Raising Runner Kids

By Anna Boom

We are thankful that over all the years and trails, we have met some incredible women. Many with different passions, backgrounds, lifestyles and family life. Luckily for us, two of these women are also amazing Moms whose kids have gone on to the top levels of running competition. They are kind enough to share some advice with us for this blog.

Karla is the newest WOOT Leader, heading up WOOT-Quantico. We met while she was here at Okinawa and she went on to run with the WOOT-San Diego group. Karla has joined us on some of the crazier adventures such as Zion Ragnar Trail (which was snowed out halfway through the race and there we were with frozen fingers trying to tear down our campsite in shorts). Her son Erik was fifth at California State Championships before being recruited to Auburn XC team. He also runs mid-distance for the Auburn Track and Field team as well. Hi Karla!!

 Erik looking strong at Auburn

Erik looking strong at Auburn

Judy is at Hawaii, and although there isn’t a WOOT group there (yet!), we’ve been in touch and we love her inspirational and positive posts. She also started running with WOOT while at Okinawa and found her own Tribe of Sisters, lovingly calling themselves, Twisted Sisters for all the crazy things they do together. Her son Colby won the Hawaii State Cross Country Championships in October 2017 and is now looking at colleges. Aloha Otero Family!!

  Colby #winning

Colby #winning

And on to the questions:

How old was your child when you introduced him to organized running?

K: ...Erik was first introduced to organized running as a baby/toddler, as he watched and cheered his Dad on, in various races.

J:...Colby was probably 5 years old. All our boys were exposed to organized running by a trickle effect of each participating in various community runs and then because of their age difference they all saw each other progress into school athletics.


What was his first race and how old was he?

K: Erik was about 5 years old when he first "competed".  It was in the Keebler Kids Mile, in San Diego, CA. ...Then about a year later he started track with the Camp Pendleton Track Club.

 Erik also #winning at Keebler Kids Mile

Erik also #winning at Keebler Kids Mile

J: Colby’s first race was when he was 9 years old, the Futenma 10K.  Shortly after that the did the Kinser 1/2 Marathon.  Much to my discouragement because I felt he needed a long term training plan but he was determined and got out there and did it.  He did it with a smile too.

Any advice on how to raise a healthy kid to be a runner?

K: My advice on raising a healthy kid to be a runner.....  Emulate the life. Exercising needs to be taught as part of a lifestyle, in addition to modeling healthy eating and overall living.  My biggest piece of advice is not to push it and to allow the desire to be that child's, not the parents.

J: Kids model what they see and thrive with support and love.  As Colby progresses into a higher level of racing, I don't have all the training answers but I still do the same thing I did when he was 9 years old. Make sure he has water, tell him I love him and most of all to have fun.

Karla also added that her second son doesn’t like running. Instead of pushing him into doing something he disliked, they offered he find another sport and try it. He picked up swimming (right here with the awesome Coach Mat and Okinawa Dolphins Swim Team) and now swims for California Polytechnic State University! Karla nicely sums it up (Judy’s advice echoes the same points):

  1. Model (live the healthy, active life)
  2. Support but don't push, allow it to be their desire
  3. Don't critique or coach, allow it to be fun for them

Thank you both for offering your time and advice. We appreciate it and look forward to seeing you soon.