April went out like a lamb (or a lion depending on where you live) and May is blossoming all over.
May is also the month when America’s Kids Run. Are you wondering if your child is too young to run?
Or how you can prevent running injuries? How do you encourage running? Are there safety concerns,
and if so, what are they? We answer those questions and more…


Running comes naturally for kids. They run to get to the head of the line. They run to play
hide ‘n’ go seek. They run and jump into a lake. They run in circles around the house.

In our current drive to fight obesity in children, can we turn that natural desire to run, into a lifelong habit?
It’s possible – and many parents who love to run are doing just that. Even if you’re a parent who doesn’t run, it’s possible to nurture that need for speed in your children.

How and When to
Encourage Running

Many parents wonder when is the best age to start running. The answer is that if you start slow, your children can start at a very early age.

  • Three years old. A three-year-old can get out of the stroller, run with mom or dad for one or two blocks, and then get back in the stroller. Repeat.
  • Five years old. A five-year-old can run a 5k as long as he or she has been building up to it slowly.
  • Grade school. Kids love mud, so look for a mud run geared for kids.
  • Teens. Check your local community center or local non-profit organizations for fun runs and family runs. In addition to promoting fitness, the runs can also promote volunteerism. A 10k is a good limit for 13-year-olds and marathons are limited to those 18 years or older.
  • All ages. In May, as part of Armed Forces Day activities, military dependents in the United States, Bahrain, Greece, Puerto Rico, Germany, Japan, Iceland, England and Italy will participate in America’s Kids Run. The event began in 1986 and is promoted as the world’s largest children’s running event. It’s easy to register and there are training tips to promote success and prevent injury.

    When a parent is trying to foster a fitness habit, knowing how hard to push is important. A boy or girl who is pushed too hard may be likely to avoid running – not the desired result! Go slow and encourage often.
    Preventing injury is one way to help your child build a lifelong habit.
    • Warm up and watch the weather. Stretching is important even for flexible little people. Keep the muscles warm enough in cool weather and hydrated in hot weather.  Wear layers that can be put on or taken off if the weather is changeable.
    • If it hurts – stop doing it. Don’t ask your kids to “run through the pain.” If it hurts, it could cause a serious injury.
    • If the shoe fits. Runners with flat feet should choose shoes that advertise “motion control” or “stability.” Runners with high-arched feet should look for shoes that are described as “flexible” or “cushioned.”
    • Socks. Avoid 100% cotton to avoid blisters. Look for light weight wool, polyester or acrylic.
    • Road runners. Beep, beep. If you must run on a road, run on the left side of the road so you’re facing oncoming traffic. And run defensively. Be prepared to dive for the bushes if someone is driving erratically.
    • Trail runners. Have your kids run with a buddy. If they are older and run alone, they should leave the earphones at home. If a teenager runs alone with the tunes blasting, he or she could be surprised by a stranger with bad intentions. 

    On your mark! Get set! Go!


    Privacy Notice and Consent