After summer vacations and camps come to a close, the fall season is when families get back together and settle into a more regular routine. A good way to re-connect with your loved ones this season is to sign up for a fall family event like a local 5K run/walk event.
To get your family up and running, incorporate the following tips to successfully train for and complete a family-focused fitness event.
Accept the Challenge
Do you remember when the one-mile fitness test in school seemed like such a daunting task? Or when even running a lap around your school’s playground seemed unbearable? Whether you are a child or an adult, running any distance can be quite a challenge.
The first step to conquering the challenge of completing a running race is to adopt a consistent training strategy. Even though it’s likely that the members in your family will be at different fitness levels, you can still follow a similar training program. Each person will just need to scale the training movements, distances and repetitions to his/her specific fitness level.
“A 5K or longer running event can be a big challenge for someone,” says Kelly Blackwin, personal trainer and studio owner at Fitness Together Santa Monica. “You can’t just show up for an event. You have to prepare and practice. Give yourself a few months to prepare and be consistent with your workouts and runs.”
Blackwin suggests following a training program that includes a mix of weekly individual and family fun runs, as well as strength training (weighted or body weight movements depending on fitness ability), stretching (dynamic before workouts and foam rolling after) and core work (abs, lower back and hip strengthening exercises). In addition to maintaining a regular physical activity routine, it also is important to include a healthy diet to maintain your desired energy levels and get the best results at your endurance event and throughout your life.
Work Together as a Team
The daily stresses of life can easily fragment and weigh down a cohesive family unit. Signing up and completing a family 5K together not only sets a good example to live a healthy and fit lifestyle, but it also can be an excellent way to build stronger bonds between family members.
It doesn’t matter if everyone finishes the race at the same time or not. Setting a goal as a team and putting in the work together to accomplish it can be a powerful life lesson and experience for both kids and parents.
“Everyone is super busy with work and school,” Blackwin says. “Completing a race together allows a family to have a shared experience that builds lasting family memories.”
“Parents are always telling their kids to do something, but if they don’t lead by example, then what they say doesn’t have much meaning,” she continues. “Families can have fun together during a race, de-stress from school and work, stay healthy as a family and teach children to take on challenges.”
Enjoy a Fun, Memorable Event Day Experience
The key to making your family’s race day enjoyable is to focus on having fun, supporting each other and motivating all family members to accomplish their specific race goals. Blackwin has seen how a 5K race can motivate and push families to accomplish results they never thought possible.
In one instance, Blackwin had a couple as clients who signed their family up to do a race together. The kids were active on their own, so the parents were extra motivated during their workout sessions with Blackwin to give it their all leading up to the race so they would be able to keep up with their active kids. On the day of the race, the kids were really impressed with the exercises and routine the parents were going through to warm up and prepare for the event.
“Having other family members involved provides a good support team to keep everyone motivated,” Blackwin says. “It’s really cool to see the families come together like that.”
On race day, Blackwin suggests keeping the following quick tips in mind to ensure your family is ready for a successful and enjoyable event:
- Get enough sleep during the week leading up to your race.
- Hydrate enough before, during and after the event.
- Properly warm up your body before the race.
- Avoid taking off too fast at the start of the race by focusing on pacing yourself. This strategy will help you have some kick left as you cross the finish line.
If you're looking for some extra fitness motivation for your family this fall, get everyone together for a 5K event. Use the positive influence of a local running race to bring your family closer together, make fitness fun, and teach the value of setting and accomplishing goals by giving it all you've got.