Get Your Family Ready for Next Year’s Boston Marathon in 5 Easy Steps

Has today’s Boston Marathon inspired you and the kids to think about long-distance running? Marathon training is certainly a great way for the whole family to get moving together.

But if laps around the track aren’t already part of your family routine, training for a Fun Run can be a great way to get started. More relaxed than your typical 5K, Fun Runs are great for families looking for a marathon-lite experience—running and walking are totally okay. Plus, preparing for the big day—spend at least 6-8 weeks training—will give you a shared goal to work toward as a team. Disneyland might also be a fun family activity, but a fun run will definitely be satisfying! Here are a few tips to get you started:

Family Marathon Training Activities:

Plan Together: Whether you walk or run, finishing a 5k requires strength and endurance. To get your family’s buy-in, plan your training regimen together—which routes to take and how to switch it up so no one gets bored. Let a trusted source guide you as to how far to run when in the 6–8 weeks leading up to the big day, but make sure you stay flexible with your kids to keep it fun. Crossing the finish line is important, but your main goal for your first family run should be to give everyone a great experience.  As exercise physiologist Anthony Wall, says: “Start early and they’ll get excited about it. It’s about doing something as a family that’s active and enjoyable.”

Get Training: In the weeks leading up to the run, walk/run 3 days out of 7, taking at least a day off in between. Begin with a 15-20 minute walk, then over time switch between walking and running, aiming to go farther each time. To keep younger children interested, count trees, cars, bikes (anything as you go by) or play eye spy. Remember to offer encouragement and when the kids start to flag, slow down, and keep things light. Challenge them to see how slow they can run or fast they can walk. Take time to laugh at them and yourself. Other things you and the kids do to get your recommended 60 minutes of daily activity—biking, shooting baskets, yoga—will also help build the muscles and stamina you’ll need for the big day.

Get the Right Gear: Supportive footwear is a must. Though sometimes pricey, athletic shoes from a sporting goods store, with knowledgeable salespeople to ensure proper fit, are worth the expense, especially for your first run. Thoughtful selections when it comes to comfortable socks and clothing—think layers in colder months—and a small first aid kit in case someone gets hurt also pay off.

Keep Hydrated: Drink water—not sports drinks—lots of it, before, during and after any workout and make sure your kids do, too. Though you may know what dehydration feels like, that’s a lesson they need to learn, one that will last a lifetime. Always pack extra water and emergency fuel—healthy granola bars, nuts and fruit—to fend off low-blood sugar moments.

Lay Low: Sore muscles need rest after a workout, hence the every-other-day workout plan. Just as important is sleep. Make sure everyone gets a full eight or nine hours before go-time.

Keep It Up: Finishing your first marathon is an amazing achievement. Make sure to celebrate together and then set your sights on your next challenge: sign up for another 5K or push your limits and shoot for a half marathon. You’ll be surprised what you can do when you do it together!

Want some more fun tips? Check out our blog post Fun Running Games to Play with Kids!