Part 2: Who taught you how to run as a child?
Would you like to read part 1, first?
You may have come across advice and tips on the internet, or in magazines and books that are centred around:
• volume & frequency of training
• type of terrain
• running clubs & running accessories etc.
Although some of it can be considered and is somewhat valuable, it’s unlikely you’ll have come across anything that has truly helped you develop and improve your child’s running technique. It’s important to remember that children are not mini-adults and you can’t expect them to follow a similar training programme to yours.
I’ll take you through some valuable points to deliberate over before working out a training regime for your child.
Movement & muscle memory
When we learn a new way of moving (like the first time we run) our brain, nervous system and muscles develop a movement pattern so it can remember the movement the next time we repeat it.
The problem lies in the fact that you can’t simply perform the movement once and expect your memory to have saved it. You need to repeat the sequence over and over until that movement pattern is permanently ingrained in your muscle memory.
That is why youngsters, when they are learning a new skill, are initially erratic, jumpy and unsteady, but then begin to smooth out their movements. They become more efficient in the process until eventually, it happens automatically.
How do children differ from adults?Children learn very quickly compared to adults. For instance, at The Running School for Kids, we can change the running technique of an adolescent in one hour after which they’ll be comfortable with their new technique. With an adult though, it can take up to three sessions to grasp a new technique, let alone be comfortable with using it.
The correct age for development and training
When parents ask me what the ideal age is for their child to start running, I tell them that although movement training should begin as soon as possible from the age of six onwards, the optimal time for running training is between the ages of nine and 14. This is because there is still the possibility of developing and steering the central nervous system at this age, and youngsters have the potential to acquire high levels of coordination and agility.
Training in more basic, functional movement can and should begin between the ages of three and six years old. With the correct teaching methodologies, toddlers can develop balance, coordination, awareness, agility and sports skills from a very early stage, which gives them a tremendous advantage if they decide to take up a sport and be active later in life.
Ideal distances for adolescents
I’m not talking about sending children out on long distance runs here. That is counter-productive to what we are trying to achieve – which is to teach your child the correct technique of running. Kids learn better when they are fresh and having fun. The exercises should be enjoyable and, yes, intense, but of short duration – about eight to twelve seconds.
So, how can you help your child learn to run properly?
Introducing My Running School, an online coaching platform for runners, kids and the elderly to learn how to Move Better, Run Better & Run Faster.
With Running Technique Coaching Packages for Kids, you can teach your child correct running technique wherever you are in the World!
Mike Antoniades is the Performance& Rehabilitation Director of The Movement & Running School which has franchises across the UK and Europe and in Japan.
The Running School is a unique company dedicated to teaching people of all ages ‘How to Run’. A detailed biomechanical assessment is carried out and then the next five sessions are devoted to teaching and coaching running technique, based on fitness levels and what you want to achieve. Courses start weekly from 8 years old to 80.
For more information on improving your running and on franchise information visit https://www.myrunningschool.com.