateshead) are very encouraging to the kids who take part. Only yesterday I saw a young girl applauded over the line in last place.

  • My children (7&10) have started parkruns and we have been welcomed wherever we have run with them - 2 in London and 1 in Weymouth.  They started running/walking and now manage to run all the way really nicely. The fellow runners and volunteers have been great in supporting them, and they enjoy all the data at the end of the day.  My son is about to start beating me so its time for me to get on the track..

  • I'm sure kids are applauded crossing the finish line all the country Jim. Doesn't mean that parkrun encourages them any more any lass than anyone else. Since my post there does seem to be quite a few Junior parkruns cropping up all over the place. At 2k most people would suggest that it is a more suitable distance for younger kids. 

  • There are kids that regularly thrash me at park run, and there's a 14 yr old girl who I have a 'battle' with most wks for first lady (child!)  I love it.  She's the future, I'm old enough to be her mother and therefore anything but the future.  My kids are still little but my 5 yr old daughter just did her first fun run at a 10k I did.  It was less than a mile, she enjoyed herself despite coming last (she was the youngest) and proudly took her medal to school the next day.  If my kids take up running then great.  But it's a sport I didn't start doing till I was in my 20s so if they don't take it up when kids then I'm sure they'll find something else they enjoy.

  • Agree with you carovet.  Some of the children are really impressive.  What I like is that mine still appear happy to just complete it and improve their times which is really great for my 10 year old who tends to give up if he's not feeling up to it, so for him finishing is really the target and an achievement in itself. Then he'll enjoy analysing the data after. While the 7 year old has a completely different approach....parkrun works for both these characters as well as my husband who, when not encouraging our kids, is desperate not to be beaten by 14 year olds...

  • My nine year old daughter has just joined an athletics club. The club requires them to show committment by competing in 4 races a year to represent the club. I think this is a great idea.

    Not sure of distances, but will vary between age groups which range from 9 to 16 and then 16+.


     11 year old said "you're not going to make me go to athletics are you?" She's more music and art and anything not to work up a sweat! image

    I haven't run since school, but felt so lazy I have just started couch to 5 as youngest wants me to go running with her!

  • lack of local events for children here. lack of events within 20 miles for any age group, mind...

    the girl in the house (age 5 1/2) has done 3 great mini runs so far. more of an event than a race I suppose but still all part of the fun. she loves to clap and cheer in the "runny run runners" as they cross the finish line of any event. one of my favourite pictures is her, aged 3, wearing her finishers medal, and cheering on the children who are still crossing the line.

    I hope she continues to want to join in and take part (on a strictly medals and t shirt basis) and gets enjoyment out of running. watching her mummy (and very occasionally daddy) run will have given her no notion of competition against others (!) but hopefully will have shown her that much personal satisfaction can be gained from crossing a finish line.

    hard to see why you wouldn't encourage (but not insist) on exercise for anyone at any age really...

  • I'm 12 and do lots of parkruns. I have done two 10k's but I won't do another for a while. I run a lot and I am competitive with a 21:19 5k and 44:23 10k but I do think more children's races are needed for the 5k distance as only the best of the best get to do competitive 5k's. The closest competitive 5k I get is my local parkrun so more is needed I believe.


  • school X-C? School athletics? Should be the kids signing themselves up to take part. 

  • As I said Chappers the school races are only for the best of the best. You don't sign up

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