On being pushy and knowing when to back off

junior parkrun half marathon wristband

We visited Newark junior parkrun a lot of the summer. It’s brilliant fun and Rose enjoyed taking part. However, the last couple of times we visited, she completed it more under sufferance than enjoyment. This is nothing to do with the awesome team at Newark and more to do with just being four years old.

With being in Estonia, then Brighton, then hen do, then meetings, and then the small matter of an election campaign, we haven’t made it back there in many weeks. However, Rose had started asking if we could go because she wanted to do her 11th run – her milestone half marathon! So for the first time in weeks, we went back yesterday.


newark parkrun start


It was a cold and foggy morning in Sconce and Devon park, but as lovely as ever. Another child was running a milestone – his 21st run, making a marathon. After announcements and the fabulous child-led warm up, it was time to start. I’m still on the bench so I cheered by the finishing funnel as my husband went off with Rose.

25 minutes later, a stroppy and sullen four year old walked over the line with my very frazzled looking husband. The lovely tailwalker, equipped with a tail, looked at me and said “I thought your husband was going to go potty.”

Turned out that our little Supergirl did nothing but bleat like a dying sheep all the way around and didn’t want to run because she was too cold. Daddy, needless to say, was frazzled. “She didn’t want to do it today,” he said. “She begged to come, but did nothing but complain.”

Fair play to her, she finished anyway. Go, Rose.

But the last couple of runs have been done under sufferance and in trying to make it fun for her, we’ve only ended up upsetting her and frustrating ourselves. parkrun is supposed to be fun. Junior parkrun is supposed to be even more fun, whether it’s a run, a walk, or a hop around. And there’s a lesson there for us as parents as knowing when to back off. We want her to enjoy parkrun and we want her to enjoy physical activity. If she’s not feeling the enjoyment and we end up making her sad, then we have to back off.

We’ll be taking her for plenty of walks through the winter. Maybe she’ll like to go running through the park. But at the moment, she’s not feeling the joy of parkrun. We talked about it as we sat in Rumbles cafe after. Daddy apologised to Rose for being snappy and they made up with cuddles. And we’ve decided to take a break over the winter and take her back in the spring when she’s a little older and will hopefully enjoy it again.

parkrun is fun, parkrun is for everyone, but please don’t make the mistake that we did with pushing her into something she didn’t want to do. I’m sorry Rose, we got it wrong.

Newark junior parkrun team, you’re all absolutely awesome. Hopefully see you again in the spring and thank you for making our little supergirl so very welcome!


junior parkrun half marathon wristband

One thought on “On being pushy and knowing when to back off

  1. It’s hard getting the balance right with kids. My step kids (8 & 9) started junior park run in the summer, partly because we take them along when we help out at races and they want to do kids events next year. They also know we do a lot of triathlon so it’s part of our “normal”. They only do it when they’re with us which is every other weekend and even then only when they want to which delightfully seems to be most of the time, even in the rain. We’ve even said they don’t have to finish if they don’t want to. The only rule is that if one wants to the other has to come and watch (and then usually decides they want to run anyway). The 8-yo has just earned her half marathon band and the 9-yo will get his next time. I was so proud when they both asked to do “big parkrun”. It’s hard not to let them lead the way but when we run with them we try to make it fun (aeroplane arms down hill for example) and discourage them from thinking too much about places or times. Rose will likely find love for it again :)

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