Our Guide: Getting Ready for a 5K in Hawai‘i

No one can go from zero to 5K immediately, and getting there at all can be especially difficult for kids. Here are five steps to keep your little ones moving and motivated.

In our active community, there’s a 5K nearly every month of the year. The races create great opportunities both to set fitness goals and to give back to the community, since most are fundraisers for nonprofits.

Here are some training tips to help your kids have a successful—and fun—run.

  1. Set a goal that works for everyone. Make sure you all agree to a reasonable and attainable goal, like simply running the entire 5K without stops, or running except for quick stops for water at aid stations.
  2. Choose a course. Most 5K races in Honolulu take place at Kapi‘olani or Ala Moana parks. Both provide flat, safe courses that are perfect for young children and first-timers. For little legs, 3.1 miles can be quite far, and flat courses are easiest—so save the Mānoa Valley, Kailua or Kāne‘ohe races for later. Pick a race at least two months in advance so you have enough time to train.
  3. Set aside time as a family. Schedule workouts into your calendar. Plan for 30 minutes of exercise, three days per week. It will take most people about two months to go from no running whatsoever to running a continuous 3.1 miles. Children may need less time than that because they are generally more active, what with school P.E., recess and outside play that includes running and other physical activities.
  4. Start small. Start with a goal of running a kilometer, or just a little more than half a mile. Most high school tracks are open to recreational runners in the evening if teams aren’t using them, and a kilometer is 2½ laps. Start by jogging that distance at a nice, easy pace. Then walk briskly the rest of the time until you have exercised for 30 minutes. Don’t go too slow; you want a good workout.
  5. Build slowly. Once everyone can run a kilometer, set a new goal. Next, go a mile, then 2 miles, and then 3. Never spend less than 30 minutes on a workout—the time spent walking is helping you build endurance. But take it slowly to avoid injury. Going too far too fast may also exhaust little ones so much they won’t want to run anymore.
  6. Mix it up. Kids need variety. If the workout starts to feel stale, don’t skip it. Instead spend 30 minutes playing in a way that involves running. Try a game of tag in the park, a family soccer game or short sprint races adding up to 30 to 60 minutes of moving time.