Sunday, August 02, 2009

Kid's Marathon

This morning Fiona completed the final 2 kilometres of her 42.2 km Kid's Marathon challenge. Her parents had ordered her a medal to commemorate the accomplishment.

We found a little spur connecting two longer trails that has a reasonable grade, is relatively shaded and exactly 1000 metres in length. We've run it, back and forth for 2 km, approximately every second day for the past 5 weeks.

It's been a wonderful exercise in simplicity and in the value of time spent with a child doing something together over and over. Over the weeks we've felt the temperatures and humidity increase. We've smelled the wildflowers and fruit blossoms and noticed how they've changed. She's learned to pace herself, to feel the subtle difference in the uphill and downhill grade and adjust her pace accordingly. She's got stronger and more fit. She's learned the landmarks of the run, and how to estimate 100 metres, or half a kilometre. She's able to identify bear scratches on the trees, deer hair on the ground, to differentiate purple asters from purple knapweed (the latter a noxious weed, which we pull by hand every time we spot it along the trail). We've watched the cherries along the trail swell and redden and used them to power the return leg of our runs. Fiona named them Original Organic Sport Cherries. We've tasted their sweetness day by day as it peaked. We've watched the leftover ones darken and wrinkle, or show up in the bear scat along the trail. We talk when we run; heck, we often run holding hands. But what we talk about is mostly what we notice. And as the weeks have gone by, we've noticed more and more.

And still there's always more to notice. What a rich world we live in.


  1. Wow! I'm impressed by Fiona, and it sounds like you have wonderful places to run!

  2. What a great idea! We started our own kid's marathon 2 weeks ago after reading your blog. (I love it, by the way...we're an unschooling family in Edson with three littles 6 and under, and it's nice to see how things will change down the road.

    Anyway, my 6 and 4 yr old are doing the kid's marathon with me :) Loving it so far.


  3. Congratulations, Fiona!!! It sounds like you had a lot of fun together while doing your marathon and more fun to come, I'm sure!

  4. Anonymous6:34 pm

    After telling my daughter about what Fiona is doing, she expressed an interest in learning to run, too (to keep me company, was her reason). Do you have any references for a kids running program? She's 7 years old and I have no idea what is normal for a kid her age, or how to build up her strength and stamina safely.

  5. Everything I've read about kids' running says that kids are good natural runners. Meaning they have relaxed good form and know when they've had enough. They lose interest and energy before they are at risk for injury.

    Most organized kids' runs are a mile or so, so that's the ball-park we started at.

    The first time I ran with Fiona we chose a 1 km gently-uphill trail. We chatted as we ran, running side by side, and I just slowed the pace for us until she could chat back at me without panting. (We ran pretty slow!) I checked in with her regularly to see if she was ready to turn back, running the gentle downhill back to the van. She managed the whole trail and the return trip. I knew we could always walk if she ran out of steam.

    So most of our runs were 2 km. We never really increased the distance, except by 1 extra kilometre now and then. Some days she felt full of beans and we ran a bit faster.

  6. Oh, sorry, meant to include this link.


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