When I started running with my youngest son at age 6 (he’s now 10), we did not know whether or not he would enjoy running, and if he did, would he want to race and be competitive. About the same time, my son started Taekwondo, and while he’s close to earning his 2nd Dan Black Belt, running has emerged as his favorite and dominant sport. I coached and encouraged him, but conscientiously did not push him, because I had seen other young athletes either physically or mentally burn out. Therefore I am conservative with weekly mileage, number of days we run, and types of workouts, and how running fits into my son’s life activities (including school!).
My son and I started racing about three years ago, from the mile up to 5K road races, and I have tracked his progress over that three year period. The chart below shows his progress both for the mile distance as well as his average mile pace for the 5K / 3 mile distances. Click on the chart for a larger PDF version.
- In three years, my son has dropped his mile time from about 9:30 to almost 6:00 (6:04 PR).
- In less than three years, in the 5K, he improved his average mile pace from about 10:00 per mile to almost 7:00 (22:14 PR in 5K, equivalent to 7:09 per mile).
- In the past 8 months, his achievements and progress have helped him qualify for the Regional Junior Olympics in both cross country (November, 2011) and track & field (July, 2012).
I shared the progress with my son as positive reinforcement that setting goals, having a plan, and following through with passion, commitment and a good work ethic will produce excellent results. Who knows where the journey will lead us?