Family Runs: Healthier and happier for the long run
Published on: April 11, 2020
Vana and her family love running and combine this with participating in charity runs to support different causes in the community. She tells us that we don’t need to be super athletic to start running as a family but following the advice below will make it more pleasant for everyone.
By Vanasobhin Kasemsri
Recently I came across a parent writing to a popular Facebook page for Expat Families asking for information on whether there are any “running clubs” in Bangkok for kids as her son enjoys running and does not want to be in a soccer club. I was curious and google searched to help her find an answer. Unfortunately, I found no specific running clubs for kids, but there are many running clubs for adult runners. I called to inquire, and many clubs do welcome kids if they come along with their parents, but they must be able to keep up with the pace of a “grown-up!”
I also found some interesting facts written in a blog by Samitivej Hospital about running for kids. The hospital experts recommended that kids should be five years old and above to start running actively. They recommend that runs should not exceed 10 kilometers in length. Most importantly, the kids should wear comfy light clothes that can withstand the heat, good ground-gripping running shoes and bring a water bottle, as they need to drink frequently. We tend to forget that kids get hotter and colder faster than adults. The younger they are, the harder it is for them to adjust to significant humidity and heat.
As part of children’s development, once they start standing, they naturally want to walk. Once they can walk, their curiosity takes them further and they learn how to run. Parents should encourage kids to enjoy this part of their development as the experts noted that kid’s abilities in running can aid their ability to participate and transition into other sports, for example, hockey, soccer, cross country, tennis and many more.
It’s important to find the right beginner’s path for your whole family to start running together, as many young kids can get excited and rush off without proper speed control. Slipping off a path, tripping, or falling could put lots of strain on those little ankles! You can find kid-friendly paths in Bangkok at parks with smooth running surfaces to suit young beginners such as Wachirabenchatat Park (Suan Rod Fai) near Chatuchak, Lumpini Park and Benchasiri Park in Sukhumvit. The varieties of flowers, animals, statues and play areas also provide interesting pit stops along the way.
Parents should also lead the appropriate pace for their kids to avoid burnout. Introduce pacing with a purpose such as “how many steps can we do within one round of the park,” to get kids to focus on a slower speed. You could introduce some running on grass along with balancing and controlling a soccer ball to help progress with mobility and the muscle needed for longer distance running.
As part of children’s development, once they start standing, they naturally want to walk. Once they can walk, their curiosity takes them further and they learn how to run.
Both of my kids, an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old, love the outdoors and love to run. However, they are not yet keen to train seriously for any long-distance run. We enjoy running together as a family, as it can be a fun and rewarding weekend experience. I can still remember our first go at running with the kids. We used to run around the house when they were little, but once the space started to feel smaller, we moved to the parks to bike or run. We found that they enjoyed seeing the odd turtles popping out of water and squirrels hopping from tree to tree. After runs, they often look forward to cold drinks and their favorite popsicles.
If your family is keen on running and enjoys outdoor activities, you may look for running events to do together. A couple of years ago, we were invited by a group of friends to join a charity run called Run for Nurses, with proceeds from the event going towards scholarships for nursing students, mostly from underprivileged families. We wanted to help the cause and woke up extra early at 5am to join the 6am start at Lumpini Park. Despite the event being in May, the weather was 25 degrees Celsius. We had a gentle cool breeze and met other families with kids running alongside us. It felt like we belonged to a family running club. After the run, the kids enjoyed chocolate drinks, hot pizzas, ice creams and fruits. What a memorable event it was, and it helped to ignite our drive to do more charity runs.
Over the past two years we have joined dozens of charity runs. There were so many memorable and enjoyable ones, some even outside of Bangkok – one at Toscana Valley in Khao Yai and the other at the Naval Base in Sattahip, where we had the chance to see beautiful mountain valleys and run alongside naval officers. This year we are not off to such a good start as many April-May running events have been postponed due to the strict precautions against the spread of the Covid19 virus. However, running around in parks and doing outdoor activities where you are not in a crowded or restricted area will help to keep your family healthy. Health professionals recommend that regular exercise and being in the sun build immunity that may help to protect us against illnesses.
We hope to join some runs later this year once the Covid19 situation improves.
If you are keen to start, look for convenient locations first, then the types of runs on offer, and lastly, look for ones with good causes that are close to your heart.
Many of the events will be listed in Thai, so feel free to line or email them to ask for more details. Some good annual runs to join and perhaps great causes for the kids to recognize include: Runs for Wildlife by Sueb Foundation, Run for Nurses (a charity run in October) and Run with Dogs, another worthwhile event organized at Sanam Pao in November. The Royal Guards do horse riding and training. Kids will enjoy seeing runners with their dogs.
I am certain that participating in a memorable charity run will make your time in Thailand more enjoyable and meaningful. Feel free to contact me if you are keen to join a family-friendly running event and need some suggestions.
Images courtesy of the author.
Can children train to be runners? https://www.samitivejhospitals.com/en/kids_running/
About the Author
Vana Kasemsri, a Thai national born in the US, has lived overseas for a significant part of her life. She has been a BAMBI volunteer and member since 2014, and now works for B Grimm Company, overseeing their charity and conservation projects, including “Saving the Tigers.” Vana enjoys spending her free time exploring Bangkok and its surrounding provinces with her family. She hopes to share her views on nature conservation and her travel experiences with newcomers to Thailand and BAMBI members. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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