Dr. Ethan Schock Offers Running Tips for Families

As the weather warms, families return to the great outdoors.

While mom and/or dad may already be runners, why not make it a family affair? Arkansasrunner.com lists many upcoming 5Ks that offer fun for the whole family.

The time spent training facilitates great bonding opportunities and completing such an event as a family unit instills a great sense of pride and accomplishment.

Certainly, one size does not fit all in training for such events. Kids in particular must train at a rate that is fun and safe for their growing bodies. Dr. Ethan Schock, a sports medicine physician at Arkansas Specialty Orthopaedics, stresses that first and foremost, they should be doing it for fun.

“If it’s not fun, it’s going to defeat the purpose of them running,” he says. “Reasonable distances are key. Run, and then stop and talk or look around.”

Schock and his three sons are all runners. Edward, 9, ran the 2013 Little Rocker’s Kids Marathon. He ran 25 miles with his classmates at Episcopal Collegiate School leading up to the race, running the last mile at the marathon. Henry, an 8th-grader at Episcopal, and Anderson, a sophomore at Catholic High School, are both on their respective schools’ cross country teams.

There are also certain safety considerations to be made for young runners. “Most younger kids’ injuries are related to falling,” Schock says. He also warns against over training, as kids have developing muscles. “Kids have open growth plates,” he explains. “Bones have growth plates on the end. These are potentially weaker spots where most breaks happen in children. Too much stress can cause damage.” He emphasizes that while it’s not a reason for kids not to run, parents should keep it in mind.

Other safety precautions include not being out in traffic. Dr. Schock’s younger boys run with him – often by the river trail – not by themselves through the neighborhood.

His attitude toward his kids’ training is fairly relaxed. “If kids are preparing for an event, they should do something every day,” he explains. “Not necessarily running every day, but do something to stay active every day – whether that is soccer, riding a bike or running.” He adds that his son Edward didn’t train for any great distance prior to the Little Rocker’s Kids Marathon.

Visit arkansasrunner.com to find a race near you.