How often do you say, “The kids really need to go outside and run around…”? Even when it’s freezing cold (like it is today in Connecticut), most kids I know want the chance to breathe in some fresh air and release some energy. Kate Rich, our Mom of the Month, helps dozens of children do just that. She is a pharmacist by trade and the coach of a youth running club by heart. Please read on to check out how this annual marathoner keeps herself, and tons of other families, fit and having fun. Ready. Set. Go!
Kate’s Runitlikeamom Run-down:
* I have seven-year old twin girls.
* I am a pharmacist. I work for a medical information company that is based in northern California, but I work remotely from home in CT.
* On my own, my main activity is running, but I do some swimming and biking for cross training. I coach Zoomerangs which is a youth running program. My girls have been participating in this program since they were 3 1/2. One of the things I like most about this program is that it gives families the opportunity to unplug, get outside, and be active together.
* In terms of fitness goals…Short term goals are to maintain fitness by being as consistent as possible. I’m thinking about possibly running a 50k trail race in CA this spring. The longest distance I’ve run is a marathon so this will be a new challenge. My long term goal is the same, stay on course- I try to do 1 marathon a year and then fill in with other types of races. I hope to get more into triathlons just to switch things up.
* My girls have said so many funny things! One of my daughters recently came to me because she was upset with her sister about something and she said (about her sister) “Why does she always have to act so sassy and fancy?” We all cracked up, so funny what comes out of kids’ mouths!
* If stranded on an island with my children I would bring…Goggles- because the girls would definitely want to swim and would ‘need’ their goggles; games- because we’d eventually get tired of swimming and would need something else to keep us entertained; and books- lots and lots of books!
* My favorite indulgence is chocolate- any kind!
How did you get into coaching the Zoomerangs?
My girls got involved with the Zoomerangs West Hartford program when they were 3 1/2 years old, Fall of 2011. I immediately fell in love with the program. I was amazed at how many kids and families were involved and that everyone from grandparents to baby siblings were having so much fun while staying fit. The concept is so simple – kids running for a single gummy worm and small tokens to track their mileage. I loved/love that it is an activity for kids but can involve the entire family. It’s a great way to unplug and do something active together outside. I am a member of the Glastonbury River Runners and we had no youth running program in 2011. Myself, along with another club member whose kids were also involved in the West Hartford Zoomerangs program, approached our club’s board to find out if we could do something similar in Glastonbury. The board was 100% supportive and it was decided that we would ask Fleet Feet if we could partner with them and start an East of the River branch of Zoomerangs. Stephanie Blozy, from Fleet Feet, loved the idea and in the spring of 2012 we held our first season of Zoomerangs East of the River. Since that time, we have continued to partner with Fleet Feet and offer both spring and fall sessions of Zoomerangs
What are some tips you have for parents who are interested in getting/keeping their kids running?
Make it fun. Kids are natural runners. Many kids will run around all day long and not tire. They don’t realize that they are running. If you ask a kid to go do laps around a track, most kids will resist or get tired very quickly. The trick is to make it fun. Switch things up by alternating between walking and running. I also will incorporate fun things like skipping, hopping, leaping, etc. for the length of one side of the track. Incentives work, like what we do with Zoomerangs- track mileage and give little rewards when the child achieves a certain number of laps or miles. Find a friend to run with your child. My girls always do much better when they have a friend at practice. They forget they are running. For them, it’s like a play date on the track. I never force my kids to run. If they say they don’t want to run then I give them other options. They can walk, or they can even help coach. For my girls, I just want to expose them to an active, healthy lifestyle. I want to provide them with the same opportunities I had growing up. I come from a large running family. I have 7 siblings who have all run at some point in their life and many of us continue to run. My father was a long distance runner and exposed us to the running life when we were kids. I participated in many road races as a kid and spent many afternoons at the track cheering on my older brothers while they competed. I’ve learned so many great life lessons on the track and on the road. Running is my outlet and therapy. I hope that, by exposing my girls young and not pushing it on them, they will grow to love running as I do.
What alternatives to running to you recommend?
Swimming, biking, walking, dancing, hiking, skating and anything else that gets the body moving!
Your background as a pharmacist must give you an interesting perspective, as a parent and someone who spends a lot of time with children. Do you keep those parts of your life separate or do you find you naturally integrate the two?
My background as a pharmacist gives me perspective and reminds me of the importance of living healthy. I am keenly aware of the many Americans who have multiple chronic conditions as a result of unhealthy living. Living a healthy lifestyle does not come naturally to everyone. I think it is a learned activity and much easier to adopt as a child. As we get older, it is more difficult to change our patterns. This motivates me to want to inspire, model, coach an active lifestyle to not only my kids but all kids.
Thank you Kate for being a great example of how to embrace a healthy lifestyle as a family…and making it look easy! To find out more about the Zoomerangs, check out their websites for the West Hartford and Glastonbury areas. And if you are already a member, we’d love to hear from you!
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