As anyone who has been to their local park recently will know, outdoor running has become popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a real need to have stress relief, and running certainly fits the bill. And, more important, it’s great exercise!
The good thing about running, especially during these challenging times, is that it doesn’t need to be a solo event. It can be a family activity and has loads of benefits. It can help get the family outdoors and exercising together while building lifelong healthy habits. But you need to exercise safely and be courteous by wearing a mask and social distancing even more than normal. Heavy breathing during exercise can increase the potential exposure zones.
If you’re a novice runner—or family members are novices, start by making sure you and the kids have comfortable shoes and the right clothing for running. If you don’t have running shoes, wear something that supports and flexes with your feet. Shoes designed for running are probably worth buying if you are a serious or frequent runner, have imperfect bio-mechanics, or are susceptible to injuries.
When selecting clothes, choose something supple and appropriate for the weather: shorts, perhaps made of nylon, for when it’s warm and comfortable, or tights or warm-up pants and non-restricting jackets for winter.
Warming Up with the Kids Prevents Injuries
Try Leg Lunges and Dynamic Stretches
A jog to the end of the block and back should start with a warm-up. It helps get you all loose and establish a pre-run routine that can prevent injury and improve performance. You can incorporate walking, strides, and dynamic stretches, such as lunges and leg swings, into your warm-up.
When you’re ready to run, choose a safe course, perhaps a park. Establish a maximum time for your runs, no more than 10 minutes in the beginning, and keep adding until you reach 20 minutes.
A good way to safely exercise is to break the run into intervals, alternately running until you hear your breath, and walking until you catch your breath. Try starting with 15 to 20 seconds of running and 2 to 3 minutes of walking. Tune into your body, and don’t forget to pay attention to the kids. Talk to them later to get an idea of what works for all.
After a few weeks on the road, your running time will become longer and the time it takes to catch your breath shorter. That’s when running really becomes fun! Keep this family activity simple and easy. Be the tortoise, not the hare. When you avoid pushing too hard and tune into your body, you’re more likely to finish on a happy note. Don’t forget a little cooling down time at the end to gradually bring your body back to its resting state.
Sign Your Family Up for a Local Runs
Get in the Fun with a Virtual Run Like the Cookie Classic
Usually, there are a lot of organized runs to choose from. Some are family friendly. But with the onset of COVID-19, most have been cancelled or gone virtual. That’s the case with the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast’s (GSCCC) Cookie Classic Run. Since 2015, the run has attracted both Girl Scout members and the community.
Jessica Woodyard, GSCCC staff member who organizes the run along with a volunteer committee, says there have been challenges of promoting a virtual run. “Even though the run is virtual, we still want to give participants an opportunity to connect with our mission and have fun as a community,” she said. “We are asking participants to share pictures when they complete their virtual run and are offering the same amount of race gear that participants have received in the past. We will miss seeing all the smiling faces come across the finish line, but we are now able to have participants from across the country register. Runners from Alabama, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and more have registered so we are excited to see just how far the Cookie Classic Run can reach!”
Shanda Cichig, a Girl Scout volunteer and parent of two girls who are Girl Scouts, 6th-grader Lucy and 2nd-grader Nina, has participated in the Cookie Classic Run for three years. She and her husband Eric, along with their daughters, are all avid runners. Being together as a family, to be able to go out and support each other, is a great experience.
Before COVID, finding time to run with the girls was sometimes challenging. “Lucy plays piano, Nina is in dance, and both girls are in Girl Scouts, but of late it has been something we all look forward to as a family,” Shanda said. “We have already set aside a date for our Cookie Classic Run and are planning to create a finish line and celebrate with grandparents.”
This year, participants in the Cookie Classic will be doing a virtual run where they can sign up for a 5K or 1 mile and still earn a medal and Cookie Classic swag. Here’s how it will work: Individuals can register for their desired race, 5K or 1 mile, and complete the race at their own pace by the run date of January 16, 2021. GSCCC has a Facebook Event up on social media to keep the buzz going and for updates.
Participants are encouraged to post pictures and share stories on the GSCCC Cookie Classic Facebook page, but there is no requirement to report race times. Participants will be mailed packets of event swag towards the end of January or they can pick them up from A Place for Girls, the council’s headquarters in Chesapeake, and get a free box of Girl Scout Cookies.
So, if you’re looking for some family fun, consider this virtual run where you’ll enjoy the endorphin-pumping fun of running and the good feeling that comes from helping a good cause.
Visit www.gsccc.org for more information about the Cookie Classic Run. Not interested in the run but would love to get your hands on some Girl Scout Cookies? Visit www.gsccc.org for details or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marcy Germanotta is communications director for Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast