Exercising with your kids: Why it doesn’t need to be a trade-off

So, you have children right? Then, you don’t have time for running or exercising! Wrong! And we are going to show you how! Just because you’re busy with family life and summer holiday activities, doesn’t mean that running has to take a back seat, or not even get out of first gear. Better still, the whole family get to join in and not a babysitter or excuse in sight.

This blog has been written by Susy Moore, the Communications Manager at Stripey Stork, in collaboration with Reigate Junior Joggers, a local running club for children, who also run men’s and women’s running courses.

Stripey Stork Logo

We’re all about family at Stripey Stork it’s at the heart of what we do, helping local families in need. Most of the people involved with our charity have children themselves, and we’re pretty busy too come to think of it. So, when Run Reigate invited us, as one of their charity partners this year, to be a guest blogger for them, we knew straight away what our subject was going to be.

But, don’t just take our word for it, we asked Reigate Junior Joggers for their input and they jumped at the chance to contribute. They were full of inspiration which they couldn’t wait to share, with some local gems thrown in.

Running Track

A great local spot for running as a family is Battlebridge Running Track in Merstham. It’s a 400m cinder track and always accessible. The kids will love joining in but if they need a break, you’ll be able to see them at all times, there’s a long jump pit and goal posts for football too!

Long Jump Pit
Memorial Park Tennis Courts

Local Parks

Tilgate Park in Crawley is a fab location for running, cycling and scooting. It has some shaded paths, a really great adventure playground and lots of activities going on in the summer, so you can really make a day of it. Earlswood Lakes is another good training spot, especially the lower lake as it’s flat and even has ample parking, a new café and pedalos for hire in school holidays. And not forgetting our very own Redhill Memorial Park on our doorstep, with a lovely café and renovated children’s play area. But did you know it also has a jogging route around the perimeter of the park? Kids love an incentive, so a coffee shop or ice cream treat afterwards may be just the motivation they need.

Bike It / Run It

Take your kids for a bike ride whilst you run alongside them – you’ll get to run at a good old pace whilst they get fit without them even realising it. Even better, make a day of it, take a picnic in their bike basket, or ride to a pub for a rewarding drink or lunch afterwards. In fact, we have the perfect location, across the top of Reigate Hill which is pretty flat, bike and running friendly and the views are just spectacular over the North Downs.

There’s also a path which takes you over the M25 motorway and leads you to The Sportsman Pub in Mogador, which is a good old fashioned country pub. The distance one way would see you covering 7km.

Boxhill Temple

21 Cycle Route

I’ve recently discovered the local section of this cycle route and love it! It’s pretty flat, partially shaded and you see so much wildlife along the way, such as rabbits, dragonflies, frogs, water birds and even the occasional deer. I join it from Redhill (near The Warwick School) and it takes you to the other side of Merstham/Bletchingley (near Hawthorns School). But, be warned, you do pass The Inn on the Pond family friendly pub, with a lovely outside seating area. I’ll let you decide what to do with that information!

In summer, I also see that Sustrans are organising a family bike ride from Redhill to Horley, which covers another part of this cycle route. It’s on 27th August, which is a bank holiday and you can sign up here.

Hikes

You could go for a family hike, with some lovely scenic places to visit in the local area. Box Hill instantly springs to mind, with their free self-guided walking leaflets which you can pick up at the top. You can even do the walk where you get to cool off in the stream at the bottom with stepping stones.

Interval Training

If you live on a cul-de-sac or a safe road, you can use this for interval training whilst your little ones play. You may even have neighbours who want to join in and you could take it in turns to mind the children. Although not a cul-de-sac, one place which I’ve started running with my 9-year-old is Redstone Hollow.

It’s a steep hill in Earlswood, so running up and down the hill, a few times is a really good work out. He’s managed it three times so far. He loves to time each lap to see if he can beat his previous time. If he wants to sit it out some of it then he can, he just waits halfway up the hill which means I can see him at all times.

Runners in field
Group of Cyclists
Stepping Stones
Challenges

Kids love a challenge, it gives them something to work towards and is also a good distraction. ‘Let’s see if we can see three rabbits on our run’. ‘The first one to the next lamppost wins’. ‘I bet you can’t run all the way up that hill’. If your child is doing the Run Reigate kid’s race this year, you can download the Cumulative Mile Tracker Challenge Form, where they record each mile of their incremental half mile, the final mile being the kid’s race.

It’s important that these goals are attainable. Remember, you want them to be motivated, not disappointed. Do be realistic about your child’s physical ability too, it should primarily be about having fun together.

Child Swap

Whilst all these fun games are going on, if you still feel you need to cover some more distance, you could take it in turns to go for a quick run whilst your friends hold the fort and you do a tag team effort.

Timing is Everything

If your children are early risers, go for a pre-breakfast jog together. Dawn really is a magical time and what a great way to start the day! And with the scorching weather we’ve been having, it’s much more comfortable at this time of day. If it’s too early for them, then you can try to fit one in before they wake, as long as another adult is at home of course. Or go for a run after the kids are in bed. Reigate Ladies Jogger’s evening runs start at 7.30pm precisely for this reason. I love the feeling of crawling into bed after an evening run, freshly showered and with tingly legs, I always sleep so much better.

Buggy Fit – And for those with smaller children in prams and buggies, there’s always buggy fit classes. There are a few in the local area, such as Pip Skinner’s Buggy Fit Class, which takes place at the Castle Grounds in Reigate on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:15am.

Sunset View
Parent and Kids Training
Stripey Stork Mascot
Timing is Everything

Looking to mix it up a bit? Why not also try a family mud run, inflatable obstacle course or colour run, the kids will absolutely love it and what special memories you’ll be making.

When your child sees you enjoying running, they will most likely want to try it for themselves – we are their role models after all! Especially if they’ve had the proud moment of cheering you on from the sideline of a local running event. If running is nurtured from an early age, it becomes second nature to children as they grow up. As Emma from Reigate Junior Joggers said, “my daughter thinks nothing of coming for a run with me, in fact, she often asks if she can”. Exercising and spending time with your children doesn’t need to be a compromise and everyone can reap the benefits. And I think the below image sums up beautifully why you should involve your children in running.

So, what are you waiting for? Run Reigate here you come! And don’t forget, if you want to kick-start your family into action then we’d be honoured to have your family on Team Stork!

Do you have other ideas of involving your children in running? We’d love you to share them in the comments below.

With special thanks to Emma and Anna from Reigate Joggers. They’re a really friendly bunch who have a passion for running and making the sport accessible to all. Click on each logo to check out their various websites for information on training courses and timetables:

Junior Jogger
Ladies Jogger
Mens Joggers

You may be interested to know that over the summer, Reigate Ladies Joggers have a Gentle Joggers programme where they’ll be covering approximately 4km per run with a walk. There are 7 sessions in total, starting on 23rd July and a block of 6 is only £30. Aside from these gentle sessions, they’ll be running regular sessions over the holidays too, see their website for the summer timetable.