I have a love of running that goes way back to when my dad took me onto a track for the first time when I was three. Although I was a sprinter for the first two decades of my life, in my early twenties long distance running grabbed my attention. When my children entered this world, I was bound and determined to introduce them to the fun and crazy world of running.
Although they each have participated in some sort of race within a year of being born, I am currently unable to run with them and share in the excitement of the sport. And although it breaks my heart a little, I am thrilled to have found a running club for kids whose whole goal is to teach them all about running, especially how to love it as a part of their everyday lives!
The Optimus Kids running club meets in Northwest OKC/Edmond once to twice a week. It is led by Coach Ryan, who is passionately teaching kids about running and how to live a healthy lifestyle. Not only is he passionate but also very knowledgeable as he is a certified Adult Long Distance Running Coach through the Road Runner’s Club of America and is also a Certified Personal Trainer with a Youth Exercise Specialist Certification.
This running club is more than just sending our kids off to another practice. Optimus Kids mission is to get kids physically active and on their way to a healthier, more physically fit lifestyle through the sport of running. It’s teaching fundamentals that are structured from the RRCA’s Kids Run the Nation Program.
The kids learn all about:
- Concepts of walking, jogging, running & sprinting
- How to warm up, cool down, pace & stretch
- Physiology & good form
- Being part of a team
- Running safety
- Goal setting
- Energy balance, fueling and hydrating, healthy eating for life
- Training for community races – their first community race will be the GloRun on August 23rd.
Although the club is specifically for children ages 5-8, kids that fall outside of that age range are welcome as well.
One of my favorite parts about this running club is that the parents are encouraged to participate in the activities right along with their kiddos! What a great opportunity to fill the treasure box of memories with our kids.
The practices are so fun. My daughter was literally smiling with excitement the entire time and then all week she couldn’t wait until the next practice. She talked it up so much that her younger brother and sister begged to join in the fun too. Their eagerness was not disappointed. Although my three year old daughter was shy at the beginning of her first practice, by the end she was running and giving Coach Ryan high fives! It’s a fantastically positive environment.
Every practice will vary but this is what they did during their very first practice in the beginning of summer:
- Started off with a quick welcome & introduction
- Learned the importance of stretching & warming up
- Played games that focused on four different concepts – speed walking, jogging, running & sprinting
- Focused on sprinting with a game of Kickball
- Jogged 800 meters and cooled down
What has been interesting to watch over the course of several practices is the inner competitiveness of each child to push themselves to do a little more than they did at the previous practice. Coach Ryan was shocked by the kids at the July 9th practice. “During our ParkRun session at Hafer Park a very interesting thing happened. I couldn’t stop the kids from running!!! I thought it would be much harder to get them to START running, not STOP!”
Children of all athletic or nonathletic abilities are invited to participate. This is a very welcoming environment and the perfect place to introduce your child to having fun while being active.
How can your child become a member?
Well, the good news is that currently the cost for a membership is FREE because they want to provide an avenue for children to be introduced to the awesomeness of running. Instead of using money towards a running club membership, parents are encouraged to provide their children with appropriate running shoes and running clothes. Red Coyote is kindly providing 15% off running shoes to all members of the Optimus Kids Running Club AND as a member, each child receives a headband, running shirt and a bracelet.